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True Health Care Reform

Update: After writing this post I was asked to submit it to the weekly blog carnival Prevention Not Prescriptions at The Kathleen Show. Speaking of Kathleen, she is the writer & director behind the movie Side Effects, a great flick that we watched a couple years ago. Having had no previous exposure to the prescription drug industry this movie was a real eye opener with a great story to boot. I'm delighted to be included in this blog carnival, do go check it out. Here is the edition where you will find my post and many others.


I probably shouldn't sit down to write this while I'm steaming. I rarely "let it all out" on this blog, doesn't seem professional and you know... I could offend somebody.

I don't read other ranting blog posts very often either. It's almost juvenile and doesn't seem to help matters. Having said that, I'm going ahead with what I want to say (it's my blog and if I can't share my opinions here I don't know where I can).

You know it's a particularly bad rant when there is nary a photo to break of the monotony of words! Feel free to skip this post if you don't like to read people's "straight from the center of their boiling belly" posts.

Tired of the state of affairs

This weekend Damien brought home the open enrollment package from work. (To my Canadian friends and family: open enrollment is the window of time you have to make changes to your current health insurance before the next year.)

He brought it out of his pack this morning while I was making breakfast and reading it tipped me over the edge. The insurance claims made by employees this past year increased, again. Which means our insurance premiums are increasing, again, as they have every single year since we have lived in the United States. Moving back to Canada is looking more appealing all the time, but that is a subject for another post.

Damien's employer is very generous and they do what they can to absorb most of the cost and the rest is passed on to us. But the rest in Maine health care premium dollars is a lot let me tell you. I'm sick and tired of this.

Actually I'm not sick, seems like we're the only ones who aren't, but I am fed up with subsidizing other people's poor lifestyle choices. I'm not just talking about where Damien works but society in general.

I'm tired of a making time-consuming everyday choices (for example, cooking) that are not supported by society at large. And when I turn around I'm paying for the consequences of other people playing by society's rules; emphasis on making money and lots of stress, fast food, little exercise and family time.

I'm tired of spending a large chunk of our paycheck on healthy food for our family while other people eat crap, and lots of it, and then we have to help subsidize their medications. I'm not talking here about families living below the poverty line, whose only neighborhood store sells packaged preservatives, cigarettes and alcohol.

A little hypothetical case study

I'm going to use Damien as an example to show what's wrong with how we approach health in this country.

Damien has eczema (that no longer happens) and what we call a very sensitive digestive system but what is probably clinical Irritable Bowel Syndrome (related to his eczema by the way).

He hasn't been officially diagnosed because what's the point if you are taking your personal health into your hands. But before the sensitive gut, came the eczema diagnosis (early in our marriage) and the only answer was steroidal medication to manage and mask the symptoms.

Damien is a researcher and has always been concerned about his health and wasn't ready to accept that for an answer. I'll cut to the chase of this story; through major diet changes and lifestyle modifications (changing cleaners, etc.) Damien has learned and is still learning what triggers his skin outbreaks. And would you believe, it is largely determined by what he eats. He is in control of the situation, his own actions make him healthy or sick and medication would simply cover up that truth.

But let's say years ago he didn't dig deeper into diet as the answer and simply accepted the doctor's "truth" that this was nothing he could change. It might of played out something like this:

Damien goes on topical steroids to fix his eczema. The symptoms would improve for a time but he'd probably have to go on increasingly more powerful steroids over time. Because he wouldn't have changed his diet his gut health would deteriorate. He would be diagnosed with IBS, more medications and lifestyle restrictions because IBS makes your body do nasty things (this is the bowel we're talking here) that you can't always control.

So at this point he'd be on steroids and maybe 2 or 3 other meds for his digestive issues. A sick gut by the way is responsible for many autoimmune diseases, that even pharmacology can't seem to treat. A poor diet, which led to the eczema to begin with, would contribute to Damien gaining weight, something he is very susceptible to. Weight gain would contribute to high cholesterol and blood pressure (which in turn contributes to heart disease) not to mention increased cancer risk. All of which are treated with... you guessed it, more medication.

