We've all had the experience...
You encounter the "gloomy gus" who wants to go into the details of his quadruple bypass and recovery therefrom. If you see him in the grocery before he sees you, you hightail it to the opposite end of the store to check the price of premium diced clams, hoping he's headed for the checkout line.
It pays to be positive.
Like flies to sugar-water, positive people attract others.
I'm mostly a "positive attitude" guy, but it's getting more and more difficult.
One of my last flights bummed me out.
"Your patient is at Rock City Memorial Hospital. She's a 58 year old female, renal failure and rule out sepsis. She weighs 320 pounds."
Ugh for several reasons...
It's hot. The Rock City helipad is adjacent to tall utility poles with wires, mandating a one-way in, one-way out approach/departure.
I check, and the wind is cooperating for an into-the-wind departure, thank God. But that can only happen after we have loaded her bulk into the helicopter. Hoisting that kind of weight through the clamshell doors will be a task that will require two people on the lifting end of the stretcher and another inside the helicopter holding the folds of fat away from the wall as the other two push and lock the stretcher in place.
I always stay close to my crew on these flights... these little hospitals don't have many hands to help lift these heavy patients, so I frequently need to don gloves to help transfer them from the hospital bed to our stretcher. This time is no different. She has about a foot of tissue overhanging each side of the hospital bed, so I'm interested to see how we'll elevate the siderails of our stretcher after we have loaded her there.
Six people around her, three on each side, we all grab handfuls of the bedding beneath her...
Steve counts "one, two, three", and we move her more easily than I thought possible until I do the math: 320 divided by 6= less than 60 pounds each. No big deal. Steve reaches from the opposite side of the stretcher and lifts the fatty tissue out of the path of the siderail as Jim raises it, then they do the opposite side. The siderails disappear. It's an amazing sight.
We load her, fly her, unload her, and get her to the ICU safely.
On the flight back to base I ask, "Was she insured?"
Laughter from the crew answers my question. "She was on Public Aid."
Your tax dollars paid for this "Uninsured" patient to fly by helicopter to get the health care she needs, folks. And tax dollars will pay for her hospital stay, because no federally funded hospital can turn her away, and all the Level One trauma hospitals in Bigtown are federally funded.
I'm conflicted here. How much of this is a lack of personal responsibility?
I realize she's probably mentally ill. I realize she needs a support network.
I realize for her, food is a drug. To her, it's a drug every bit as powerful as heroin.
But she is our slave, isn't she?
We have established a system where she has locked herself up.
On public aid, she has the funds to eat enough to make herself morbidly obese. (This case is worse than morbidly obese... what's the term for that?)
And the scary part? We deal with cases like this often enough that my question, "Was she insured?" elicited laughter.
I ask, "How does she get so fat on Public Aid?"
Jim responds... "Government cheese."
What is OUR responsibilty here in our nearly bankrupt health care system?
Isn't caring for a patient like this a form of codependency?
The system we've established is partially responsible for her condition!
And here is where it begins to be difficult for me to remain positive about the course we're taking...
Let's get back to personal responsibility. These days no one is responsible for the mistakes they make.
"I stole those shoes because he was rich and I was embarrassed with my footgear."
"I stole his BMW because he looked so smug sitting there and I can't afford one."
"I'm fat because I can't stop eating trans-fats at McDonalds."
And instead of realizing where our real problem lies and resolving it, (that would be HARD and would require facing personal responsibility), we're headed toward more Socialist attitudes... more codependency. "Hope and change" means more government programs and more tax dollars helping more of these folks get more access to "government cheese"... a vicious cycle.
I'm in a funk.
Help me to see how we get back on the right course.
Show me how to be optimistic about our future.