Venezuela: the shocking state of its health service

As someone who had lived the experience of a hospital on my own skin, this shows the inevitable evolution of health car under a communist system:

H/T:  Vlad Tepes

OK, the hospitals I experienced were not quite this dilapidated – but well on the way there.

When my grandmother (1970’s) got breast cancer, it took 8 months for the surgery.  There was no chemo for follow up because there were no chemo drugs.  And the radiation machine in her local hospital was broken – and going to a hospital outside of your district was not permitted.

When her cancer had metastasized into her bones, pain killers where the only treatment option.

The problem was that my grandmother was over 60 – and with the rationing of drugs, people over sixty were the first ones to be denied medication.  You know, like in the UK now.

So, my mother worked hard, bribed everyone she could, used her influence as a very popular teacher with all her students’ parents that she could, and managed to buy some pain meds on the black market which she then brought to my grandma’s doctor to administer to her, to ease the horrible pain.

Promptly, the doctor stole the meds and sold them on the black market…probably to someone else using their best connections to try to relieve pain of their loved one.

Of course, I had my own encounters…

From childhood, I suffered crippling migraine headaches.  The doctors told my mom ‘unofficially’ that that is what it was, but that they were not permitted to diagnose or treat migraines because ‘the officials’ had ruled that ‘migraines are not a medical condition but something that pampered capitalist ladies with not enough to do pretend. to have to get attention’.

And then there was the first time I got appendicitis:  I was admitted to a children’s ward, where there were 54 of us in one room.  No visits on any children’s wards, because children might cry when the parents leave.  We were fed in the middle of the room, in shifts, because only 8 could fit at the table at one time.

Having appendicitis, I was put on a strict diet of tea and toast, so as not to irritate my intestines.  However, there was only 1 type of food served per meal – and the kitchen could not worry about all the special diets.  I was laughed at when I questioned why I was being fed food that the doctors said I was not allowed…

After 3-4 days of strict bedrest (no books or anything), I got ‘walking status’ which meant I qualified for ‘play-room visits.  2 kids at a time were permitted there for 10 minutes per visit, 1 visit per day.

Oh, those were fun times!

Then I got appendicitis the second time.  This time, (grade 5) I went to the emergency room at the children’s hospital.  It was open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 12 noon.  When I did not get in the first day, I got up extra early the next day and got there before they opened.  Still did not make to be seen.

You see, when the doors opened and you got in, you would write down your name in the notebook in the middle of the room in the order in which you arrived.  The nurse would come out, read and call out the next name on the list and cross it off.  That way, first come, first serve – right?

Except that people who wanted their kids to be seen would stand by the door – and when the nurse would come out, they would give her a bribe to let their kid in.  Then, on the way out, they’d cross their name off the list…

My mother did not want to pay a bribe, so, we waited, and waited, and waited.

Just before noon of the third day, I got sick and tired of this.  OK, I may only have been a kid, but I was pretty sure that I would not make it in the next day…  So, I elbowed my way to the door through the throng of adults – which elicited some very loud protests and shoves.  The doctor herself  came out to see what the hubub was all about.  Of course, I did not know she was the doctor – and the head of pediatric surgery…

When she opened the door, I started shouting about the corrupt system – ok, I used smaller words, saying how people were cheating and they were doing nothing to stop it and really sick kids like I would die before they saw us.

Everyone hushed and stared – authorities were not used to getting yelled at – and especially not by a grubby little kid!!!  The only sound to be heard were jaws hitting the ground…

Then the doctor spoke:  “OK, little girl, you think you are so special – you are next!”  And she dragged me in.  The door closed behind me before my mother could make her way through the crowded room to me.

After the examination, the doctor got a serious look on her face and barked – “Her first!”

Not 30 minutes later, I was being operated on, because, apparently, my appendix was beyond burst – it was seriously decomposing and another 2-3 hours without surgery would have seen me dead.

They put me ‘under’ so fast, they did not get the dosage quite right and, trying hard to wake me up afterwards, they knocked 3 of my teeth out.  Apparently it scared the other 5 kids in my 4-bed room.  Yeah, the smaller ones had to double up in beds – that was common practice.