All the these medications have side effects and one very real possibility is depression. Depression because you feel so crappy and depression because of the medication cocktail you've been prescribed. Not to mention decreased sexual function and who knows what else, but you can be sure whatever it is there is a medication for that too!

And the icing on this fast food, preservative laden cake is that all of those health problems, medications and side effects would most certainly affect what Damien loves to do most: be active outdoors with his family. Damien is an optimistic, fit (love those muscles), very healthy dad and he does not want to be left on the sidelines as his children grow and pursue activities; he wants to lead them.

If he was sick and medicated he would not have the physical stamina to do that. That fact alone would have led him to depression (but don't worry there's a drug for that). And to think it all started with an itchy skin rash. This reactionary chain of events would be almost comical if it wasn't true for so many people.

Who pays for all those doctors visits, medications and sick days from work? Damien was strong enough because of life circumstance to ask questions but what if you are a person who doesn't, because of finances, family history, or education, have what it takes to stand up to the medical & food industry?

What then, are you simply resigned to a life of medications? And I am resigned to a life of paying for them? Why does our society find this acceptable?

Reforming health care

I am angry and there is not much I feel I can do about this situation except raise my children as best I know and write how I feel rail against the current health norm.

I'm tired of paying so other people can eat processed, refined foods, saturated fats and simply selfish quantities of animal products (you know that statistic that says we'd need something like 6 earths if everyone ate like North Americans). No one is stepping up to the plate to help pay for my family's expensive weekly produce bill or to compensate me for lost wages since I stay at home in large part to properly feed our family.

Choosing health is hard work and costly but choosing the alternative is even more so. Some day I'll write more in depth about our diet and the reasons why we choose that path to health, though I've just outlined most of the reasons in this post.

It's about nutritional excellence, it's about being active, it's about less stress; it's about our physical, emotional and spiritual well being. It's about reforming our lives not just our health care.

Health care reform is about more more than bills passing through legislature, it's about reforming the way we eat, move and live.

It's about taking responsibility for our health. Let me state right now I support universal health care for everyone, this is in my Canadian DNA. But if there are to be any bills passed by government it should be changes to the farm bill; removing subsidies from those industries (not farmers) growing and packaging disease in their meat packing plants. If government wants to make changes they should start with supporting organic farmers and nutritionists; giving tax credits to families that raise their children to be active and eat vegetables (highly unlikely I realize).

This rant is running out of steam. So I'll end it here. Health care isn't personal anymore. It's about other people having to pay, quite literally, for your choices. Understand of course I'm not talking about the cost to help victims of car crashes, congenital birth defects, broken arms and other such health issues. I'm talking about how we find it acceptable in this society to manage preventable disease instead of preventing it. I don't want other people having to pay for my "personal" choices and I'm simply wishing that other's would feel the same way.

9 November 09

Comments

wow!! you go girl!!! spot

wow!! you go girl!!! spot on... add to that, my husband's insurance has changed three times in the past three years, due to saving costs (he works for the town), so now i have to find ANOTHER gyn/ob who takes THIS insurance!! how many are out there who i am comfortable with as a practioner AND who respects our healthy/natural healthstyle??? not many!!
thank you for putting this out there!

renee, i read your whole

renee, i read your whole post. i respect all you have to say and share. talking about sensory issues, eczema, and cancer all have touched home with me as you know. i agree with you...there are huge problems with health care, diet, excercise, and general health in america and of americans. (and it doesn't end there. my profession was in health care.) but everyone has their own story. in honesty, your post has me both feeling defensive about my own health choices (and those of my family) AND inspired to continue digging deeper (as i posted a little bit about doing, today). thanks for keeping me thinking!
nicola
http://whichname.blogspot.com

nicola@which name?'s last blog post... these days...

oh i know that, renee, and i

oh i know that, renee, and i feel the same way about my blogging...i want to share what i feel but don't want to offend (yet don't want the worry of that to stop me!).
i was not offended in the slightest. slightly defensive, maybe, but not at all targeted, and the fact that the symptoms you describe overlap only contributed to my pausing to think more. cancer is one i mentally have to remove. i have too many close experiences with it to believe it is entirely within an individual (or a family's) control or based on individual choices. we, as a whole, have done so much crap to our environment...i feel that is a huge reason cancer rates are on the rise. we can help reduce it, but everyone is at risk.
nicola
http://whichname.blogspot.com

nicola@which name?'s last blog post... these days...

