Monthly Archives: June 2017

Two Books with a Non-Political Approach to Saving our Failing American Healthcare

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal At a moment of drastic political upheaval, An American Sickness is a shocking investigation into our dysfunctional healthcare system – and offers practical solutions to its myriad problems.
“Patients can save thousands of dollars by purchasing An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal.”— New York Journal of Books
In these troubled times, perhaps no institution has unraveled more quickly and more completely than American medicine. In only a few decades, the medical system has been overrun by organizations seeking to exploit for profit the trust that vulnerable and sick Americans place in their healthcare. Our politicians have proven themselves either unwilling or incapable of reining in the increasingly outrageous costs faced by patients, and market-based solutions only seem to funnel larger and larger sums of our money into the hands of corporations. Impossibly high insurance premiums and inexplicably large bills have become facts of life; fatalism has set in. Very quickly Americans have been made to accept paying more for less. How did things get so bad so fast?
Breaking down this monolithic business into the individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal exposes the recent evolution of American medicine as never before. How did healthcare, the caring endeavor, become healthcare, the highly profitable industry? Hospital systems, which are managed by business executives, behave like predatory lenders, hounding patients and seizing their homes. Research charities are in bed with big pharmaceutical companies, which surreptitiously profit from the donations made by working people. Patients receive bills in code, from entrepreneurial doctors they never even saw.
The system is in tatters, but we can fight back. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn’t just explain the symptoms, she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. In clear and practical terms, she spells out exactly how to decode medical doublespeak, avoid the pitfalls of the pharmaceuticals racket, and get the care you and your family deserve. She takes you inside the doctor-patient relationship and to hospital C-suites, explaining step-by-step the workings of a system badly lacking transparency. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate the maze that is American healthcare and also to demand far-reaching reform. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a health care system that no longer has our well-being at heart.

Catastrophic Care by David Goldhill
Catastrophic Care explodes the myth that Medicare and insurance coverage can make care cheaper and improve our health. It shows how efforts to reform the system, including the Affordable Care Act, will do nothing to address the waste of the health care industry, which currently costs the country nearly $2.7 trillion annually and in which as many as 200, 000 Americans die each year from preventable erros. Catastrophic Care proposes a completely new approach, one that will change the way you think about one of our most pressing national problems.
The London Guardian’s Michael Wolff says: Powerful—edge0of-the-seat riveting—because it is not, in any sense a policy book. Rather, this is a story about saving ourselves…It steps outside the established political debate and lexicon. It is one of the rare books addressing a major national policy issue that is able to do so in language not already debased by the problem itself. Alas, healthcare civilians can’t actually read most books about healthcare……But you can read this one.
Harvard Medical School Dean of Faculty, Jeffrey S. Flier says: For those who are troubled by both the failures of our health care system and the misdirected diagnosis and prescriptions offered by pundits, policy experts, and politicians from across the political spectrum, Goldhill offers a much needed antidote. By pointing out the almost invisible incentives and regulations that drive the dysfunction of our current system, he offers an illuminating framework for understanding the crisis, and then a path to the kind of reforms that will surely be necessary.

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Empowerment

I do believe power corrupts. As far as I can see, Christianity died when Constantine made it the state religion. I’m getting to do my once a month sermon from the molehill tomorrow. I’m telling about trying to get my youngest son, at three years of age, to speak into a recorder to send a message to his Grandmother. He froze when faced with the microphone, so I encouraged him to start by saying who he was. He just looked more and more frustrated. Then he cried out, “I’m somebody! I’m somebody.” A universal cry of our hearts, I believe. Unfortunately it leads to all sorts of idols/addictions: The need to be right, righteous, rich, powerful,special, a winner, A moment that has stayed with me is when 4 first grade boys in a Special Olympics race were clustered together and almost to the finish line. Then, suddenly, one of them fell down. Simultaneously the other three all turned back to help him up. And they crossed the finish line together holding him up.
I’m 80 and I’m not there yet.

Dark Matter

I think now and then

that it would be best
if all of us could fall into
amnesia,

tumbling to the ground
without our past knowledge
of walking, talking, sleeping,
shouting, killing.

It would not be
glorious renewal —
I’m no Utopian.

Instead I see it as
a fitting end to things:

all of us helpless, seeing 
every other one of us
from ground level,
lying there uneasily
as if new born, waiting
in complete equality
for an explanation
that will never come.

We’ve lived
for generations
terrorized by
by dark claims of 
mastery from those
utterly in thrall
to a lie called history.

It would be fitting, 
even at such cost, if
they were freed long enough
from that spell
to know how it felt not to be
empowered.

To see the world as it is,
from the ground up.

To squirm.