Funny story.  About 6 months later, I had fallen and gotten some rocks and dirt stuck in the palm of my hand.  I cleaned it as best I could, yet, it did get infected because I did not get it all. Still, usually, these things worked their way out, eventually.  Yet, a few weeks later, a thin red line started spreading up my arm, so I knew to go back to the children’s emergency room again.  Having been there before, my parents let me take the bus and go by myself.

Just as I got seated in the waiting room, the very same doctor was walking in to start her shift.  She recognized me right away.  “Oh, our little big-mouthed girl is back – come on in!”  She had a dangerous smile on her face, even though I handed her a package of coffee I had bought with my allowance.  (Coffee was one of the most common bribes, but it was usually ‘good’ coffee while as a kid, I could only get the cheap supermarket brand…)  Or was that an amused smile?

One look at my hand, she took out a scalpel and got started.

OK – I was an ungrateful little big-mouthed girl.  Yes, this doctor had, very literally, saved my life.  But, she resented my bitching and was obviously asserting herself over me.  So, I did the only thing a reasonable person would do…

I did not wince!

I did not gasp!

I gave absolutely no sign of experiencing pain, keeping my face a neutral, slightly smiling mask – even though the cold sweat was running down my back.  Her expectant gaze changing to a look of surprise, and, eventually, respect, was very, very much worth it!!!

Yes, I was an obstinate little child….

Good thing I grew out of it!

Going on holidays

Tomorrow morning, I am going on holidays – for a week.

To a place with no internet access.

Because, well, if it had internet access, my family (myself included) would not unplug…

Usually, when I go away, I pre-program joke or video posts to post daily.  However, lately, I’ve been slower than usually.

Got my shoulder results today:  turns out that when I had my fall 3 years or so ago and dislocated my left shoulder (and shattered the head of the bone to boot…), I had also hurt my right shoulder.  I complained of the pain, but the doctors were more concerned with the more injured shoulder.  It took them weeks before they finally consented to take an X-ray, then said it had been separated but is doing fine, just get yourself physio for it (not paid by our health care, of course – I had to sell my car to pay for the physio on both my shoulders) and go away.

So, I did, paid for  my physio, and actually eventually regained all motion in the left, more injured shoulder.  But the right one was having trouble healing.

During physio, they did not use ultrasound on my left shoulder, because it had a fracture and the ultrasound treatment interferes with bones mending together.  But, because my right shoulder just had a simple separation, they used ultrasound as primary treatment.  Eventually, I could move the arm.  Not full range – and not without pain, but I could move it.  So, I coughed it up to poor healing skills on my part and left it at that.

Over the years, my more injured, left shoulder, had been my ‘good arm’…

Which brings me to the current episode, which I wrote up here.  TL;DR:  woke my family up by screaming from pain in my sleep, right shoulder buggered up, went to emergency, got pumped full of painkillers and sent home without having had my shoulder examined as the MD was getting off her shift and could not give a dang…went to a walk-in clinic, got sent for X-ray and ultrasound.

Got my results today – two weeks to the day I started not being able to sleep for the acute pain in my right shoulder.

It seems that that injury 3 years ago  – well, I seem to have shattered the end of my right collarbone in it.  Not only did the stupid doctors not treat the break, they prescibed physiotherapy which actively interfered with the bone healing.

Nice!!!

Well, it has healed now – but the bone was not set and it has not healed straight.

And it rubs on tendons.

So, not only have I got arthritis in it now, I seem to have also torn a tendon there – hence the pain.

If I want to do anything about it, I can go pay for some physiotherapy…  But, I no longer have a car to sell to pay for it!

Well, with all this fun going on (typing one-handed and such), everything is taking me a lot longer to do.  Which brings me to the point of this post:  I have simply not had the time or energy to set up posts to be posted while I’m away….so, in my absence, please do give some of these excellent sites a read:

 

Oh yes – and THESE PUZZLES!!!

Yuri N. Maltsev: Soviet Defector on the Loss of Freedom in America

Tonight, we went out to dinner.

Some cousins from up North (about a 15 hour drive north-west of Ottawa – their town only got a road built to it in the late 70’s/early 80’s) came down to Ottawa to visit the tourist places – and to say hi to us.  So, we went out to dinner and had a very, very fun time.

As these are cousins from my hubby’s side of the family, I was meeting two of them for the first time.  Wonderful people – we ‘clicked’, as you say.

