March 5th, 2007

tank warning label

Any excuse to use the AHCIPOS tag

Today was the big day: A visit to the gastroenterologist for a follow-up on the intestinal woes.

It was yet another quintessential health care experience for me. Which is to say, nothing really got accomplished other than a little hand-holding, a little draining of my pocketbook, and an extended argument with billing personnel over insurance. (In this case, since I was stupid and let them xerox my insurance card, they're refusing to let me settle the bill at the 40% cheaper self-pay rate. Sigh.)

I really hate to lead off my doctor report with the bad news, because the good news is tremendous: I'm feeling better. Last weekend's relapse cleared back up after a day or two, and I've been holding my breath on it all this time, trying not to jinx it ... but I'm feeling better.

Yesterday, for the first time since January, I ate something rich and quasi-spicy without freaking out about the gut consequences -- in this case, fettucine curry alfredo. Said gut consequences don't seem to have materialized, and I feel tentatively like I can lift my month-long dietary restrictions again. The doctor listened to my symptom history and told me there's no point to a colonoscopy as long as the general trend is toward Better. And it is -- I graphed it out while I was sitting in the exam room waiting for him, and it's been one big roller coaster but each high has gotten higher and each low has gotten less vile. So I'll continue taking the probiotic for a week or two, and chalk this one up as another painful and unnecessary lesson about unfettered capitalism.

Speaking of which, this has been a big week on the blog front. In a previous post, I said I didn't have the energy to round up all the political arguments on American health care; but I picked up a full handful just in today's web trawling, so here's some troubling and powerful reading for your (and my) later reference:

* http://brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com/2007/03/its-time-to-take-health-insurance-out.html
The middle class -- not just the poor -- are being increasingly hit by the nation's lack of health insurance; and people who have ever had an expensive condition are pretty much screwed no matter how comfortable they are. Also includes some useful statistics, such as the median U.S. household income being about $46,000. In 2005 kadyg and I were in the top half of American income-earners ... and look at how much good it's done us. (In 2006, what with the hike and her job shuffle, not so much.)

* The Walter Reed Medical Center scandal has been hitting the headlines, and has been getting some thought-provoking coverage across the spectrum. Worth pointing out is http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=7945, which examines how an obsessive drive toward privatization contributed to the hospital's woes. Kevin Drum chips in a complementary post to remind us that the VA is still an excellent system, in large part because of its government nature.

* The most arresting health care story in the news, though, has been Deamonte Driver's death from not getting $80 removal of an abcessed tooth. bradhicks has been all over this, and is highly worth reading. Another one that LJ'ers might miss is over at Orcinus, where a Canadian examines how that case would have been handled north of the border. Very educational if you haven't heard much about our neighbor's system beyond the right wing's old "socialized medicine" and "long waiting lines" canards.

Also, many good wishes and positive energy to gridlore and company, who do have insurance but are going through significantly more dire medical circumstances than I.