Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Rare Political Post

We created this blog to keep our readers abreast of current events within our publishing house. Political statements? Those are for Ruth Sachs' blogs, not this one.

However, since so many of you have been touched through the past ten years by Joyce's efficiency, good humor, and love of life, we feel this "political post" is not only justified, but also important.

While in Utah, we tried to get Joyce the medical attention she needed. Doctors would not listen to us when we described her symptoms, much less pay her any heed when she spoke of things that bothered her. This is not a medical treatise, so I won't go into detail about those specific ailments. I will only say that they were serious, and life-threatening.

For me (Denise) personally, it was especially difficult to watch her struggle. We had a so-called "thorough physical" done by a geriatric specialist. That doctor declared everything was fine, no problems. She scheduled a follow-up with another doctor for 3+ months down the road.

At one point, her legs, ankles, and feet were swelled to three times their normal size, and she had sores on the bottom of her feet. Took her to the E.R. when red rashes appeared on her swollen legs. The E.R. doctor prescribed diuretics and ran a blood test. Period. She told him too how badly her back hurt her. He didn't run a single test, simply ignored that complaint.

We got to California, and things really got worse fast. Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The E.R. doctor here? Wow, he took her seriously. He called in specialists - to the E.R.! - and prescribed tests I'd never heard of. "Deep vein thrombosis" was just the beginning.

She spent the first week of June in the hospital. And I've had to take her to the E.R. once since then. But her legs, ankles, and feet are back to normal size. The sores on her soles are gone.

We also learned that the back pain the doctors in Utah wouldn't even look at turned out to be advanced stages of osteoporosis, with inflammation of the 'lower lumbar' due to severe arthritis. She wasn't being a hypochondriac when she said it hurt. It really did.

The doctor here prescribed her first-ever bone density test. No Utah physician ever thought to have one done for a 70-something woman! When the California physician got her bone density results, he said her bones are so far deteriorated, it's a miracle her back had not snapped in two.

So now she's on meds for her various ailments, and life looks much better for her. (And for our entire family because of that.) For the first time in over a year, she can sleep without sharp shooting pains in her lower back. She can go on walks along the beaches of Malibu without the painful swelling in her feet, ankles, and legs. She acts and feels about ten years younger than she did while we lived in Utah.

The political side of this update: I have been sickened beyond belief by the Sarah-Palin-Rush-Limbaugh-et-al comparisons of Obama's health care reform plans to Nazi Germany. For one thing, people who say that are proving their arrogant ignorance, or worse yet, their willingness to say anything inflammatory to rile the masses.

I've also been disgusted by the conscious, willful misrepresentations of Medicare reform as "death panels" and worse.

I've seen firsthand in Utah that there is no such thing as compassionate conservatism. Conservatives who are compassionate, yes. Many such compassionate conservatives are among my dearest friends. [Here's looking at you, Ernest. And Tim, Steve, Chris, Rob, Cliff, Taylor...]

But conservatism, especially the Palin-Limbaugh-O'Reilly-Beck-Huckabee-Hatch-and-so-on version of conservatism, is by its very nature not compassionate. It seeks status quo... for the wealthy. It would rather my Medicare-mother-with-no-other-insurance suffer excruciating pain, pain that was indescribable in its intensity, instead of providing appropriate medical care because it would cost the hospital or doctor a little more.

The Republican Party - not President Obama's health care plan - relegates our older citizens, including those whom GOP politicians like to invoke as The Greatest Generation, to the fringes of society.

Whether we were able to catch her osteoporosis and other ailments in time? We still don't know. I fret every time she takes a misstep, goes downstairs, gets up from the sofa wrong. I do know that if we had been in California when all this first started, she would be much healthier already. We lost valuable time in Utah.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you, to the good people of Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas. To the staff at Pomerado Hospital in Poway. To the crew of Providence St. Joseph's right here in Burbank (despite burning pizza in the kitchen and causing an evacuation because of "fire!" - funny...). To Dr. Magesh, Dr. Katz, Dr. Swarzman, Dr. Patel, and especially to the first doctor in Encinitas who listened, Dr. Pfeiffer, whose tennis shoes I covet.

You embody the qualities that our president and Senator Edward Kennedy (rest in peace) seek to restore to the American medical community. That sense that every person is valuable to our society, and can function and contribute only when well, only when whole. May your voices of sanity and genuine compassion govern the debate and drown out the voices of those who only seek power, not the good of our nation.

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And I would be remiss if I did not say a special thank-you to Clare Colquitt for getting me through those first difficult weeks with her wisdom, and to Gail Greer for assisting me with all that paperwork at a time when paperwork was the last thing I wanted to think about.

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