And, as we were extended family members, getting to know one another, we discussed our backgrounds – whom from the family we knew, how they are related to us and them, and also about the bits of our families that are different from each other.  My Northern cousins talked about their Ojibway, Polish, Finnish and Irish roots while I talked a bit about my life on the far side of the iron curtain.

The discussion turned to our aunt (their grandmother – a most wonderful 87-year-old lady who, just a couple of weeks ago, joyfully played ‘Cards Against Humanity’ with us when we went up to the ‘camp’ up North) and her health situation.  You see, she has cancer.  And, she is in the Ontario Socialized Medicine waiting list to get surgery….  Except that, if she were to wait for her turn, she would most likely die of cancer before her turn came up.

Remember, this is not Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area (GTA):  this is Northern Ontario!

Voters in the GTA decide the Ontario Government – just the other day, a reader of mine from the GTA (I believe) commented that (s)he got a non-emergency MRI in JUST (sic) 6 weeks – a luxury unheard of outside the vote-rich GTA!!!  The rest of us peasants have much, much longer wait times:  for example, I managed t get an X-ray appointment in just two weeks!

Explanation:  Ontario family physicians have been forced into clinics, as sole practitioners have been forced out of business – and various clinics will only accept results from ‘approved’ imaging firms – ensuring that you cant go to a place with a shorter waiting list, even if you were willing to pay for the service out of pocket by going, say, to the US or elsewhere.  And the shortage of family physicians is so acute that you take what you can and hope for the best…

But, I digress.  Back to my auntie and her cancer.

She is on a long, very long waiting list for her cancer surgery/treatment in Ontario.  Too long for any reasonable chance of survival… So, she will go down to the US to have her surgery done.  It will cost less than her annual contribution to the Ontario socialized medicine Ponzi scheme and is easily affordable, even without the rest of the family needing to pitch in (which we would have gladly done, had she needed it).  And, she gets in in about 10 days.  Of course, the big complication is the travel…

This brought out dinner conversation tonight to medicare and I was asked about how medicare was in the Socialist Worker’s Paradise where I grew up…

I explained that whenever we would go to see a doctor, we would bring a package of Western coffee, or chocolates, or a bottle of expensive booze, or something else that would please the doctor – so that they would actually examine and treat us, not just give us a slip of paper for time off and a prescription for an antibiotic (regardless of what the problem was).  After all, if the system does not incentivize people to perform, other mechanism, like this underground economy, would develop.

It was funny, really.  My mom was a gym teacher – renowned for her basketball coaching skills.  She ran a number of boys and girls basketball teams and organized tournaments to which scouts for the ‘army (read professional teams) would come. So, some parents of her students would give her ‘presents’ (coffee, chocolate, booze…) to make sure their kids would get a lot of play time when the scouts would be there.  She would save these and we would, in turn, use them when we went to see a doctor or a dentist and such…

We joked that in such a pound of coffee or box of chocolates could easily pass from the parent to my mom, from her to the MD, from the MD to her dentist, and from the dentist to his plumber – who was the original parent….

In this light, I think you might enjoy the following talk:

 

 

VA Recap: U.S. Vet on Cause, Solution, and Scale of Scandal

 

Canadian medical care and Canadian veterinary care: a stark comparison

My dog is one of the most affectionate creatures that ever lived:  he even tries to play with the squirrels.

OK – he is not the smartest dog ever.  As a matter of fact, I had a beta fish that was smarter than he is.  But, he is loving and kind and gentle and we love him very much.  Therefore, we make sure he has the best veterinary care.

Earlier this week, I took our doggy in to the vet for his annual checkup.  I got an appointment when I wanted, showed up, was seen without a wait.  My dog had his bloodwork done (and the vet herself telephoned me in 3 hours with the results), he got his shots, heartworm pills, an antihistemine topical spray for when the ragweed season hits and a special ear cleaner for when we go to the cottage and he goes swimming, to prevent potential ear infection from the lake.

Plus they trimmed his toenails.

All for just a few hundred dollars…less than a single car payment!

Awesome!!!

As of yesterday, I was planning to go to Toronto tomorrow for that Al Quds shindig….but, I think I will not be able to, because…

… this morning, I woke my family up at an early hour: by screaming from pain.