I completely agree with you

I completely agree with you Renee! It just seems so common sense that preventative care would be the best healthcare, that doctors would not be pressured to offer medications (by anyone, including patients) and instead offer sound nutritional and lifestyle support. I am also in complete agreement that we should not be forced to take care of each other's health insurance payments, most especially when that healthcare is for preventable illnesses. Coincidentally, that is in large part the very reason why I don't support universal health insurance, but that's another story.
I suppose the best thing we can do is to keep encouraging our family and friends and those in our circle of influence to change their dietary/lifestyle habits to benefit their own lives (and that of our wallets!).
If it's one thing I've really come to appreciate, it's that in this country we are free to have our own opinions and beliefs. And as a non-supporter of the limiting two-party system, I'm glad you are sharing yours.

Preach it sister! Amen to the

Preach it sister! Amen to the whole dang thing!
I hear you & totally agree. Livng health IS work, it IS costly,
and seldom "convenient" (unless you are out working in the yard and can grab some green beans or peas to munch while still 'playing' in the flower garden. hee hee!)
I may not always make the best or wisest choices either....but we shouldn't have to pay for someone elses issues when it comes to preventative. Inspirational & thougt provoking :>)
thanks.

Definitely agree. I am

Definitely agree. I am currently in the process of applying to Naturopathic Medical School, and I am still meeting people to whom I have to explain this. The majority of people DO NOT think of applying to medical school without attaching some kind of surgical image or medication. People literally assume that I am headed in the allopathic direction, which gives me little hope for making preventative care the mainstay in the future. In fact, I just spoke with a friend who wants to be a pharmacist and her brother is on his way to becoming a neuro-surgeon... I don't feel like I can win. Renee, I can certainly empathize, because a Pharmacist is the last profession on this entire earth that I would ever consider. Actually, scratch that, I'd rather die. A sentiment I can't really produce in casual conversation ^_^

I realize that nothing is ever the way we dream it, but if I could turn my dreams into reality, surgery would never be performed except on trauma victims. The only reason we would need an ER is for trauma. Everything else would be preventative care. I know, this is dishearteningly far-fetched. But that doesn't mean that I won't do my absolute best to live my life in this manner. You won't be paying my medical bills, thats for sure.

Lastly, you mentioned that you support Universal Healthcare and so do I, but I don't see how that will keep you from continuing to pay for other people's medicine. In fact, you may end up paying more as a result of the immense problems people have already fabricated for themselves due to their synthetic chemical environments. Just a lingering thought.

Great post!!!!!!

We are always going to be

We are always going to be affected by others' choices - whether it is people's (and their kids') behaviour, rising vehicle insurance premiums (even if you've never had a claim)... whatever. We can't escape the fact that we are inextricably linked to one another. I was recently dismayed here that the government 'deinsured' chiropractic treatments. This meant that people who are seeking more natural methods of treating their bodies now fully pay out of pocket and children pay too (our children were free as long as we were patients). I believe this will increase Dr. and emergency trips, drug use and surgery which our tax dollars pay for. The governemnt is simply short-sighted. The fact is, your family is not the norm -and our society isn't set up to honor people who make the choices you do. I think it takes courage and determination to continue doing what is right in the face of challenge. The occasional rant probably doesn't hurt either (call it "natural stress relief").

bring it on Renee. This is a

bring it on Renee. This is a huge problem in our society. HUGE. No one wants to take responsibility for their health . They want someone else to fix them. We unfortunately are the few that do take responsibility. Education is needed. Less marketing and confusing messages.

all this said though, I am taking my son to the dr. today. He has been pretty sick for over a week. All the natural remedies I am trying are not working. So, I do believe that at times medication is necessary. I want my boy to feel better : )

Nice rant Renee:) I have to

Nice rant Renee:) I have to add that the root cause may not just be the choices Americans have made. What about the corporations and the government who supports their tricky advertising (marketing). It's like a web, we can't just blame this situation on one thing. If we could, it would make this a lot easier.

