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Archive for January, 2012

The health care of the present is not your grandmother’s health care of the past.  Cancer is no longer a death sentence.  We can replace most joints.  Organs can be substituted.  There are antibiotics.  Childhood diseases are rare. Most people live well past retirement.  There are drugs to treat almost every ailment.  We have x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance to see inside the body.  The myriad of treatment options goes on and on.

Added to all of the options for treatment is insurance.  Medicare and Medicaid began in 1965.  The first employer sponsored plan was in Texas in 1929, though most employer sponsored health insurance became available after WWII, blossoming in the 1950s.  With employers covering the cost of health care it is no suprise that insurance companies formed, drugs were developed, and health care solutions were found.

Now add the regulations and complexity of the health care industry.  Accreditations, licensure, HIPPA, equipment, regulations, billing insurances, to mention a few make the cost for health care rise for providers

Fast forward to 2012, were health care is 17% of GDP.  In the US we spent 2.5 trillion dollars on health care in 2009 and the amount grows annually. We are currently spending over $8,000 per year for every man, women, and child in the United States.

Have we created a monster?  Some would say yes. We have created a complex system that our citizens take full advantage of.  We seek preventive care, we have our joints replaced, we treat our cancers, we save our stroke victims. Is there a price for this? Absolutely!  Should it change?  That is the $60,000 question.  Most of us agree that it must.  And most of us are afraid of what that will mean for us personally.  As the country with the second highest cost of health care in the world, it is likely that change is essential.

Most employers are asking their employees to pay more toward the cost of their care.  Even public employees are being asked to contribute now. Each and everyone of us is going to be impacted by the growing cost of care.  Unfortunately, most of us have no idea what our individual health care really costs.  How many can cite what their care cost last year?  I believe very few; while most of us know how much we earned last year or how much we paid for our vacation.

Are we willing to accept less care?  Should we purchase based on price and perceived quality, like all other purchases we make?  Or is health care an entitlement?  These are just a few of the questions at the center of the debate and the answers are likely as complex as the questions.  More thoughts to come.

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Go Packers!My local radio station, 92.5 WBWI, launched a unique recall effort this week. Although they acknowledged and agreed that this past weekend’s Packer game was played fairly and the outcome was indeed accurate, they launched a campaign on their website and Facebook to recall the game so we could have another shot at the Super Bowl.

Many people called in and went online to add their names to the petition (it didn’t hurt that anyone who signed got a chance to win Packer tickets for next season). But I think it highlights the fact that we Packer fans were grieving this week. And this recall attempt was truly an attempt at “bargaining”—an attempt to fight for control.

We grieve for the hopes and dreams of a repeat Super Bowl and a season for the record books. And for those of us who are Wisconsin sports fans in general, it bought up the sting of the Brewers’ and Badger’s losses as well.

It’ll take awhile for the sting of this loss to wear off. Many don’t even want to speak about the game right now—too painful and incomprehensible to even talk about. Others want to rehash it and find someone to blame. Most are just plain sad.

If only we could recall the game! But I know that the sting will wear off. One caller to the radio station this week asked for the recall to include the Brewers’ & Badger’s games. The announcer stated, “Oh yeah, I forgot about those.” And in a few months, this season will be in the past and we’ll be focusing on next years potential Super Bowl worthy team! Go Pack Go!

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Please read the following short blog by one of my favorite bloggers, Heather Hunter aka “This Fish”:

http://thisfish.com/?p=2424

I’ve never considered the loss, or what grief counselors would probably call “anticipatory grief” as it pertains to addiction. It’s an incredibly heavy thing to think about. We don’t often talk about losing someone who might still be alive and walking the planet. I think those who lose a friend or loved one to addiction are at such high risk – because just when they might start to heal, just when life might start to feel normal again, that person can walk back in and open up the wounds.

Heather’s poetic words, “a dress rehearsal for mourning” are haunting me. This is not the attempt at joy and a celebration of life that you might get from someone with a terminal diagnosis who is preparing in a healthy way with friends and family for death. To me, this is a lonely, hopeless statement; one that makes me feel empty. I can’t imagine what it is like to watch someone you love hurt himself and not have the ability to stop, even knowing that this may kill him. And what if the addiction doesn’t kill this person? What if it just takes away everything that was vital: family, friends, career, health, compassion, talent and more? How in the world do you even try to cope with losing what is essential about a human you care about knowing that a shell of a human is walking around with that person’s identity?

I am struggling with this concept. Do any of you, our readers have experience with this? Are the losses from addiction similar to death or divorce, or is this something unique unto itself?

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English: 'A pain stabbed my heart as it did ev...

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Speaking about the death of the son of one of the packer’s coaches, many newscasters this week asked the same question, “What should you say when someone loses a loved one, especially a child?”. Our first instinct is to say “I’m sorry”, but that feels inadequate. Then our next instinct is to not say anything at all. So, what should you say?

Say, “I’m thinking of you”, “I’m not sure what to say, but you are in my thoughts”, “I’m here to listen”, “I’m here for you and your family. How can I help?”, “Your loved one was very special and will be missed greatly”, “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I’m here to support you anyway I can.”
And you don’t even need to say anything. Give a hug. Drop off a meal. As silly as it sounds, dropping off toilet paper, paper plates, kleenex, or household supplies can be incredibly helpful since the family will be busy with company and planning and may not get out of the house for these errands. Take initiative and complete a task, such as shoveling, without being asked. Most people who are grieving are not able to identify what they need help with as thier loss is so overwhelming. By taking initiative and just doing it, it can be a weight off the bereaved.
Just listen and be there. We often overlook how healing our presence can be, even if we are sitting in silence. Really listen. Don’t try to fix it or take away the pain–we can’t do that. But by listening we are helping them start to heal. Share memories of their loved one. Share how that person impacted your life.
And most importantly, know that the pain will not go away after the funeral or in a couple weeks. Continue to be there for them. Check in periodically and let them know you are still there for support.

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