I See Collusion

There is definitely a trend I see happening in my life. A few weeks ago, I went to my doctor for a regular yearly checkup. Everything is okay, except your thyroid is a little off. We’ll wait a few months and recheck it before I decide what to do next. “Have you made an appointment with your Ophthalmologist for an eye exam?” The answer was “no.” I chose not to push my luck and made the appointment. It has been five years since my last dilated eye exam took place.

This morning, I went to see the Ophthalmologist. “Your eyes are good, except I see a buildup of protien behind the lens transplant in your right eye. This can cause blurred vision, but we can laser it out. “Can you do this in the office?”

‘Yes, but not here or by me. It has to be done by the doctor who does cataract removal at our other office. I’ll set up your next appointment there.”

“The free eye screening I had done by the Lions reported that I have the beginnings of macular degeneration.”

“Hold on; you sound like my wife, asking questions before I’ve had a chance to do the exam.”

By this time, my pupils were as big as the eyeball, and things were blurry. He instructed me to put my chin on the gadget he used to peer into my inner eye. The gadget shined two flood lights directly onto my retina. All I saw after that was a green cloud of light between me and him. “Yes,” he said, “there are signs of macular degeneration present, and since I’m not an expert on retinal issues, I recommend you see a specialist to take a closer look at your retina.” I couldn’t argue with him because there is one thing I have learned by working with the folks who attend OASIS meetings: out of twenty attendees with vision loss, only eight will be there for the same eye-related condition. The human eye is a complex collection system transmitting data through the optic nerve to the brain, where you see it as a picture.

Now, I have two new appointments with doctors I never needed before, and my plan to head south for the winter is becoming complicated. In my mind’s eye, I see a table full of dominoes all standing on end, and I have just tipped the first one over. I see the dominoes falling one against the other and never stopping until when? Until the end, of course, is this all legitimate healthcare or an organized effort to extract as much money from the system under the guise of healthcare? And what is the end, the last domino, the end of me, the end of money, what?

All I know is that I have been taking Lovely to a retina specialist for the past year, almost every two weeks, so she can get a shot in the eye to stop her macular degeneration from getting worse. When she comes home, she is incapacitated for twenty-four hours as she recuperates. This is not a cure. It is a preventative measure to help save what is left of her eyesight.

As my favorite actor William Bendix, often said on his radio program called The Life Of Reilly, “What a revoltin’ development this is.”

The Battle For ORCAM

I’m attending a Frankfort Lions Club Board of Directors meeting this evening. I resigned from the Board a few years ago after fifteen years. It was time to let the young people direct the club. I have switched my efforts to the BOD of OASIS, which serves those with vision problems. The issue on the table is that OASIS inherited a device called ORCAM from someone who passed. It is well over ten years old, and now we are trying to determine what to do with it. A quick call to the ORCAM distributor gave us some information that was in error. We were told that the old device needed to be upgraded. Like most computers, it requires some serious upgrading to handle today’s software. The cost was quoted at $1600.00. A brand-new one costs $4500. It was my job to sell this upgrade to the Lions Club. They, of course, are much smarter than I am and challenged the cost. The list of questions fired at me, the messenger, were too many and too complicated for me to answer. I went home with my tail between my legs, head down, and a bleak look.

I am not a total dummy, so I sought help getting answers and recruited two more Lions to assist. Happily, this evening, we will present a happier picture. The story has changed from $1600 for an upgrade of a 2011 unit, which will make it function only slightly better, to $1600 for a new unit with all the bells and whistles of 2023.

I believe the Distributor’s Representative tried to discourage us from seeking the upgrade, and has changed his original story from upgrade to buy a new unit, and since he screwed up so badly he is willing to give it to us at cost. If we (I) fail tonight, we will merely dig our heels in deeper and devise a new plan to secure an ORCAM for a deserving person.

For those of you who don’t know what an ORCAM is, I’ll explain to the best of my ability.

ORCAM is a company in Israel that invented a device that attaches to a pair of eyeglasses. The body of the ORCAM holds a tiny camera, a computer, and a speaker. The wearer can hold up a document, and the camera sees it for him. It then reads the printed words and transmits the sound to the wearer’s ear via a speaker built into the rear of the body. Between the eye and the ear a computer recognizes the words and converts them to sounds. The unit can also recognize faces to tell the wearer who he is talking to. That feature requires that pictures of people be entered into the ORCAM memory.

Don’t Shop For Food When You’re Hungry

The past two days have been quite a bit different from our usual mundane existence. Lovely went to bed early a couple of eves ago complaining of feeling lousy and having chills. She hid under several layers of covers and fell into a deep sleep. Our/Her grandson went about busily readying his inherited motor home in preparation for the first shake down cruise of the summer. Unhappily, he has suffered a series of motorhome failures that have kept the Holiday Rambler in the shop having the brakes worked on. After having it towed a couple of times he was anxious for the problem to be resolved. I, in the meantime, I struggled internally between taking a baby step on my project, paying attention to a sick wife, or writing blog posts, with a resulting quandary in resolving any of these issues.