Yep. Besides the "pay for

Yep. Besides the "pay for your neighbor's mistakes" theme that I get from "health care reform" there are three other things that really bother me.

1). I hear over and over again that "everyone has a right to health care." No they don't. Health care is a service provided by someone who has paid money to be trained in that profession. Just like a lawyer or a massage therapist or a chef. Do we have a "right" to their services? Nope. Entitlements are selfish in nature and encourage us to be lazy, complacent and dependent on the government instead of God. Which brings me to another point...

2). When in the history of mankind has government been better at running a large tax-payer-funded service for the people than individual charities or the church? If we want to help others who can't afford to pay for health care that they *truly* need then we need to help them as individuals, as a community, and most importantly as God's true church. Which brings me to my final point...

3). I don't necessarily see how insurance is Biblical. We are not to be dependent on the world, but God first and each other second. So when we get health insurance from the same companies that provide abortions, plan B coverage, and support unbiblical lifestyles then aren't we simply getting what we think is a safety net while turning the other cheek to sin, possibly even our own.

For all of the above reasons we have decided to discontinue the health insurance that we receive through my husband's employer. It is a leap of faith, for sure, and hasn't been an easy decision. We are investing in our health through our daily diets and lifestyle choices as well as setting aside money for future costs. God is sovereign and we have a responsibility to take care of our bodies, that's all we can know. Many people think we're crazy, but we know it's the right thing to do.

And that's the end of my rant/novel.

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Hmmm...we don't have health

Hmmm...we don't have health insurance because we can't afford it. We have always had to pay our hospital bills when we did have to go to the hospital. Sometimes those bills take years to pay off. Sometimes we have qualified for financial aide. I don't really understand your rant because I have never had health insurance that I had to pay for. I refuse to pay that kind of money for something that we hardly ever use. (We are very healthy here and no-one is paying for our "personal choices") And I know that I would not rather have "free" health care because I am poor over being wealthy enough to afford to pay for my own insurance!

I totally agree with you

I totally agree with you Renee. Add to all the above that anytime I go to my doctor for anything, he literally asks me if I need any prescriptions refilled. We also spend a lot of money on good high quality food for our family. I'm curious what things Damien did to help his eczema by way of diet. My daughter has it now, and never had until she was about 7 years of age, and none of our doctors can give me any help or advice other than to use heavy lotions such as aquaphor and eucerin right after baths, and of course like you said they're happy to give you steroids for it. I don't want to use those types of things on my kids, so I've tried to do some research to find out what other things may affect it but all I've been able to find is to limit dairy. Thanks!

Hi Denise, My sister had

Hi Denise,

My sister had Eczema when we were younger... She has since "grown out of it" as the Doctors put it. I am NOT currently a fan of Eucerin or Aquaphor or any lotion with chemical additives, BUT both of those products did help my sister immensely.

I have personally avoided all dairy in my diet and have not suffered from any skin abnormalities, including acne.. Getting rid of dairy isn't for everyone, but it is definitely something I recommend trying. Just some thoughts ;)

My first response to this

My first response to this was, "Damn. I like you." Because that's about as intelligent of an affirmative response as I can come up with right about now.

I could stick with that, but I also wanted to share a thanks: My husband and I have been struggling for years now with the decision to move to the U.S., to be with my family (husband is Canadian). Although we have thousands of pros and cons on each side, what it boils down to is this, really: In my hometown, we would be around constant love and comfort (I realize I will never be comfortable nor feel like myself around anyone in our current Canadian town). But in my hometown, we would fight against the norm - constantly. About every tiny decision we make. What we eat, how we dress, what we read, how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we vote, how we parent (especially this one). What an expense of energy, I often try to explain to the husband, this is, to fight every minute of every day.