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Some Blocks and Keys to Success

Finding what we love and have the talents for takes longer for some of us than others. We may have a lot of small talents and interests, so we tend to move from one project or job to another.
Often those who naturally have good study or work habits will out-perform those that appear to have more talent or higher IQ’s.
And lack of confidence can cause us to be over sensitive to suggestions for improvement, making us unteachable and leading to discouragement and giving up.
But, when we combine our natural abilities and focus those on what we value most, it makes a huge difference in how well we do.
Then motivation becomes the key to perseverance. And even those of us who hate detail and repetition can manage to do the necessary nitty-gritty to accomplish what we consider important.
PRIORITIZE: What interests and energizes you most that you are reasonably competent to do?
FOCUS: Identify resources of time, money, space, training, materials, and support people needed to accomplish this.
PERSEVERE: Don’t give up if you fail. Learn from your mistakes. Get help when you need it. Constructive criticism is instruction. Be realistic in your goal.

To my mother & daughters: “Sorry about…you know… the world.” #Mother’sDay Apology #SundayBlogShare #humor

Barb Taub

To my parents and my kids— “I’m SO sorry about the whole world. Except for chocolate. And coffee, of course. “

For the past year, I have done very little work on my current writing projects. We bought a house, and for the first time I felt like I understood my mother.

Mother had her first five children in six years. Someone asked her about that childless year in the middle. “That was the year,” explained Mother, “we bought the house.” The Year Of The House included but was not limited to:

  • My brother falling into the hole being dug for the new basement bathroom (one broken collarbone)
  • My attempt to slide down a bannister which stopped halfway down the stairs even though I didn’t (stitches in chin)
  • My brother running his arm through the wringer-washer (skin grafts)
  • My sister releasing the handbrake on their first new car (totalled—the car, not the…

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The Attack of the Centipede or I Am Never Going to Sleep Again

After falling and breaking my shoulder last year, I now sleep with a light on. Tonight about midnight, when I got back from my first trip to check out the plumbing, what to my horrified eyes did appear, but a sizable centipede crawling right over my head. Too short to reach it and too arthritic to climb, I was afraid to swat at it and have it fall possibly under, or even worse, into my bed.

Keeping one eye on it as it began to start down the wall, I grabbed a file folder to carry it out. Then cringing and gritting my teeth as it turned heading higher and more out of my reach, I woke up my husband for help. While he groggily tried to wake up, I turned back to do battle. As I pulled my bed with its nest of pillows and covers away from the wall, the centipede started back down. Holding my breath, I managed to lure it onto the folder. .
While considering my options, toilet or disposal, it raced on its hundred legs toward my hand. I screamed. Loudly! Then tried to think what I would tell the police if a neighbor called 911. “But officer, it was a centipede attack!”
But my hero arose and took the cardboard folder in time. I cheered quietly as he hurried with it toward the front door, then groaned as it took a dive to the floor.

A floor the same color as our centipede escapee.

Since neither of us had on our glasses or shoes, we tiptoed gingerly bending as low as we could. When wounded or killed, this kind of centipede gets its revenge. It stinks up the house. And if it’s just scared, it has tiny teeth that can bite. We would never have found it if it had stayed still. But as it raced to hide, it ran onto the folder. I grabbed the door and it was  thrown out of sight.

As I whispered “Hooray,” I thought my husband was taking a bow. But at our age, it’s easier to bend than get back upright. Once helped back to bed, he fell quickly to sleep.
But as I looked at my bed, I thought of its mate and that centipedes travel mostly at night.

Now as I type, I imagine things tickling my legs and my back.  And shudder as I imagine a hundred little feet and tiny teeth that can bite. So, my plan now is to stay up all night.

In Honor of Those Who Gave their Lives at Normandy

Travel Visions
An opulence of travel visions:
Paris, London, Lisbon, Prague,
beauty rampant with history and art.
Yet etched forever in my mind
the beaches and cross-crowned cliffs
above the shores of Normandy.
A cliff face sheering from the ocean,
Pointe du Hoc, where Army Rangers
climbed point blank into German guns.
Now, just empty bunkers on pitted earth
and beaches, wave washed innocent
below silent sentinels left behind.
Row on row of small white crosses
guarding fields of blood-rich ground,
Old Glory whipping, snapping in the wind.

Grieving Life’s Diverse Losses

Today I am realizing that when our children or couples we love divorce, there’s a mourning period involved. Particularly with friends that we only knew when they were married. We have to mourn and let go of those we have loved in relationship. It has nothing to do with thinking they should or shouldn’t divorce. It just involves coming to grips with the differences.

With a child we knew and loved long before they married or divorced, we at least have something to look back to, but not with the spouse that we only knew as a unit with our child. They simply aren’t the same person now that we have only known. There really is a necessary time of mourning, particularly if we truly came to love them as part of that unit. And mourning involves the stages of grief…..denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I think recognizing this can help us not bog down hopelessly at any point in the process. I am also beginning to reflect on the possibility that we have to go through a similar process when either people we love or we ourselves change because of aging or illness.
I realize now that I need to cut myself some slack and take time to reflect on the effects of this recent period in my life that includes my own losses of abilities and joys through age and illness, my husband experiencing losses from these also, one of our adult children and a spouse that I loved deeply as a couple for many years now being divorced, and friends that I have loved and only known as a couple divorcing.
The last year and a half have simply been overwhelming and I have been bogged down in emotional denial of some of these things and in anger over others.
Hopefully, recognizing this  and my need for grace will help me move through to the peace of acceptance.