Yesterday, Lovely complained of feeling generally lousy with pains in her left shoulder, along with a terrible head ache that has consumed her for the last four days. I knew what that meant, and prepared to take her to a nearby emergency room (15 miles). For once we arrived mid-day and not at 8 p.m. Our experience with emergency rooms is that they tend to become over whelmed in the evening hours. It seems that people put off complaining about chest pains until they are home from work. In our case we chose not to wait until going in during the rush. We bit the bullet and arrived at 2 p.m. Before we left, however we waived bon voyage to the grandson and wished him happy camping.

The ER staff responded quickly in assessing Lovely’s problem by taking an almost immediate EKG and some blood tests. A short thirty minutes later the nurses took Lovely in for an MRI of her head. Then we started the next step, waiting for results. It was seven hours later that Lovely finally complained about how long things are taking. She hadn’t eaten in a day and a half so I figured her blood sugar was non-existent thus adding to her headache. A kind nurse told her she couldn’t have food because the doctors might order a test that required fasting. Now, I tend to get a nasty disposition when I am super hungry, but Lovely made my tendencies look amateurish compared the the degree of nasty she exhibited. I finally went looking for her nurse and told him we wanted to check out, and go home. He arrived within two minutes with a turkey sandwich and a container of juice. I never saw Lovely attack two pieces of bread with a slice of turkey between them as aggressively as she did. I would say she “inhaled the sandwich. ”

1990 Holiday Rambler Motor Home

At about five p.m. we received a call from the grandson. He reported feeling something was wrong again, and shortly after that the motorhome blew a tire while on the Interstate near downtown Chicago. The exploding tire did extensive damage to the exhaust and the under frame of the vehicle. We made arrangements that I would pick him up from the garage where it was to be towed once again. He would call when he was underway.

At ten thirty p.m. the ER doctor consulted with Lovely and he recommended that she stay oversight so they could give her a stress test in the morning. I left her to go home for a snack, because I too was ravenous not having eaten since breakfast.

I entered the house at eleven p.m. just as it began to rain cats and dogs with lightening and thunder. My phone rang. It was grandson telling me he was finally on the way in a tow truck and I should meet him in thirty minutes. I had enough time to turn on some house lights and to eat a handful of nuts. We arrived at the Ford Dealer in Peotone, IL within five minutes of each other. I parked in front of the dark dealership and watched as the tow-driver threaded a needle with this huge motor home hanging off his back end as he negotiated between rows of dealership cars and then stopped. I thought it strange that he stopped without unhitching, and wondered if there was a problem. I texted the GS. He replied that the driver cannot release the vehicle from the truck until the payment clears. I offered my card thinking that perhaps the kid’s card was maxed out and not being accepted. His response was “no”. Another hour passed and the tow truck remained attached to the MH. Finally, the GS came to explain what was happening. When GS first negotiated the cost of the tow with the owner it was an exorbitant but acceptable fee. When the driver presented the bill it was inflated by three times the negotiated amount. Happily, GS held his ground as they entered a Mexican standoff. and finally wound up with a price that was still higher than first agreed upon but about fifty dollars different. The driver unhitched the MH, and went on his way. GS and I arrived home at 2:00 a.m. Now I can tell the story in the title.

Lovely was released from the hospital this afternoon. Her cardiac doctor said she didn’t need a stress test. The nursing staff skipped both her breakfast and lunch. She was famished as was I. We left the hospital as quickly as we could, and I offered her a stop for breakfast-lunch. She said “no, we have food at home.” As we drove out of the hospital compound she told me it would be nice if we could go to the deli. She loves her European food and loves going to delis that specialize in Old Country food. I turned the car into the direction of Orland Park where Gorka is located. It is one of our favorite delis. Normally, I would wait for her while she shops, but this time I chose to go in with her. Between the two of us we filled a shopping cart with European foods and deli-meats. The bill was $105 dollars for three bags of stuff. We came home and devoured as much as we could hold. Normally, we spend about fifty dollars on this quantity of food from this deli, but with inflation a one hundred dollar bill is the new fifty.

The New Industry In America

For the past few years a new movement has come in to existence in America. Our towns at one time were filled with industrial plants that made things. People worked in them and were proud of their efforts. Today, our towns are being filled with new buildings, one larger than the other. They are all medical buildings, clinics, labs, imaging centers, and offices. This afternoon I drove north from Frankfort toward Orland park on U.S. Route 45 known as La Grange Road and counted the following new businesses: 1.) Advocate Medical, 2.) Loyola Medical, 3.) Duly Medical, 4.) Northwestern Radiation, 5.) Midwest Express Clinic, 6.) Northwestern Medical, 7. Advocate Group Medical Center, 8.) Northwestern Medical, 9). University of Chicago Hospital Medical Center. All of these establishments stretch over a short five miles of road. I could describe a similar scenario if I describe leaving town to the west. Surrounding these huge buildings are the private offices of hundreds of physicians in business to heal people.

