Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

healthcareI know that there are downsides to socialized medicine, (and please feel free to tell me what they are) but I want to write about the upsides, and maybe the sidesides.

From my uninsured, and non-expert opinion, I think that the U.S. having Universal Health Care is a good idea. The main reason is that we have 50,000,000 people who are uninsured right now. We live in the richest nation in the world, and yet 16% of our population can’t get the help they need when it comes to health problems. The United States pays the most for health care, more than any other country, yet on almost any scale you choose to measure, we rank last. Out of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the USA, we rank last on quality care, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

I started getting interested in this subject when I got Michael Moore’s “Sicko” out from the library. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“That is a load of democratic socialist propaganda!”

Maybe. So I also watched this Frontline report that also tackles the issue of Universal Health Care with a more dispassionate, intelligent approach. T.R.Reid (Washington Post reporter) goes around to the second and third wealthiest nations, among others, and investigates their health care systems. He evaluates each system on how much it costs to the public, the effects on the insurance and drug companies, the level of care, and most telling of all, how many people in that country go bankrupt every year from medical bills. ( None, as opposed to 700,000 in the U.S.) He tries to take the best of each program and apply it to the U.S. One of the interesting points was that not all countries have total government owned hospitals. Japan and Germany have privately owned doctors offices, hospitals, and insurance companies. Hmm, maybe we can do this in America after all.

When most people hear “Universal Health Care,” they automatically think, “Total Government Control! Big Brother! Waiting months to see a doctor!” The reality is much less alarming. In fact, we already have government run health care in America. Just look at the care we provide our Veterans. Putting the scandal a few years ago aside, the network of VA hospitals offers some of the best care in the country. Don’t believe me? read this excerpt about the VA.

The Annals of Internal Medicine in 2004, published a a study that compared Veteran’s health facilities with commercial managed care systems in their treatment of diabetes patients. In seven out of seven measures of quality, the VA provided better care. A RAND Corporation study published in the same journal concluded that VA outperforms all other sectors of American health care in 294 measures of quality.

One of the big complaints that people have with government run health care, is that people have to wait a long time to be helped. Really? Cause when I took my Mom to the Emergency Room at a local hospital in NY with a severe cut to her forearm at 10:00 p.m., we had to wait until 3:30 a.m. for her to be taken care of. And it was not a bustling downtown ER with gunshot victims. I find it hard to imagine that we would have to wait more than five hours to be seen somewhere in Europe.

From what I’ve read, seen, heard from friends, and (gasp) in fact experienced myself, medical care overseas is prompt, professional, and cheap. When I traveled to Ireland, I got in infection (sparing details) that made my ears feel like I was fifty feet underwater. We went to a small clinic in a seaside village where I was seen immediately. I was a foreigner, and yet they saw me right away, proscribed medicine, and only charged me seven pounds ($15). If the situation were reversed, I’m sure that the sick Irishman would have to pay at least $150 for the appointment, that is, if they agreed to treat him in the first place without the consent of an American insurance company.

I’m going to post this now, but will be adding to this article as I learn more.

That is the question.

I have been straightedge for 13 years. That is: No drugs, alcohol, or promiscuous sex. But now I am questioning my beliefs. Did I even have any?

I am Christian and so you may think, “Oh, well you don’t drink because of your religious beliefs, like many other christians I know.” But I would say no. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, so he obviously supports drinking alcohol. Now, don’t misunderstand me, the bible says not to over-indulge, but it also doesn’t say no wine at all.

I was also heavily involved with the Hardcore Music scene of the late 90’s in Syracuse which was predominantly straightedge and vegan. I subscribed to those values easily and have since seen many of my friends “lose their edge” and drink. I was never vegan though, I just love meat too much. Mmmm steak.

So why now? I was having dinner with my wife and she wanted some wine that my godmother had given us as a housewarming gift. She seemed to enjoy it and asked if I wanted any. I (of course) said no, but I thought it was odd of her to ask. She’s known me for years, and that is one fact about me that has not changed. I just don’t drink alcohol. We even have a funny story from when we were in Germany. We were visiting some of Opa’s friends and they asked if I would like some wine. I said, “Nien danke, Ich bin anti-alcohol.” They just couldn’t comprehend that someone wouldn’t drink since that is a big part of the culture over there. So the wife said, “OK, I’ll just pour a little bit then.” It’s like that scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with that aunt who is astounded that the guy doesn’t eat meat. “OK, I make lamb instead!” But it got me to thinking, why not. I’m grown up. I’m not going to get plastered. Hmmmm.

So why do I not drink? Back in high school, I chose not to, to avoid binge drinking at parties and the casual sex that could result from said drinking. The Hardcore scene supported my choice and provided a strong sense of unity and belonging. “We are strong because we choose not to pollute our bodies and minds.” But part of me wonders that the real reason I don’t is that I have a semi-addictive personality and I’m scared I might turn out to be an alcoholic. Are you surprised? Have you seen me in one of my phases? Like the straight razors, or pirates, or martial arts, or…

I also think that, Well, I’ve been drug free all these years, it would be a shame to throw that away. Plus alcohol is just another thing for me to spend money on when we go out. Water is always cheaper than beer. (from the sips I had when I was 14, I remember not liking beer, or scotch, which is blasphemy from someone who identifies himself as Scottish)

Why do I WANT to drink? I suppose that I associate it with being grown up, having a glass of wine with supper. My cousin also brews his own beer and I always feel like I’m insulting him by not trying his creations, even though he knows that I don’t drink. There is also a huge amount of medical evidence that red wine is good for you, but on the other hand, I could just take Resveratrol supplements and get the same benifits. I also feel that I am somehow missing out on the pleasure of well made drinks. I certainly enjoy drinking a great many things. Coffee, tea, juice, fruit smoothies, etc. Conversly, there are so many styles of coffee and tea that I could be happy for years drinking the different varieties that just those two beverages have to offer.

So what should I do? I guess for now, I will continue in my sobriety until something changes. I don’t have a strong urge to drink and now that I started taking resveratrol, I don’t have anything to gain from the benefits of wine. One pill equals the amount of reveratrol in 200 glasses of wine, without the damage to your liver.

What do you think?

So here’s a quick update:

I had my first glass of wine at Easter dinner this year (2011.) (I bought the bottle for my wife for Valentines Day and kinda forgot she was pregnant so we had to wait to share a glass) It was ok, not great. I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t feel a magical bubble pop in my psyche. I didn’t feel my cells rejoice about their shot of resveratrol. A few weeks a ago I attended a wedding at a vineyard. I had 2 &1/2 glasses and may have felt a tiny buzz, but that may have been a headache from the sulphites. I also had a beer at a family BBQ and experienced the same “meh” feeling. I could not imagine myself drinking 5 or 6 of them in a row.

So that’s it. I do drink now, but I’ve still never been drunk and don’t really plan to be.

Why did I start now? Well, I’m 30 now so I guess I qualify as “grown up.” I feel like I should be able to have a glass of wine if I want to. An old friend and I were talking about this topic a few weeks after I had my first sip and he said, “Don’t let labels define you. You have enough of them that other people place on you as it is.” Being “straightedge” isn’t as vital to me now as it was. I’m not suddenly going to start doing black tar heroine or anything, but I feel like I shouldn’t feel bad about trying my cousin’s homemade ale, or sharing in a champagne toast at a wedding.

What do you think?