The elder. To my dear friend, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. – 3 John 1:1-2
So this is an adventure. Some might say misadventure, but I’m not so sure. Rebekah needed to get some unreasonable heart pain checked out Saturday afternoon, so we ventured out in the worst of the bad weather and checked in at the closest North Raleigh ER, just to cover our bases.
So they ran a bunch of tests, and the doctors there found them interesting enough to order an ambulance ride to the Cardiac ICU, located in the humongous Wake Med hospital closer into Raleigh.
Then there were x-rays, a series of EKG’s, tests I can’t spell, a bunch of blood tests, and more, before they decided what’s going on is pericarditis, a condition where a virus attacks the sac around the heart, getting it all upset and inflamed, causing the tissue to swell and the heart to be squeezed.
It also turns out that it was a smart decision to come in, because the squeezed heart situation can get serious if uninterrupted. Hearts don’t like to be squeezed, and the tissue surrounding the heart was objecting mightily to the infection and the irritation.
STATE OF THE ART: I’m always amazed at, and curiously engaged by, the sophistication of the technology that’s in play coming into a high-level care unit like this one. Nurses, technicians, physicians’ assistants, doctors, EMTs. We’ve seen them all (and I guess Blue Cross Blue Shield will be hearing from them soon!).
Along with these good people has been constant monitoring, compassion, competence, and state-of-the-art medicine. However, it is impossible to be the recipients of such care without being conscious of its limited reach. Cost, delivery, equity, and funding are all issues in desperate need of political solutions.
ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE: There is little doubt that the level and quality of care in the USA is second to none. At the same time, we have a mountain of progress to make when it comes to how to fund, expand, and manage the way we care for the over three hundred million people who call this nation home.
The conversation has certainly moved forward over the past decade, but progress is critically hampered by our resistance to looking outside the traditional context of profit and loss. Ultimately, we must move to a system where everyone is covered equally, where health care is a prepaid benefit of being a U.S. resident, and where “how will I pay for this?” is never a question for someone in need of treatment.
Meanwhile, we are grateful for good care, glad that we have decent insurance, richly blessed, anxious to get home as soon as possible, and – yes – still a little bit concerned about what it’s all going to cost.
Peace and blessings – DEREK