Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Public Health...Part 3

Laura..Dave...Michele...Tom in corridor in St. Vincents...on the way home.

OK….now where were we……Started out reflecting on my experiences involved with public health care….see the previous two entries. Now….would I have rather been home, in America. No question. Did it really matter that much to me what the expense was? Not really. The way our system works is that the expense….let’s project that it would have been easily $175,000 not $21,000…is an issue for the insurance company to absorb.

But, obviously, society ends up paying this price. In England and Ireland, everyone gets health care and clearly this has something to do with this delta. There are differences in the systems…which I got from my roomies. For a lot of procedures and tests, you have to wait and this can be for some time. The facility worked, but I wonder if Americans can ever get used to a six bed ward. Now, I liked it because I’m interested in people and…as I was sort of the sickest guy on the block, they all looked over me. This is not a bad thing and there was a sense of community that was established. I don’t think the public health system cares too much about who you are and/or how much money you have. So….it’s hard to jump rank. I’m not sure how I’d like that on a long term basis but I hope I could successfully adapt…particularly if it meant that everyone in my community (define community however you wish) had coverage.

Enough….on to the next chapter. We were flying Delta and were in business class. When we arrived at the airport…recall it is December 24, our plane was delayed. Anxiety began creeping in. We were flying to Atlanta and only had about 2 hours to clear customs and catch our plane. We finally got airborne. At this point, I was only living with about 5 feet of small bowel. What that means, functionally, is that I had a very difficult time staying hydrated. I’d drink quarts…literally…of sports drink and had to force drinking. While I was hospitalized, I was being given a drug called Sandostatin. This drug is injected subcutaneously in your stomach twice a day and helps with the absorption. Eventually, Laura and some nurse and doctor friends would come to the house and do this (I was too wimpy to learn how to do it). Looking back, they should have coached Laura and sent us out of the hospital with this drug and equipment. The upshot of this all was I got really dehydrated on the plane.

I’m guessing this was likely the second most stressful day for Laura. She was on the verge of crying a good bit. This was tough. We finally landed in Atlanta and had maybe 45 minutes to make the connection. The airport is loaded…Christmas traffic and bad weather. I get seated in a safe place and Laura goes hunting for help. I think she breaks down and a Delta supervisor (angel) takes over. We abandon the customs deal…the bags can just catch up. She gets a golf cart, puts me on it, and before we know it, we are on the tarmac (!!!) driving to the gate…the only way she could figure out to make this work. The plane to Charleston is slightly delayed. We make the connection!!!!!

Now…this is small commuter plane. I’m really fading…but finally we land. They get us off the plane. We have several folks waiting for us…but the only one I really recall was my precious son Josh. I fell into his embrace in the airport. Man….clearly one of the most touching memorable moments in my life.

Down to CAMC General we go. There is very little activity Christmas Eve in a hospital. My great friend Dr. Dave Seidler is there to make this all go quickly. Up we go…private room. They bring in the scales…I’m down to 141 pounds (from 170). I get hooked up to an IV and they run 2 bags thru me. I get the other drugs start flowing…..Laura and Josh make it home and she gets some Granny juice going (this is what granddaughter Zoe calls wine).

I got to admit…this all felt like the Four Seasons. Private room, special attention from the medical staff, family and friends nearby, and TV!!

I sent a letter eventually to Delta. If we had not made that connection, I would have had to go to an ER in Atlanta. I’m sure we would have made it but that was one chapter I did not need to write, if you know what I mean. Our love and eternal thanks to that Delta supervisor.

It’s been interesting to me sort of semi-publically reliving this experience. I’m guessing there is some sort of closure happening. Isn’t the whole new media thing interesting?

There are so many people that helped us. You know who you are or maybe you don’t but thank you! We’ll never forget you.

I eventually end up in the Cleveland Clinic. If I have the energy...I may write that chapter one day. Thanks for reading and for the many off-line comments. Bottom line...somehow....we need health care for all.


Dave Pray said...

A direct e-mail from a friend

Dave, thanks for including me on this. I agree with you….everyone should have health care. I just hope that in the creation of same , our “leaders” will have the good sense to figure out how to pay for it w/o further deficit spending, which they won’t. As a society , I think we have used all of our spare bullets trying to be all things to all people, and we are going to have to get real, sooner or later, or were all broke.

Dave Pray said...

Direct e-mail from a friend

Thanks for sharing…very compelling and true!

Kim Broughton said...

Thanks for sharing Dave. What a jewel Laura is.

Dave Pray said...

A direct e-mail from a friend


Quite a story and very scary. I am a convert, but then I've been living with a love of the British system for years. (Husband)'s parents were both doctors and were the first generation to work under the national health system. He and all his family, including the two doctors of his generation, are still fans.

Hope all is well with you and Laura.

Dave Pray said...

Direct e-mail from friend

Just read 3rd segment of the blog. Wow.............makes me feel grateful for my pal, DP and the tall sister.

Dave Pray said...

A Friedn directly said:

Comments: Thanks for the "heads up" on your blog. I was all excited at first with your rehab, but sort of dropped out when you started talking football. Your comment about the doctor apologizing for failing to imediately identify your malady brought this article to mind. You are preaching to the choir but, I am working on an angle for the hard nosed...How about, "How could 700,000 bankruptcies a year be good for the economy"?

Dave Pray said...

A direct e-mail from a friend

Thanks, Dave, very interesting. Health care what a topic! I think there are some things we are beginning to know that will help us in the future if we can take a few even baby steps, but right now its all about money and politics.

Dave Pray said...

Direct from a friend

"Bottom line...somehow....we need health care for all."

Amen, David, amen! We sure have found your story breath-taking. Thanks for sharing...

Dave Pray said...

Direct from a friend

Very very good blog, Dave…..and so glad you are here with us to share it.

Laura said...

Just like to point out that while Dave was dehydrating nearly to death on the plane due to lack of medication, no one needed to "coach" me on giving shots--I give shots all the time. They couldn't give me the syringes/medication because I'm not a nurse. Here there is no problem with that, thus he would not have been in that situation.

Dave Pray said...

A direct e-mail from a friend said:


Quite interesting given all the hoopla going on concerning current issue on medical health reform! Had a brief encounter in the British system. Broke my leg while there in 1970 . They took in my opinion good and quick care though person with me felt it was too long of a wait to get a cast but that was an American.

tracey said...

wow Dave...what a moving story. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. After reading your wikipedia link describing your condition, it's an even more amazing tribute to Laura's and your strength.
At this time no more residual health effects?