Usually, I am very good at managing even acute injury pain, but that whole mind over matter thing kind of breaks down a bit while I’m asleep.  So, I did not control my pain response and woke all of us by screaming in pain.

Nothing critical – just a stupid shoulder.

Perhaps this would be a good time to give a bit of history about my stupid shoulder.  It’s been a bit of a bitch for most of my life…

I cracked the cartilage doing martial arts in my teens – but it got better.

During a high-school downhill ski team practice, our coach had us do a human slalom – with the predictable results that someone skied into me and separated that same shoulder.  It got better.

Few years after that, a boyfriend thought I was not affectionate enough and decided to get closer to me.  I fought him off and kicked him out, but, that same shoulder got a little bit busted up as I was persuading him to leave.  After this episode, though I got medical attention and physio and all, and it healed and got strong, the pain never fully went away.   I chalked it up to psychology and sucked it up and worked through the pain – the shoulder was a strong as ever and I did not let it slow down my life.

After all, I broke bones and injured all kinds of joints – if you do sports as actively as I did back then, injuries are par for the course.  You heal and go, on!  When I stopped healing quickly, I had to give up the martial arts and other sports.

Well, a few years ago I had a bit of a fall – I am the clumziest thing that ever lived…  I banged up both shoulders a bit – the same one as above was just separated (again), but the other shoulder was hurt a bit more seriously.  It was quite obviously dislocated.

My poor kids were home with me and tried to help me as best they could. I know from past experience that the faster you re-locate a dislocated joint, the less soft tissue damage there will be.    So, following my instructions, my kids tried to pop the dislocated shoulder back in.  It was a little bit difficult – it seemed to me they succeeded, but then the shoulder would still be out.  Then my hubby arrived and took me to the emergency…

There, they popped it back in.   As I was getting dressed, I knew it was back out –  but it took me a bit to persuade the nurse to listen to me.  Yes, it was out.  And it was out after the next 3 times they tried to put it in, too.    So, finally, they decided to take an x-ray of the shoulder – and found that aside from it being dislocated, that bit of bone that goes into the shoulder had been totally shattered into sharp pointy bits and that every time they tried to shove it back in, they were shredding the soft tissue.

The best solution was surgery.  Except…I had been taking relatively high doses of immunosuppressants and I also happen to be rather allergic to antibiotics – so cutting me open in the hospital was a bit of a risky proposition.  So, I got my arm put into a sling, waited for the bone to mend a bit, and only then had the shoulder put back into place.  And, after a bit pf physiotherapy (I had to sell my car to pay for it, because the physio took longer than the government permitted maximum), but it got that shoulder up to speed.  Yes, it aches and the bone spurs injure the muscle tissue if I don’t care for it properly, but, it got better.

I am not going into this to make you feel sorry for me – just to illustrate that I am not afraid of a little pain and working through it to a good end.

And to explain why, with all the drama of the dislocated shoulder, the other shoulder – the one that’s been my bum shoulder for decades – did not get a lot of attention.  There was something a little more urgent and, frankly, with the pain in the other shoulder and the meds to dull it, it took me a long time to start complaining about it…

In the end, I got physio on that shoulder too (self-funded, of course – I had hit the physio ceiling with my other shoulder).  I regained mobility and all – but, it always remained weaker and achy.  So, I’ve been going easy on it when I do activities like swimming…

Last week, we went on a family holiday up North and swam in lakes.  Chilly, yes, but no problem.  And  we played in the water with cousins and nieces and nephews and the ducks (my 4-year-old nephew had an interesting way of catching minnows in the shallows:  he’d catch them in his hand, then place the caught minnow into his little fishing net…).  We threw frisbees and water balls and all that.

That is, they threw, I’d swim to retrieve the toys if they landed in too deep water.  But, I avoided throwing most of the time as, either arm, throwing stuff is very painful.  Still, one time I did toss a little football with my right arm (the long-term bum shoulder) and something kind of went khrrrrrrr.  But, I kept on in the water to ice it and, aside from being a little more sore than usual, it was fine.

Which brings me to this morning and the rude awakening:  I woke my poor family up by screaming from my sleep – with pain in my right (the long-term-bum) shoulder… Embarrassing as that was, I was rather concerned because I could not move the stupid arm for pain.  Well, that did it for my poor hubby – he packed me up and took me to the same emergency room I went to when I had dislocated my other shoulder a few years ago.

