I know I'm supposed to be "on hiatus" from my usual ramblings and rants for a few more weeks, but unfortunately events sometimes require me to step in and unload with a special one.
Talk Radio host Rush Limbaugh, considered by some to be the unofficial populist leader of the GOP, was rushed to the hospital yesterday evening while vacationing in Hawaii. Curiously, this is the same state where President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are staying. I'm sure all parties are screaming "COINCIDENCE!" about this somewhat convenient travel plan between political opposites.
No doubt Limbaugh is receiving the best of care in the Queen's Medical Center after being admitted there complaining of chest pains.
But his plight probably did not have to go through all the complications that my parents and I had to go through.
My father is a three-time cancer survivor. We're talking colon cancer, skin cancer, and a rare deep-tissue cancer that the doctors initially couldn't find. Fortunately the doctors managed to treat and eradicate all three forms.
During his recovery from colon cancer, however, there were some complications. Scar tissue from the surgery developed inside his intestines instead of the outside. In other words, his insides were being closed shut. What would normally go through the bottom of his stomach to be further absorbed was being forced back up.
My mother and I had to rush my father to the hospital thirty minutes away instead of the one only five minutes away from the house. Why? Because that is where his doctor is located.
Once we walked him into the Emergency Room entrance, we had to wait for HOURS until someone could take him into an examining room.
Mind you, during this time my father was sitting there with a bucket in his hands quite literally puking out of his mouth what would normally go out the other end of his body. And there was nothing that I or my mother could do other than to sit there with him as he went through this FOR HOURS.
And sitting there in that same room also awaiting help were people wrapped up in bandages, screaming children with ear infections, people in splints and crutches and wheelchairs, people who were in obvious pain and agony, like my father, who also had to sit there and suffer.
How long did Rush have to wait in the Emergency Room in Queen's Medical Center before someone attended to him? Was it hours, like my father had to go through, sitting amidst all of the other people who were hurt and in agony? Or was it nanoseconds?
Of course it's easy to haggle about the fact that Rush Limbaugh is a huge media celebrity who makes millions from his syndicated radio show and his numerous book sales and speaking appearances, and I’m sure he’s worth every penny.
But I also have to wonder if his position on healthcare and reforming the current system would be different if he had to wait alongside my father in that Emergency Room, having to watch him retch and moan in agony, and hear the endless screams and groans and moans of other patients for hours on in.
When the subject is about healthcare and health reform, I don’t have the luxury of doing so while covered by some cushy platinum VIP benefits package that guarantees me immediate care by the best that money can buy. I have to look at this subject in the same way that millions of other hard-working Americans HAVE to look at it… by the four hours of waiting around the Emergency Room amidst all of the other people who needed care and could not get it at their beck-and-call like Rush Limbaugh is currently receiving. By the frustration of my father, who had to sit there with a bucket between his legs, moaning in agony as his intestines closed up and everything that should be going down was being forced back up his throat. By the frustration of my mother, who had to sit there sorting through insurance cards trying to make sure she could present the hospital administrators the right ones to supposedly “hasten” a process that was anything but. And by the needless anguish from both parents as they spend the following weeks trying to coordinate between the hospital and the insurance providers to make sure that checks are cut and payments are made from a multi-billion-dollar bureaucratic process that intentionally has more complications than the initial surgery itself.
THIS is what healthcare is about, Mister Limbaugh. Not the scary tactics generated by your friends like Sarah Palin and Chuck Grassley. Not this delusional fantasy that government would come between you and your doctor, who, in my father's case didn't even bother to show up at the hospital until AFTER he was already undergoing tests, and after being in agony for several HOURS. It's about the people who have to sit in the emergency room for HOURS in pain and agony just to be treated, and then the absolute frustration that comes weeks if not months later as the bills come due and the insurance company executives decide whether or not they should fulfill their part of the deal and pay the parts that they are supposed to cover.
THAT is what the REAL hard-working Americans have to put up with.
Isn't it nice to know, then, Mister Limbaugh, that you and all your friends in Washington and your friends who run the Tea Party meetings don't have to worry about those little details?
So get well soon, Mister Limbaugh, so you can go back on the air and crow about the kind of medical coverage you got, and spin the continual fantasy that you received the kind of care that every other hard-working American currently gets. Just don’t expect people like myself to buy into your mirage and drink the sand that you claim is champagne.