We couldn't decide. Love and swimming against the stream, or loneliness and swimming with the stream.

You've just illustrated perfectly for me what we need to do: Stay put and ram the calendar full of as many love visits as we can.

I've been looking for someone to push us off the fence for years. THANK YOU!

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Great post Renee. As a kid

Great post Renee. As a kid growing up my family rarely had health insurance so my mom learned early on that she had to keep us healthy to the point we wouldn't need a doctor (as much as possible). We never had sugar in the house and ate organic veggies from our own garden. We were all hard workers, believed in fresh air, exercise, and a good diet to keep us healthy. Of course we did have to go to the doctor sometimes but I believe we healed more quickly because of our diligence with the rest of our lifestyle. I continue those same practices as an adult and it does frustrate me to watch others make poor decisions which ultimately hurt the rest of our community. Thanks for ranting ;)

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I don't remember how I found

I don't remember how I found your blog, but I have really enjoyed this post in particular. I so strongly agree with you about your views on health insurance here. I am one of the many who can not afford the outrageous health insurance premiums, so I am without health insurance. That being said, we are also very proactive in caring for our bodies so they do not get sick. It is hard to feed a family nutritiously here in america for so many reasons, including lack of healthy places to eat and a lot of ridicule from others who are less inclined to eat healthfully. (BTW, I do not let that bother me in the least bit!) I do think that health care reform needs education instead of more money thrown at treating all of these illnesses that we ourselves are causing. Thank you for airing your opinion. I am hoping that maybe someone will read this post and be inspired to take control of thier own health!

Hey Renee - Thanks for the

Hey Renee -
Thanks for the lotion and lip balm recipes. I've learned a lot from your blog. I'd love to hear more about your diet as I'm currently contemplating how to remove some of the processed fare from our pantry and replace it with more healthy snack options for our family. I am just beginning to learn and read more about whole foods and health, so I have a long way to go! As a kid growing up in the south, I had bologna sandwiches and little debbie cakes in my lunch box, so I definately have some things to overcome. I now have two wonderful kids of my own, and I hope to teach them better eating habits, while improving my own. My kids love fruits and vegetables, so I do have that on my side! I would love to know more about what products you use to clean your home, and for washing laundry, as I'm not sure how to get away from the commercial products that it seems 'everyone' in my area uses. I feel like I'd have to throw out most everything under my sink! Where do you begin? Blessings to you and your family. Denise

We are self-employed (after

We are self-employed (after many months of unemployment) and uninsured (after several months of COBRA) so I know just what you're talking about. When the system is set up to just stick larger and larger band-aids on problems instead of getting to the actual root of the disease, going cold turkey with no insurance is terrifying.

I got used to bucking the tide and paying for everyone else (while reaping none of the benefit personally) by homeschooling. We're in our 19th year of paying thrice for our childrens' education (taxes plus expenses plus the full-time-teaching job homeschooling entails). Although we eat "clean" it doesn't rile me too much anymore that I'm paying for others to eat dirty and deal with the medical issues that arise.

It is time consuming to eat clean. It also takes a much larger chunk of our income to do. But I won't go back to cheaper. I've seen too much improvement in our health and I know better. I'm not angry about the people who abuse their bodies and the medical system, I feel sorry for them. They are buying, hook, line and sinker, into a system that keeps them sick and depressed, shelling out money everyday to fill their medicine cabinets and bodies with strong chemicals that keep them sick and depressed. I got off that Unmerry Go Round.

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Renee! Thank you THANK YOU

Renee! Thank you THANK YOU for going there about FOOD! I'm on the fence about universal coverage, but if the government would drop the corn subsidies I think I'd be on board. Two nurses and three pediatricians in my family is enough to convince me that if we're going to be taxed to pay for healthcare then we shouldn't be taxed to make poor health choices (fast food, sodas--even store bought vanilla extract has HFCS!!) cheaper! My blood boils over the thought of our open-enrollment new packet of info in just a few short weeks. Amen for taking care of your family's health outside of blind trust in pills.

