Our healthcare system is not remotely ready for ‘post-Covid’ America
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The issue is deeper than just health insurance and affordability, though. The symptoms that many self-identified Covid-19 long-haulers are reporting are the kinds of chronic conditions that American medicine is least adept at managing. The two most debilitating symptoms that long-hauler Facebook groups report are headaches and fatigue, or “brain fog”. Morton refers to her headaches as “zombie-aches,” as something “gnawing away at my brain”. She’s had migraines in the past, but this feels different and more intense.
In 2005, Paula Kamen published All In My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache, her account of a headache that began when she was 24 and has yet to end. In her accounting, for years doctors dismissed and misdiagnosed her, prescribed highly addictive medication with no plan for managing her reliance on these pills, accused her of exaggerating pain, and switched treatment plans seemingly at random. Her headache remains.
Kamen is not alone. In a profit-driven healthcare system, doctors are encouraged to find ways to speed up interactions, prescribe certain medications over others, and ignore social issues such as financial worries, debt, isolation and alienation, all which have been shown to have direct impact on health. Many who enter the American health system seeking care are turned away, mocked, misdiagnosed, or presented with treatment plans that they can’t afford. Women are less likely to be believed by their doctors to be accurately describing their symptoms or pain levels than men. Black patients are less likely to be believed than white patients. Patients without health insurance or means for payment are often unable to receive care outside of emergency room visits, meaning their illnesses and disorders only receive attention when they are in crisis.
Pain is political. And pain has always been disproportionately distributed to those with the fewest advantages. As Anne Case and Angus Deaton outlined in Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism (2020), there is a correlation between regions with high percentages of chronic pain sufferers and high percentages of Trump voters. Chronic pain – and the related opioid crisis – clusters where unemployment is high, where manual labor is the primary form of work, and flourishes alongside suicide and addiction. Regions hit hardest by the coronavirus, specifically the southeast and the Rust Belt, were already suffering disproportionately poor health outcomes, with shorter life expectancy and lower quality of life.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
August 16, 2020 at 4:12 AM #3478573fingerbrownParticipant
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What a nightmare existence millions of Americans are living right now in The Greatest Nation On The Face Of The Earth.
All governments lie to their citizen's, but only Americans believe theirs.
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