poverty

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Seeing the Metropolitan Opera “live” (okay, it was an ‘encore performance’ so not so live) on high-definition on a big screen is breathtakingly beautiful.

MET Live Prince Igorin a poppy field.

Prince Igor-a classic traumatic brain injury yields a fantasy sequence in a poppy field.

For one thing, the audience gets swept up in the phenomenon so completely they applaud wildly and spring to their feet fairly often. The greatest ‘Standing O’ from the audience in the beautiful California Polytechnic theater was not for some blood-curdling death aria, but rather for the trailer for Prince Igor.

In the trailer, the blonde interlocutrice interviewed the male lead, who spoke good English with a fairly hefty Russian accent.

He told how his first job somewhere out in the sticks of rural Russia was being stagehand for a production of this

Read more on Upward Mobility…

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By every measure, America is hanging onto its first world status by a thread.  And even that is arguable.  We have been in slow decline toward third world status for the last 30 years.  And nothing speaks to this reality more than this country’s poverty rates. It is sad that poverty is measured in percentages and indices that are debatable at best.  As in many news stories, an effort is made to personalize — to render concrete — these elusive numbers.  The happiness of the person who found free fruit but could not afford it at Walmart, cited at the end of the article, is a touching story. These are the stories of real poor folks, who have seen me as patients, in rural northern California. Folks like the married couple, both of whom were on active army duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  They left their kids with their parents while they served.  They wanted to continue serving, but were informed they could not because of “military cutbacks.”  They asked for job direction from VA counselors who were no help, and finally both found minimum wage jobs.  Their new wages combined total less than 1/4 of their military salaries, but they still make too much to qualify for insurance.  They own some land — from the family – where they are living with their children in their parents’ houses.  They are wondering how they are going to pay for their children’s medical care. Like the young man who has impacted wisdom teeth and back pain from a serious accident at a saw mill.  Something ran amok and tons of wood fell on his back. He cannot pay for either dental care or an operation on his back.  His family has chipped in for medical marijuana.  He has no idea of how to do anything except stay home, in pain, depressed, and stoned. Or there’s the older woman on oxygen who cannot lift her tank and has a bag of pills she cannot lift either.  She needs me to hold her hand while she limps with great pain into my office.  She has a broken hip but until she is old enough for Medicare — a year or so — mostly her friends shop for her and bring her everything she needs.  What she really needs is an operation on her hip but has no idea how to pay for it.  I tell her to ask her doctor for some kind of a device to assist ambulation.  She says a cane is not enough and nobody will pay for a walker; certainly not for a wheelchair. Some people think Obamacare might help but have no idea what to do until then.  I have seen unemployed young people who are glad they are still on their parents’ health insurance. The kinds of things I am seeing are the kind of things that missionaries see in third world counties.  I know some physicians who have been discouraged from that kind of work, simply because people need basic food and shelter before they can be cured or managed.  From what the people above tell me, they do not seem to have these things, either. Hanging on by a thread to our first world status?  No.  The thread has broken and we are third world. Now.

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Poverty, illness and desperation are a tragic trio and destroy unknown numbers of lives.

One story that broke my heart was that of a sweet young thing, age 23, who had inherited nothing from her father but a disease.

She needed a “specialty medicine” for it — one of those medicines that is so expensive that nobody seems to want to pay for it.  But she lost her job due to “downsizing” so she had no insurance and no money. Read more on US Healthcare Is A Tragedy, Not A Success…

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Jokes about how hard it is to read a doctor’s handwriting are older than Hippocrates himself.  Many think this is the only reason for someone to attend pharmacy school – to learn to decipher a doctor’s handwriting.

Actually, I’ve been told that mine is pretty easy to read – for a doctor.  At times, I scribble handwritten notes rather than typing into ever-present-laptop or dictating.  Later, when my husband is trying to decipher the notes to add to my blog or weekly newsletter he can come up with some new twists on the “unreadable doctor’s handwriting” jokes.

Obviously, I love a man with a sense of humor – even if it is at my expense. Read more on Illiteracy Is (Much Too) Widespread…

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