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Maybe we don't deserve health care
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Iíve been thinking about health lately, probably because a friend of mine died in early September. He was a year younger than I was, and anytime someone close to your age dies, it makes you stop and think a little.
Iíd known this person for nearly 20 years, and for that entire time, he was morbidly obese. The past few years, he was in and out of the hospital. Diabetes, congestive heart failure, and I donít know what else. Heíd been on disability for several years.
So when he died, I was a bit freaked out. I had a gut feeling he wouldnít make it to 50, but I thought heíd be closer to 50 than 40. After he died, I started exercising and trying to eat better. Itís always been a struggle for me, but itís not just my friend that has sparked me into action. I see a variety of people each day during my various jobs, and hope that I never become as enormous as some of them. Iíve realized Iím a bit of a carboholic, and once I get started, itís hard for me to stop. I do, but sometimes it takes a while. Iíll probably never be really skinny again, but neither do I want to be 350 pounds.
The health care debate seems to have cooled off, but I canít help but think, maybe we DONíT deserve nationalized health care. Iíve been insured and uninsured, and Iím glad I was able to take care of that fibroid tumor I had. It was one of those things where it wasnít life-threatening, but if it had gotten larger, it might have been. Had it caused my bladder to burst, or made something else go horribly wrong, I would have ended up in the ICU, racking up thousands of dollars in charges every hour, or worst case scenario, Iíd have died. What caused my tumor? I donít know. I asked both of my doctors, and they said they didnít know either. We may never know. But I know one thing: Iím trying to eat better. Today, my lunch wasnít healthy, but it was free, provided by the persons conducting the training session I had to attend. I should have packed my lunch, but I didnít. I jogged a couple of miles to try and make up for the pizza, breadstick and Coke I had. And Iím planning to go protein and veggies tomorrow, with perhaps some green tea and miso soup.
It seems though, that people who are considerably overweight sometimes take pride in the fact they are so big. I see young guys at work toss down the latest Arbyís conglomeration of beef, cheese and bread, washed down with a 32 ounce soda. I read online about someone who was upset during his visit to a well-known buffet restaurant that only served him paper-thin slices of prime rib. He said he was a big boy at 250 pounds, and that he loved prime rib and resented the fact he had to keep returning to the line. I wanted to post a response saying that he wasnít the only one at the restaurant and perhaps others wanted to try the prime rib too. And maybe the restaurant was doing a favor by making him go up to the line repeatedly (itís a little bit of exercise, after all) but I didnít.
It does make me think, though, that maybe we donít deserve health care. We eat crap, we donít exercise, we donít get enough sleep, and we want the government to step in and pay for our sins? Before you send hate mail, please bear in mind I am totally sympathetic to those born with certain conditions, or if youíve been injured on the job, or if you are fairly healthy, but got socked with something. Things DO happen. However, if youíve smoked for several years, you start every day with four Pop Tarts and a 20 ounce Mountain Dew, and you donít exercise, Iím probably going to frown if you ask me to fetch something, because you refuse to walk ďall the way to the other side of the store.Ē Iím not going to be thrilled that youíre getting disability while Iím working three jobs. I mean, my particular disability is not being able to deal with assholes, yet I soldier on.
And I canít help but wonder if weíll have to make decisions in this country regarding who gets care. Will we treat a cancer victim who has a great chance of survival, or will we continue to provide care for someone we know who isnít going to get better, no matter what? Who makes the decision? Will we say no to a little girl who has cancer, but continue to provide care for a 35-year-old man who has been obese for the past 25 years?
These are some of the questions I think about when I look across the parking lot to a co-worker who continues to smoke, even though she has had cancer. Is she entitled to treatment?