Happy New Year

I’m particularly upset about our health care system this month. I’ve seen a number of patients whose outcomes would have been much better had they been insured.  It’s not just the fact of being uninsured that keeps them away from me; my hospital and most others will take care of you with or without insurance. It’s the fear of being saddled with crippling bills that seems to keep many people from seeking care.  In my experience, patients in the U.S. will often wait until a condition becomes unbearable before taking the financial risk of seeking medical care.  For this, I am ashamed. I wonder if there is more that I can do, more that I should have done.

It’s Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish new year,  a traditional period to consider how you’ve lived, how you’ve treated others during the past year. My daughter asked me about this. I’m not terribly fond of explanations that are summed up as, “Because God says so,” or “Because it’s in the Torah.” Even if I believed these, it removes the thinking, the work of real introspection. I explained that it’s a time of year to focus more than usual on how we treat others, and how we treat ourselves.

“Sometimes I get mad at you, honey.  I’m not sorry about that, but I am sorry that I yelled at you, because that probably didn’t help.”

She seemed to get that. I don’t want my kid thinking she’s some sort of flawed, guilt-ridden person, but she certainly needs to know that everyone makes mistakes and that with a little work, mistakes can be fixed.

It’s OK for kids to feel bad sometimes. Without empathy, a child can grow up to be a bully or a sociopath. Empathy comes with age, with maturity, and some of it must be taught. But empathy can be pretty painful.

We just moved. I’m sure it will be for the better, but the move was unexpected, the second one in as many years. I remember fearing moving as a kid. My best friend had moved in third grade, and I still saw him all the time, but when you’re a kid, you don’t usually like big, dramatic changes. Hell, my kid doesn’t like it if you make her the wrong kind of mac and cheese. She seemed to be OK with the move, though. She was excited about the new house, helped pick out the paint for her room. We had a little hint of trouble when we showed her the bedding we’d ordered and she melted down over having been left out of the decision.

But last night was lousy. It was her first night in the house, and around bedtime, she started to lose it. She sobbed uncontrollably, “I want to go home!” After a few hours of guilt-inducing, heartbreaking crying, she finally calmed down in front of the TV, watching ET and eating warm challah with butter.

I’m not going to atone for moving. It’s part of life. And I can’t atone for our healthcare system, except by practicing the way I think is right, and voting the way I think is right.  We’ll teach our daughter to think for herself, and to be able to see the difference between callousness and compassion, between appropriate self-interest and selfishness.

Tonight, though, I’ll come home from the hospital, plate up some leftover brisket and lukshen kugel, and cuddle my family, thankful the worst we have to endure this month is an unexpected move.

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5 Comments

  1. kmom

     /  September 17, 2012

    Thank you. It helps, I think, just to know that why we haven’t sought health care earlier or are dragging our feet about a suggested test or treatment. It isn’t because we are stupid, or think you are…..it is because we can’t afford to use our health insurance. And we can’t be assured of how much it is going to cost. And if it means bankrupting the whole family, we are going to hesitate. a lot. It could be the start (or continuance) of falling down an endless hole….

  2. Chris

     /  September 17, 2012

    You don’t know many military brats, do you? Moving was part of our life. As an Army brat I started kindergarten in Texas, and graduated from high school there. But none of the years in between. I even ended up going to kindergarten in two other states thanks to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is part of me attending schools in nine different school districts in total.

    Though I am told I went into a period of selective mutism after my first move when I almost three years old. But after a while a child starts to deal with change if it happens all of the time.

    At least we had very good healthcare. Even though there were issues with the quality of medical technicians at the Army hospitals when the best ones were in Vietnam. It also left me with a spectacular vaccine record: seven smallpox, two for yellow fever, plus vaccines for typhoid and typhus.

    Thanks to Obamacare we were able to get our 24 year old disabled son the heart surgery he needed through spouse’s insurance (I can’t work because I still deal with his issues). He is too disabled to work, but not enough to qualify for the state’s Department of Development Disability. So I dread what happens at his next birthday, and hope that he can get some kind of employment. Though between his learning disabilities, heart condition and psychological issues I am not holding out much hope.

  3. lumbercartel

     /  September 18, 2012

    Shanah tovah, and may you and your family find joy in both the new house and the new year.

  4. L’shana tova u’metuka from my family to yours. It’s been an awful year for my friends and family, including deaths and amputations and surgery, so I’m hoping that the new year will be better for us.

    Oh, and as someone who hates change, even small changes, I’m sympathetic to PalKid! But I always survive changes and I’m sure she will too 🙂

  5. Namnezia

     /  September 18, 2012

    Shana tova!

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