It seems to me that America is sick, very sick, both physically and mentally. What really impresses me about all of this is that people complain about not having health care. What they really mean is that they have to pay for health care. The real problem stems from employers and health insurance companies. Employers feel that they need to offer health insurance as a perk to keep their employees. Health insurance companies dictate what they will pay for services. This only means that physicians inflate their prices to extract a maximum from the payers. Other culprits that causes major inflation of medical services are government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid. These two organizations are notorious for setting limits on what they will pay for.

Operating alongside this medical industry is a vast under ground network of doctors and labs that take cash only. Of course they charge less because they get paid on demand, and don’t need staff just to submit documentation to insurance companies. Because it is always an insurance company that pays and the insurers are paid by employers, the patient feels that he gets the service free. This irritates people who do not have insurance because they see their friends getting so called free health care.

Add to this dimension the fact that modern doctors rely heavily on using modern technology to help them diagnose sickness. One of my friends who was a surgeon told me that many of his foreign class mates came to America to become doctors so they could return to their home country’s to save lives. Most of them finished school, got their license but never returned home. Why? He gave two reasons, 1.) they could make more money working in America, 2.) Their home countries did not have the same modern diagnostic equipment they learned to use in school. In their home country they would have to relearn their medicine in old country ways. Today, doctors depend on computers to assist them with diagnostics. Artificial Intelligent diagnostic programs can listen to a patient’s symptoms, analyze his blood test results and produce a list of possible illnesses in order of probability. Who needs a doctor when the computer can do a more thorough job? In most cases the doctor has become a data entry technician who can speak the language of medicine.

What we need to do in this country is to forget about medicine, and to learn to live healthy lives by eating nourishing foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Instead we have learned to live precariously, and when our bodies fail we run to a doctor to fix our problem.

In the “good old days,” when industry flourished in America, workers needed only graduate from high school to get a job. They learned how to run machines and to make things. Today, it seems, that workers need a minimum of fours years of college and if you want to be a doctor you will go to school for eight years, and you will be limited to fixing people, not cars or houses, or plumbing, or electricity. We the people of America donated all of those jobs to the people of China, Mexico, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and countless other countries in the world. The result is we send our kids to college, but fail to demand that they learn usable skills with which they can earn a living. The result is we have generations of game playing, order taking kids who wind up bored with life, and take to using drugs and laying around.

Yes, we have a new industry in our world, but we fail to recognize that a large percentage of youngsters will never make it in the information society and will fail in life.

Hooked on Series

Two TV programs have sunk their hooks into me and won’t let go. The most recent one I began watching is House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. The story line intrigues me as I want to believe that our Congressmen are not as stupid and conniving as depicted. Because I love conspiracy theories this program gets my attention because it deals with behind the scene activity of our Congress. It highlights the politics of getting bills passed. More than that it highlights the amount of back stabbing and favor trading that goes on between congressmen. Spacey uses the trick of giving “asides” where he looks directly at the audience and explains what is going on in his mind during dialogues with colleagues in negotiations.

The second most watched series is New Amsterdam a story about New York City’s first hospital which treats all people. The theme is definitely pro-socialist medicine. What saves the show is the main character who is played by actor Ryan Eggold. He plays the part of Max Reynolds the hospital Director not as a stiff suited administrator but as a scrub attired doctor whose main mission is to help people.

I must admit that I have a penchant for medical drama dating back to Dr. Ben Casey in black and white television days. Maybe it is because I spent a big chunk of my life in hospitals as a patient, a parent, and a spouse.

Max is the perfect example of a positive thinking problem solver, and the writers do an exemplary job coming up with solutions to his many difficult situations. The only thing I don’t like about this series is the emphasis on socialized medicine. The stories are usually balanced between the staff wanting to help everybody against the Board of Directors who seem to only care about cost and payment.

Also, within the characters there seems to be an inordinate population of home-sexual medical staff whose personal relationships become the story. The program also highlights the difficulties encountered by hospitals during the COVID pandemic. The entire staff suffers from PTSD, and battle fatigue. Another theme that they do an excellent job with is addiction.

At third place is a program called “The Blacklist” with James Spader as notorious most wanted by the FBI character Raymond Reddington. The entire premise of this series is preposterous and unbelievable. First the most wanted criminal lives within the country yet never gets caught, second because the same criminal is partnered with the FBI in a special mission to catch criminals. Usually, the criminals on the black list are creative entrepreneurs who exist to aide other criminals. The series lacks imagination when it comes to story telling. Each episode is played off a standard outline and the entire story seems to be solved in minutes. The cast has some interesting characters such as the computer, internet expert Aram Mojtabai who can find information on anybody seemingly within seconds.