Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Getting People the Things They Need

My upcoming medical mission trip to El Salvador was cancelled last week. I was schedule d to go to El Salvador in March and work as a post-operation nurse with the University of Utah's Operation Walk. Op Walk is a national organization of medical missions comprised of Orthopedic surgeons going to third world countries specifically to replace worn-out and malfunctioning knee and hip joints. In the united states having this type of surgery can cost from $15,000 to $30,000. We do it overseas for free. Until this year. the DOJ(dept of justice) has recently decided to crack down on 'gifts' given to Orthopedic surgeons due to some corruption that has occurred in the system. When a knee implant is deigned, often there is a design surgeon on the board giving his/her input into the designing of the knee. When the knee comes out and is approved by all the red tape, this surgeon will often place only this type of knee in his patients. he is receiving a bit of a kickback for using only this knee, made by this company. the DOJ decided that was wrong, b/c maybe that particular knee is not right for that particular patient. the truth is is that there aren't that many types of knees or hips out there and in general, what's out there works for most people. patients are not getting screwed out of a healing surgery, they still get up and walk without pain for the first time in many years. this system works. well, when the DOJ decided to crack down on the orthopedic industry, they said 'no more gifts to surgeons or doctors in the ortho industry'. this means no more gifts of cruises or farraris to docs for using a knee system. okay, that's alright, most docs don't really need that. however, it became personal when we cannot now get the needed knee and hip implants donated to our group. b/c it is a gift. b/c the DOJ has decided that is not right. b/c we are part of the orthopedic industry. no implants. no mission. no healing surgeries. no walking el salvadorians.

let's talk about socialized medicine. if we go there, more of this will happen. docs will leave the united states b/c of the regulations imposed upon surgeries. b/c the kick backs will be less. and other countries will give that to them. the most specialized and best surgeons will leave the US. it will become like the veterans hospital. routinely i see vets in the ER who come to us b/c the VA refused care. or b/c the VA had a 6 month wait to see the next orthopedic guy and they hurt right now. the VA is socialized.

however, let's talk about the ER. we are part of a broken system in the United States. I bet half of the patients i saw last weekend did not have insurance or any way of actually paying the bill that will soon be arriving in their mailbox. however, they still received care- good care at that. we didn't refuse them an Xray or a CT scan b/c they didn't have an insurance card. who is paying that? i am. you are. someone is and it isn't them. we can't continue this way. i have to ask myself, " is being healthy and receiving health care a human right?". i don't know.... if it is, surely our government should do something about it. but if it isn't, then maybe the world should continue on like it has for the millions of years before i walked on the planet. natural selection? it sounds harsh. i don't think we should go that far. but a balance is needed. health care is nearly unaffordable and people are not taking care of themselves, and then turn up on our doorstep asking for a better heart since they didn't take care of the one that was given them.

all this sounds harsh, yet my daily battle when i walk into work is to love the people i meet there as jesus would have loved them. how come there are no parables about jesus loving on total drunks or complete druggies? would jesus just listen to them, give them some juice, and tell them it would be okay? or would jesus say, you are not taking care of the body given to you, shape up or get out. maybe jesus would just lay a hand on them and they would be cured of their addiction. i'm not jesus, and my hands don't have that kind of power. what about the mentally ill? jesus just cast the demons out of the guy by the heard of pigs. is this the case with so many patients who come in in some type of psychotic crisis? what if i just started casting demons out in the ER? .......so i look hopelessly at the drunk and silently pray for them. i look hopelessly at the druggie and silently pray for them while i push yet another round of IV pain killers. how would jesus love these people? i'm looking for the answer every day.

i am part of a broken system. I am deeply saddened to not be going to El Salvador. I am a christian. I want to love people more completely. I am in process.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

where i've been

Early in January Mark, Katie, Eric, and I decided to do a 'dawn patrol' ski tour where basically we meet up before dawn and decide to skin up a big mountain and ski down. we started in pitch darkness and worked our way through a beautiful sunrise. it was glorious!

skinning up for Dawn Patrol

Katie, Mark, Eric, and I on the summit

the best part- coming down through the aspens!

Then a bunch of us (8!) from salt lake traveled over to Glenwood Springs, CO for a 3rd annual Glenwood Ice Festival. Lest you think this was a public event, it wasn't. Just a few (20+) friends everywhere from Washington to Utah to colorado got together to climb ice and go backcountry skiing. It was a blast!

waking up on saturday morning. that's (L) joy, katie, lacy and me

many ice routes were right next to eachother. then all the girls got really hot (b/c believe it or not the temperatures were rising in the sun, then the ice melted, then the shirt you were wearing got soaked anyway so what was the point?) what's better than all doing it together?!

Eric and I goofing off a the entrance to the canyon with the ice climbs.

if you turn your head sideways that's the way i actually climbed the ice....

We had a big party saturday night with friends from all over colorado coming to Mike and Joy's house (that's where we stayed in glenwood). Sam Higby got to meet up with us agaian! It was all going very well until i came down with another horrible round of the flu! the festival would have been much more enjoyable for me if i had gotten to partake in more than one day. that's why there are no more pictures b/c i laid in bed all day sunday and monday. i let the flu go for 24 hours until i almost passed out from standing up. it had been 24 intense hours of losing fluids from both ends. luckily i had 2 nurses to take care of me! joy(whose house we were at) and lacy arrived home from backcountry skiing to find me worse off than whenthey had left that morning. Joy works on a labor and delivery floor so she ran to her unit and 'stole' me some IV fluid and and IV start kit. Lacy, my friend in salt lake, works at the Pediatric ER right down the hill from where i work. Lacy started an IV in me at home and they gave me 2 liters of fluid right there. the bag was hanging from a plant hanger in the ceiling...it was crazy. but it was life saving as well. i was very sick. this all happened sunday night so monday i woke up better, but not well. that's when a couple of us decided to head back early to salt lake while the rest of the crew went ice climbing again. my crew got stuck in a horrible snow storm which closed the road we needed to get home. by the time the ice climbing crew made it to the road closer point it had opened. in the meantime we had secured a hotel room int he nearest city. the ice climbing crew decided it was time to push on so into the snow storm and the barely opened mountain pass we went. it took forever to get home from colorado to say the least, and i was still feeling pretty lousy. i can't believe i came down with another flu bug! i still had a good time in glenwod, but eric had more fun b/c he actually got to play inthe mountains. i'm lucky i had two nurses to help me get better though!

eric and i ended the month up with some turns at our own resort, Snowbird.

we were supposed to ski into a mountain yurt last weekend with katie and mark, but another huge snow storm blew in and we all decided that breaking trail through 3 feet of snow for 6 miles was not our version of a fun weekend. so to the resort eric and i went. i hope next year the yurt will work out.

that pretty much sums up january. now it's back to work until the next round of fun begins!