Who cares

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the 2010 Health Care Bill.

In the weeks and months prior to this historic occasion, the nations media had publicized contentious debate on the issue, falling almost exclusively along party lines.

For the 13 days preceding the signing of the law, I was in hospital, fading in and out of consciousness. I am told that I was near death, but fortunately I have no real recollection of that. I do have moments of clarity about some few events – the appearance of my sons and daughter, and of course the gentle ministrations of my wife – but for the most part I recall how the whole scenario of the angry debate emanating from the TV seemed so hostile and derogatory. It also seemed ironic to me that I was having this medical crisis during the time of this broadcast debate. &bsp;

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Interspersed around the emotions of concerned family and the depressingly nasty comments of the talking heads regarding the Health Care Bill, are hazy images of medical personnel as they went about the business of saving my life. Emergency procedures were applied early in the process. Doctors and nurses came to check first this function and then another. Medications were started and adjusted. Always vital signs were monitored and recorded. Food was delivered and I was encouraged to eat. Toilet functions were arranged and assistance was available as necessary. Aides made and remade the bed.

The floor was kept spotless. Special tests were run. There was a constant focus of attention on meeting my medical needs.

All the above-cited care was done with a gentleness and kindness that was from the heart. When caregivers are smiling and speaking encouragement to those to whom they minister, its not difficult to spot sincerity; and I found that sincerity everywhere during this trying experience. &bsp;

From the hospital, I was transferred to a Skilled Nursing/Rehab Facility.

Still pretty rocky, I was fairly helpless for a while. As the days passed, however, an array of nurses and therapists began easing me into a routine of exercise and learning, which eventually allowed me to come home to complete the work of recovery. The attitudes of these people were equally amazing to me. They were always positive, always encouraging, and always considerate.

Again, everyone did their job, from the medical director to the janitorial staff; and did it with smiles and kindness. I came away from this experience with a new awareness of those who choose to earn their living in the medical environment – they seem to be called to the work, rather than just collecting a paycheck.

Since Ive been home, Medicare has allowed me to have continued care in the form of nursing and physical therapy – again delivered by caring and competent professionals. While my recovery is still far from complete, I am slowly being able to resume most of the activities that I enjoyed before going into the hospital. During this process, I have thought on numerous occasions that everyone should have the chance to recover from medical issues that come along in life. Im glad that the president signed the bill, even if it is modified (and there are portions of the bill that will and should be modified). But the idea of universal health care is now in place.

Those who would destroy it (rather than changing the unworkable parts) do so at the peril of being so elitist that they call attention to the mean-spirited notion that youre only deserving of care if you believe a certain way, make a certain amount of money, live in a particular neighborhood, or have a particular skin color.

Destroying this movement toward universal health care, while continuing to fund wars, reveals a character that is quite different from the claims that so many Americans make about the US being the beacon of freedom and well-being.

The value of any culture can only be measured by how it cares for its elderly and its helpless citizens. The providers of medical services in our nation have the competence and the caring to demonstrate the greatness of this nation. I salute them and their commitment to assisting the infirm to reach toward maximizing their lives. Likewise, I commend those who worked so hard to pass the 2010 Health Care Bill which extends quality care to those who couldnt otherwise afford it.

Don Weathington is a retired psychotherapist and business owner who lives in Gillette Woods at a place called Birdland.