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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
What’s your basic problem? (01/25/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone; for the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, but has trouble enough of its own."

We've been living in a society that strives to be "risk-free," safety net under safety net. Some things are beyond the grasp of vulnerable human control. Don't mess with Mother Nature! Someone's smiling all the way to the bank. Hey, God isn't finished with me yet! Who fired that shot? Cooks must wear hairnets.

Don't look, Ethel! Latch the windows and bar the door! The secret to a long and uneventful life is "don't eat, drink or marry." Don't lug your excess baggage around forever- the trauma of that botched haircut as an adolescent, that rash that wouldn't go away, or wearing cousin Henry's hand-me-downs (not pretty on a girl).

No matter the precautions or grand plans of attack and resistance, something is out there lurking in the shadows. ODDS ARE: An enema will never be pleasant. A chocoholic is usually afflicted for life. Telemarketers will continue to invade one's duff time. A redneck will always attend his family reunions to meet girls. Bad hair days and hangnails are universal conundrums.

"Song sung blue, everybody knows one," Neil Diamond confronts whiners. Enough prattle. Recently, I've read articles as disturbing as they are informative. Medical practices fall under the heading "the good, the bad, and the ugly." Up front, I receive thoughtful personalized medical care from my primary caregiver Lisa Nutter, at the Lewiston Clinic.

Reports from recent Blue Cross & Blue Shield newsletters urge medical patients to "pay attention." "As many as 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors, making it the fifth leading cause of death in America." "More people die as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS."

"Up to 86% of the one million medication errors each year could be prevented by use of a computerized physician prescription entry system." "A single preventable adverse drug event adds an average of $4,700 to the cost of that patient's care." "The amount spent on prescription drugs increased from $61 billion in 1995, to nearly $122 billion in 2000."

It seems we are treating far more than we're curing. The average life expectancy (78 years compared to 54 years in 1920) means "people over 65 have drug costs that are 2.3 times greater than those under 65." So much for the golden years! Drug companies are investing billions in research, development, and advertising, which prompts people to demand popular brands when, in fact, the generic brands are just as safe and effective.

Employers are concerned about rising costs of employee health benefits. Health care spending today has jumped to "79% for prescription drugs alone, compared to 28% for overall health care." "Established pharmaceutical companies have consistently reaped returns of 19% to 24% per quarter, compared to .09% for the automotive industry."

The cost of prescription drugs could be reduced by $8-$10 billion a year with generic alternatives, without all the brand-name hype.

Now that I've totally depressed you, the bright side is that you have the right to make well-informed choices, of clinics and physicians, generic prescription drugs...and a great deal can be said for natural and holistic treatments and healthy eating habits. The way I see it is "BUYER BE AWARE!"

We can always laugh in spite of all this drudgery, we diehard Americans. "Put on a happy face!" "Optimism" comes from the Latin optimus, meaning "the best." If you wish to live "risk-free," smile and settle for "fresh squeezed," "organically grown," Depends, denture adhesive, and a good lawyer.

Novelist James Branch Cabell tells it like it is: "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." I believe the key word here is "LIVE," whatever the cost...it's human nature.

Take charge of your own health (and tell clean jokes, change your underwear daily, and don't share toothpicks). Be well. 


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