28 April, 2009

pigs, not swine!

Well, I don’t know if I have swine flu. Maybe the question is, how would anybody ever escape any viral virulence when all I see are germs – on the train, in the metro, public rest rooms (which I prefer to call public distress room!), and the head-rests of seats anywhere.

The concern for me this morning is this: why is it so difficult to schedule a sick-visit with a physician in this great land of endless prospect and staggering wealth? Back home in Sri Lanka we go to the emergency room when our bleeding heads are in need of twenty-five stitches (or, sometimes, two). “The Emergency” as it is known, is a place to go to when in the throes of a medical emergency induced panic. We rush through red lights to such a place for there is no time to lose. Blood is always in evidence as are stretchers and a general sense of acute urgency. Tears are both audible and visible.

An emergency is defined as “a serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action; a condition of need requiring urgent action.” My father, suffering from sudden chest pains, was rushed off to the ICU in an army ambulance summoned by a now dead friend. I was hauled there without much ado as the white hearts on my dress turned red from the blood coming out from a hole at the back of my head. These were emergencies.

Needing to see a doctor because of a sore throat does not constitute an emergency, does it? The last time I was in the E.R. was because I had a sprained ligament in my toe and was unable to see a regular doctor because:

(1) I had decided to change physicians and needed all my documents transferred and
(2) I needed my insurance company to mail me a physical card with the new doctor’s name and phone number on it before I could be seen.

So I drove myself all on a weekday morning to the E.R. and was seen along with the dozens of other individuals with nothing apparently the matter with them that I could see. At the end of the examination complete with x-ray I was given one orthopedic sandal which made perfect sense since I am, as of now, fortunate enough to have two feet. I shuffled home and proceeded to develop a consequential pain in my hip. Insurance probably won’t cover that.

This morning I was told that I could not see a doctor for my clearly-strep throat until late afternoon tomorrow. Upon uttering the words “it is perfectly absurd that I am sick today but can’t see a doctor until tomorrow,” the receptionist asked me what my symptoms were. Suddenly, instantly, there was an availability. I’m in luck – the sick were being seen today after all!

So, do I have swine flu? Or do we simply live in a nation of health-care-industry pigs who are content to make money off a broken system? If I’m on the evening news, you heard it here first. Over and out, this is Ru reporting from the trough.

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The Books:

The Books:

On Sal Mal Lane

In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war.

A Disobedient Girl

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling map of womanhood, its desires and loyalties, set against the backdrop of beautiful, politically turbulent, Sri Lanka.


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