July 5, 2009
This health care crisis they keep talking about has gotten me confused, and -- please don''t take this as bragging -- I''m not nearly as dumb as I look.
Drs. Parker, Goodman and Lynch provided health care back where I grew up over in Rolling Fork. They could cure just about any disease or ailment folks had or thought they had.
Down in the deep Delta, they weren''t the only ones who performed the healing. Unbeknownst to them, they pioneered the use of nurse practitioners and physicians'' assistants. Anyone who wore a white uniform, shoes and stockings -- nurse or not -- had privileges. As no surprise, most of those they treated, like me, are still ambulatory in the here and now.
For the less serious ailments and maladies, Doc Sorrels at Sorrels Drug Store was the man. Of course, just like the staffers at the various doctors'' offices, he wasn''t a "real" doctor.
Anyone could present themselves at the counter and describe their symptoms to Doc Sorrels. Within minutes he had them on their way with a sack of medicine, sans prescriptions. I''m almost certain he made mental notes on what illnesses were going around, the medicine du jour and, if the symptoms fit, why not save a neighbor a doctor bill? Imagine, old Doc Sorrels making strides in controlling health care costs before it was a so-called national crisis.
For tonsils, appendixes and what was most often described in polite society as "female problems," The Street Clinic attached to Mercy Hospital in Vicksburg was most convenient. Most folks I knew who had a stay there returned home healed.
I had my tonsils taken out there in 1959. I remember waking up in a daze and focusing on two Catholic nuns praying over me. That was my first experience of many more to come that had me thinking I was knocking on heaven''s door.
Looking back through our mamas'' eyes, polio and pneumonia were the biggest threats to us kids, right behind accidents like drowning or getting run over by a car.
For us kids, seeing parents die of heart attacks was way scarier than the threat of the Commies dropping the bomb. Our being forced to live in an orphanage where we couldn''t ask for "more" was a pretty bleak picture.
I remember as a youngster overhearing my parents and their friends forevermore discussing relatives and friends who were suffering from some sort of malady; the grossest of all was the gall bladder. Couldn''t they find something more uplifting to talk about?
Well, of late when my pals and I get together, a lot of what we talk about is prostate stuff, backaches, what medicines we take and who''s sicker than us or just died. (Did I mention I have had my gall bladder removed? Still gross.)
Health care has changed a lot over the years -- for the better.
Not nearly as many young parents have heart attacks these days, thus greatly reducing the number of poor starving orphans. Kids can play in Deer Creek and not have to worry about coming down with polio. We have some sure-enough powerful medicines that can knock pneumonia''s pants off. And fortunately, for old guys like me, we don''t have to get up as many times in the night to go to the bathroom.
In spite of all the innovations and improvements, something''s wrong.
Back in the days I just referenced, very few folks lost all they had after finding themselves in a bad circumstance related to health care. I know, I know -- a lot of them died, too.
Hit in the wallet
A friend of mine told me the other day the cost of having his family added to his company''s insurance plan cost him an additional out-of-pocket $900 a month, with a $2,000 deductible. I happen to know he makes a pretty good wage.
When health care costs start getting rich folks'' attention, you can bet we have a problem. If it''s a distraction for my wealthy friend, what about the hardworking men and women out there who go to church on Sunday and the PTA meetings on Monday night, after working all day for 15 bucks an hour, not to mention those other good folks who work for $8?
I have pretty good insurance. In a few years I''ll be a certified geezer. The government will have to take care of me; that is, unless they go broke, which doesn''t seem as farfetched as it used to.
I''m OK. It''s my and your kids'' futures that''s got me in a stew. How are they going to be able to afford health care?
This morning, while drinking my coffee and watching "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, the channel ran several ads, produced by all sides of this debate, designed to frighten us concerning the cost and availability of health care.
Some say if we don''t let the government take over, then get sure-enough sick, we''re going to lose everything we have and die penniless.
On the other hand, some argue that if we do let the government take control, we are all going to stand in lines akin to the soup lines of the Great Depression and suffer irreversible brain damage or croak before we get to see a doctor.
And the scare tactic of all scare tactics: We''re going to be like Canada. To hear the slick ad guys tell it, everybody in Canada is either dying, dead or in excruciating pain.
What I want to know is, who made Canada the end-all anyway? Who is dumb enough to say we have to be like them? The last time I checked it was the "stars and stripes" flying on the moon rather than the "maple leaf."
No doubt there need to be some changes made. What bothers me is the big money being spent to protect the status quo. And, at the other end of the spectrum, those with their hand out wanting something for nothing. I feel like nobody is standing up for my interest. That''s an everyday working guy talking, worried about his children''s future.
I''ve got some crazy ideas on how to fix the system. If I were to tell you what they are in Strummin'', I''d either be committed, or if unlucky enough to find my way into a hospital emergency room, placed in the "Do Not Resuscitate" line.
A request. Should you ever find yourself in conversation with President Obama, please tell him you know a pseudo-columnist that has some strange out-of-the-box ideas and wants to serve on one of his advisory boards dealing with health care. If called to serve -- I''m there.
Something must be done to make healthcare affordable for all of us. If we believe what we see on television or read in the newspaper, something is going to be.
We better engage and put the pressure on the powers-that-be to recognize the greedy, as well as those who simply want a handout. There''s got to be some common ground for us regular folks who always get caught in the middle.
Roger Truesdale owns and operates Bayou Management Inc. and is a semi-professional guitar player. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.
Harriet Butler Rooks commented at 1/10/2010 6:43:00 PM:
I have enjoyed your articles. I am from the Delta,too (Marks) but now live in Starkville. I wondered if the doctor you talked about was Henry Lynch.