We arrived at the emergency room at 6 am – and there was no other patient there.  Not one.

I want through triage and admin and got sent in to the examination room.

The way this particular ER is layed out is circular, so all the exam rooms are in plain sight.  All the doors were opened and we could see that I was indeed the only patient.

Just under an hour later, a pretty blond doctor perhaps 5 years my junior came in and tried to examine my shoulder.  When she touched it or tried to move my arm, I winced in pain.  So, she said they’d need to administer some painkillers to me so she could examine the shoulder properly.

We were sent to a different room – not one with a bed but one with about 6 chairs in it.  Once there, a nurse came in and gave me a shot of Toradol – a very effective and non-narcotic painkiller (actually, my file at the hospital shows I refused things like morphine in the past, requesting non-narcotic painkillers instead, even naming Toradol in particular, so I presume that that is why they went straight to it – or, hospitals are finally moving towards this new class of highly effective painkillers, which would be a good thing!).

About an hour later, the doctor came back, but found me still in too much pain to examine me ‘properly’ and this time I was given some oral painkiller.  I was beyond caring what it was by this point…   The doc said I’d need an X-ray and/or an MRI to find out what is wrong and that I should get my family doctor to sent me for one.  (When a family doctor sends you for one, the waiting time is roughly 9 months – in the Ottawa area, at least).  Then she left, presumably to let the painkiller kick in so I can be properly examined.

About an hour later, the nurse came and told us to go home.

We were surprised – the doctor had not yet examined the shoulder at all:  she was waiting for the painkillers to kick in so she could do a proper exam!

The nurse informed us that the doctor’s shift was now over and she (the doctor) had told her (the nurse) to tell us to go home.

My gentle giant of a hubby was not very pleased with this – all the doctor did was have me pumped full of drugs, did not examine the shoulder, and was now telling me to go home?  He’d much prefer that my shoulder were actually examined….as it is not a usual thing for me to let other people see my pain, much less scream from it.  The nurse was very empathetic (I suspect she agreed with my hubby) and said she’s see what she could do.

Another 20 minutes later, the same doctor came in and, rather annoyed, told us she had said to go see my family doctor.  My hubby pointed out she had not actually examined the shoulder…at which she touched it in three places and said now that she had examined it, her judgment was that I should wear a sling and go see my family doctor next week and she staked off in a huff!

Not knowing what else to do, we slinked off home.

I still cannot really move my right arm very much for the pain of it…and the pain is spreading in area to affect no longer just the shoulder, but also now the top half of that half of the back…I am afraid to go to sleep because once asleep, I will not be able to suppress my expression of pain and I might scare my family again, like last night!

And, never throughout my history of injuring this shoulder (or the other one – or any other of my joints), never ever have I screamed in pain the way I had this morning.

EVER!

Not even when I would pass out from the pain when I tried to re-locate various dislocated joints by myself, never when they tried to wrench them into place while forgetting to give me pain killers in the past.

EVER!

Now, why is it, exactly, that I am allowed to pay for first class veterinary care for my dog, but I am forbidden from paying  for my own medical care and am left instead to scream from pain?

 

FOX NEWS: Security, Trust and ObamaCare

OK, this story is interesting, or I would not have blogged it.

But, it is rather obvious:  Obamacare was clearly going to be an epic disaster from the get-go.  Governments do not give good ‘customer service’ because they can force us to submit to their wishes by the use of force – on which they have given themselves a monopoly (and, to ensure they keep it, they keep trying to disarm and infantilize us in oh so many ways)…

And, of course, there are many voices saying that it was designed to fail in the first place.  Sorry, that is another rant.

However, I did find something very interesting on this video.  Specifically, it is the speech of Dr. Frederick Chang from Southern Methodist University, at about the 3:28 marker.  Not ‘speech by’, not what he says, but how he speaks.

Please, indulge me and give it a listen:

Is this not the voice of ‘Anonymous’?!?!?

Don’t get sick on the weekend – if you have to use socialized medicare…

Like here, in Canada.

A friend had a stroke on Saturday – a big one. Is paralyzed on 1/2 her body.

They did all the scans in the hospital (she’s in the ICU) – but they will not have anyone  who will look at and read them in till Monday.

Socialized medicine…America – this is coming your way!