Renee, I'm very glad you

Renee, I'm very glad you wrote this post. I believe we need many more people speaking out as you have.

I'm actually tired of hearing people tell me about all their health problems that they are solving with drugs (or not solving) when they could be experiencing greatly improved health by changing what they eat, how they move, and their beliefs/mindset.

What is so surprising to me is that people say they don't want to take the drugs but when I suggest what they could do to get off the drugs or at least lower the dosages considerably (food and movement) they *really* don't want to make that kind of effort. OR they firmly believe that changing food and movement won't make a difference.

My passion as a health coach is working with women around emotional eating. My bigger passion is healing the planet by helping individuals heal themselves through individually structured self-care.

I have a grand vision of the skills and information we would teach everyone about self-care and the changes that would be necessary in the food industry, agriculture, health care, insurance industry and even how we structure our jobs. It would truly be revolutionary in its effects on the health of our population and I believe the productivity (not to mention joy!) of the nation.

Best of all it doesn't take policy makers to bring about the majority of the changes. All it takes is enough individuals making a new statement about their health and their worth as human beings by changing what they eat and how they move.

So Amen to "It's about reforming our lives not just our health care." Keep writing! and keep making those choices for health.

Through "green-blog hopping"

Through "green-blog hopping" I found your blog and I couldn't agree more with your healthcare stance. My husband and I are both pharmacists, but I stay at home with our new baby, and the more we learned in school, the more afraid we are of medications. My husband works in the hospital environment, where he's found there to be "less abuse" of drugs. He helps to find ways to eliminate the medications patients are taking, because just as you said, the medications precipitate problems and side effects, and rather than look at the source itself, most healthcare professionals add more medication. It is so frustrating to work with and nearly impossible to convince people of their own ability to take control of their health. Not to mention, it sounds undesirable when you describe the sorts of changes they could make in their diet. Yes, it's expensive, and it's more work. But the benefits are priceless. We strive in our family to eat as clean as we can, and sometimes we fail (or indulge) BUT we recognize the importance of allowing and empowering your body to work as it was designed to do. It is disheartening to think that we will now be paying for everyone else's healthcare, their tests, and medications (and while I feel that there is a time and place for doctors, pharmacists, etc., the last thing we need is more funding for that...) Instead, let's help the families who want to eat clean... provide opportunities and availability of healthy, wholesome food... mothers who stay at home like you or me who take time to prepare meals that nourish my family. I'm sorry for ranting, but all this to say, I appreciate your speaking out and the efforts you make to be a voice and example for those who strive to live as naturally as possible!

Hello, It is so interesting

Hello,
It is so interesting and helpful for me when I read something by someone who I would consider has many of the same values as myself but leads a very different lifestyle or has different opinions. So...thank you for publishing your opinion. I know that you posted this a while ago (I have been finding ingenious ways to procrastinate studying for my exams:) but I wanted to comment because it is a very interesting and important issue--and I don't necessarily agree with all of the sentiments you express. I am 100% supportive of healthy lifestyle choices... but I am also 100% supportive of medicine. For example, one of my friends is severely deppressed. Not from circumstances or from diet (she has tried many diets-fish, specific veggies, you name it)... but simply from genetics and brain chemistry. Medication has helped her profoundly.
I agree that health care reform should look different--and perhaps more--than what it looks like now... such as more education, support for healthy eating and lifestyles (rather than corporations putting out unhealthy products)... but I also think that we need to understand our connection to each other and to support others in our society. I have empathy for your tightening budget and I am inspired by your strength to live by your vision... but my family's circumstances are very different from yours' and perhaps that is what gives me a very different outlook. A main reason I support universal health care is that when more people are getting the OTHER type of preventative care (going to the doctor when healthy, getting education from the doctor about things like diet, ect.) it will help make our society healthier. For my family, (2 working parents, children in outside-of-home school, city living) doctors are a big part of guiding us towards healthier living.

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