Sick in the Country

Americans have been very sick for quite a long time.

I have long held the belief that Americans are held hostage by fear of poor health or losing health insurance. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard stories from people who are too scared to move jobs or quit or go out into the freelancing world because of fear.

It’s time for that to end. And now that Obama’s been re-elected, I have hope for my health insurance future.

I took a risk four and a half years ago when Annika was born. I quit my job and within six months, I had no health insurance. It’s been in the back of my mind consistently these few years, the worry. What if something happens to me? What if I develop cancer or get into a car wreck?

If I get sick and need prescription medicine is a worry, but not so much of one. I can afford a cash trip to the doctor, although, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere, for sure. Anyway, I pretty much avoid doctors, since I find that nine times out of 10, they will tell you what you already know and then slap you with a handful of prescriptions that you don’t honestly need. And in all reality, might just do things to your body that you are not really happy about.

This week, I’ve been battling a pretty nasty sore throat and worrying that it might be strep. According to all the mainstream sites, strep throat is only curable by taking antibiotics. I hate antibiotics. They mess with my gut horrendously. I have only taken them once or twice as an adult and each time, I was left with side effects that made me feel worse than the actual illness.

But according to the natural health websites, a good dose of probiotics, and some various home remedy gargles will work. I’ve been swilling a concoction with apple cider vinegar and other various things all week. And my throat does feel better, although, it’s not 100 percent. (To be honest, even if I had insurance, I probably would be doing the same thing.)

It’s fear though, that we Americans face when we make these choices about health care and medicine.

“Nothing will cure you but this!” They tell us.

“You’re all going to die and you need to have crazy coverage!”

I don’t know. I spent many, many years buying into that system and you know what? Now that I’ve been out of it, I am none the worse for wear. I haven’t died. I haven’t made any trips to the doctor either though, and there are a few things I am behind on.

Now, I’m not advocating that everyone run out and ditch their insurance. I do know of many people who do really need it. (And as I’m writing this, I can hear their voices in my head.)

I just believe that we should all have access to it. It shouldn’t be tied to our jobs or our continuous health.

Yes, we should have incentives for preventative care. I wholeheartedly believe in preventative care, which is why I think that I’m doing okay overall.

But as I was pondering yesterday morning, that I might actually need a trip to the doctor and wondering how much it would set me back, I thought, “This is ridiculous. Everyone should have health care. I do a good job with my work and my mothering. I am a productive member of society. And I should have easy access to decent health care without having to go into debt for it.”

I recently had a visit from Canadian friends. They have socialized medicine in Canada. They were talking about going to the chiropractor for free, acupuncture as routine health care and overall, they have no major worries about getting sick. Unless it happens over here. One friend said if she broke her arm, she’d get on the plane with a broken arm and wait to get it fixed until she was back home because it’s so expensive here. (Btw, folks, they also get way more vacation time than we do. Like waaaaay more.)

The notion that we should all work jobs that we many of us hate, in order to buy into a system that doesn’t work for everyone is a broken fear-based system that leaves too many people out in the cold.

And I am very happy that it the future looks brighter on the health care front. Perhaps our country is on the mend.

At the time of this posting, you’ll be happy to hear that my throat is much better after one day of swilling probiotics and more tea concoction. I am pretty sure I won’t need to go see a doctor.

The Constricted Nature of U.S. Politics

It’s Barack Obama wearing a watch. I know it looks like a cigar. But it’s a watch. And it fits on both arms. Don’t question me.

I’m a Democrat. But not necessarily by choice. I’m a Democrat because it’s my best option given the two very small choices. I realized during this election season that I’m raising a Democrat. And that bugs me.

I wish there were more choices. I wish, for my daughter’s sake and for our country’s sake, that we had more choices in politics. Given the diverse nature of our country, it makes more sense to have a number of viable options.

Sure, I could vote with a third party, but would it really count? That’s my dilemma.

I’ve voted in six presidential elections now. I voted for Bill Clinton twice. Al Gore, John Kerry (begrudgingly) and now, Barack Obama twice. I’ve also voted in a number of primaries, wherein I’ve voted inside my own party. As much as I like to tell myself I’m an Independent, as much as I like to think I could potentially vote for a third party candidate or (gasp!) a Republican, if I so choose. The truth is, I’m a Democrat through and through. At least, I always have been. I’m not conceding anything on the future.

Tuesday night, as we watched the precincts votes being tallied, Annika drew this picture and we watched the numbers popping up on the screen.

Before she went to bed, she worried that Mitt Romney would win because at that moment, his numbers were higher. I assured her that it was looking good for our candidate as I tucked her in and sang her to sleep.

The last thing she whispered before she fell asleep was, “Mama, I hope when I wake up in the morning, Barack Obama is still the president.”

“Me too,” I agreed.

When she awoke around 1 a.m., I whispered to her, “Barack Obama won!”

A sleepy, “Yay” followed.

Wednesday morning we watched his victory speech and she wondered if his daughters were in the crowd. We talked about how proud they must be of their daddy.

I’m raising a Democrat. I’d like to think that she’ll grow up and think for herself. Be Independent minded. Perhaps, she’ll join a peaceful revolution. Make changes in the world. I’d like to think that perhaps we could even disagree on politics. Out with the old, in with the new, as generations proceed. That’s how change comes. That’s how we progress. I believe that firmly. I want her to challenge everything and think things through. I want her to look at the past and say, “We can do better.”

We can always do better.

But dogma is powerful.

Statistically children tend to stick to political affiliations of their parents.

And as the generations pass, the two-party system just keeps becoming stronger and stronger as the parties continue to move forward with their own agendas.

And I wonder where are the out-of-the-box thinkers in politics? We can’t assume that they are all paranoid conspiracy theorists.

Even though I’m glad Obama won. And I’d gladly vote for him again. I do not wholeheartedly agree with all of the Democrats’ agendas. I think our country is missing diversity in our government. And it bugs me that I don’t have a better way to impart that on to my daughter.

Yes, I’m happy our party won. Yes, I support the basic issues on our side.

But I still think that we can always change and do better. I think we can not only move on, but move forward. But to do that, we need to be able to move.