A Frank Discussion on The US Healthcare Plan

The problem comes in, that we are conditioned to seeing only one answer. And that’s what the insurance companies, medical doctors, pharmaceutical companies and government representatives (i.e. both Republican and Democrat)…want us to buy into. That:

Modern medicine is the ONLY way.

Well, it is in:

  • Medical emergencies
  • Terminal illnesses (in conjunction with prayer and spiritual healing)
  • Surgical intervention
  • Medical testing to find the pathology

And how did people get healed, before modern medicine came along? Well, they have 2 traditions…that are thousands of years old. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine. And they have another tradition called homeopathy.

And these traditions come with minimal sides effects. And don’t cost an arm and a leg, in terms of pharmaceutical drugs. And they don’t invent new ones – every year.

And there is something called spiritual healing. Which is well established and thousands of years old…in the Native American spiritual and medicine traditions. Or the Chinese equivalent of Qi Gong.

People go to these things – because they work. Or traditional medicine, has given up on them. Told them things, like they have a few months to live, etc. And the traditional doctors… will attribute any cure… to the placebo effect, statistical anomaly, etc.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will craft a bill And will try to tell us, it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. And the World Health Organization, will probably continue to rate the US…in the mid-thirties – quality wise.

And I will probably spend the winters…in Central American or parts of Europe – like Spain. Since i know the popular European languages…and the languages of Latin America. And if I do need traditional medicine, I would get quality care…at a fraction of the drug and physician cost.

Or perhaps learn Japanese – alongside Mandarin. And teach English over in Japan. And get into their health system, for around $350 a year. Anyone with a long term visa – can do so.

Try an experiment. Go to the US government STEP program at STEP. Type in a country to visit, under the link country information – towards the bottom. Then after it comes up, click on the health tab. Let’s take Chile, for example. See what they have to say – in part:

Santiago has two main private hospitals that are accredited by The American Hospital Association and meet U.S. standards: Clinica Alemana and Clinica Las Condes. Both have international patient departments and experience with some international insurance companies.

It”s like modern marketing and advertising. They say these brand name vitamins, canned fruits, cereals, etc. – are the best. Even though it is a fact, they often come off – the same assemble line…as the store brands or generics.

Or folks try to tell you, that OEM (i.e. original equipment manufactures), make the best vehicle parts. But after market parts, can be just as good – or better. And much cheaper.

Reminds me of attending the ELCA Lutheran church service this week – within walking distance. I noticed the Islamic center next store was packed. So I stopped a couple of black Muslims and inquired what was going on. They told me that Ramadan had ended and they were breaking the fast. Well, I realized something. These Muslims were from Africa. And I also met Muslims, from the Middle East. Those from the Middle East, I always experienced as rude to outsiders. And those from Africa, were warm and friendly to outsiders. Both under the same religious umbrella. But belonging to different cultures. The African Muslims shook my hand and thanked me for asking.

It’s kind of like my Christian faith. It comes with the base, of a liturgical tradition (i.e. Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran or Anglican). But I add to it Franciscan contemplation (i.e. Richard Rohr), via Buddhist meditation methods (i.e. mindfulness and Zen). A love of Native American, spiritual and healing traditions. And throw in some health and prosperity thinking – with Joel Osteen. And visiting saints from the East. Like I did with Amma, at here nearby Illinois center at Amma.

See, here’s what’s missing folks. Take the Center for Contemplation and Action with Richard Rohr. We emphasize the action part (i.e. Christian charity, good works, etc). But we are missing the contemplation part. The two go together.  And if we throw in TV evangelist Joel Osteen, we add the third leg. Which is to expect, good things from God.

Here is a recent Quora discussion:
How is the Republican health care plan in any way better than “Obamacare”?

Oh, yes. The Republican bill. I just got this email – from my AARP membership:

AARP opposes the proposed health care bill because it would mean higher costs and less care for older Americans. It would:

    Allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else and reducing the tax credits that help them afford their coverage.
    Cut Medicaid for around 15 million people, stripping away coverage from millions of Americans and leaving millions of seniors at risk of not getting the care they need.
    Cut funding for Medicare, leaving the door open to benefit cuts and Medicare vouchers.
    Providing tens of billions in tax breaks for drug and insurance companies.

We need you to join us in sharing this information on social media and helping drive calls to the Senate. Now that everyone has seen the Senate Leadership’s secret bill it’s being criticized by the Senators they need to pass it. The Senate leadership is cutting backroom deals to try and win votes. We need your help making sure your Senator’s vote no!

Together we can hold them accountable for their votes. Use your influence on Twitter and Facebook to urge your friends and family to join us in taking action today!

Oh, yes. I do have a sizable following – on Twitter and Facebook. And I did post – the AARP propaganda.

And I continue with my Medicare advantage plan. And all is well and good for me.

And here is an interesting article, in my email today. From the Dark Web News:

Access to Calls, Texts, and Location Being Offered on the Dark Web

steve wrote:Also hundreds of essential oils have been used for thousands of years because they work!

Just a bit of footnotes – to Steve’s comment. The technical name is aromatherapy. There’s a description of it on Wiki at Wiki on aromatherapy.

Web MD also covers the topic at Web MD on aromatherapy..

One name for modern pharmaceuticals is allopathy. I remember when I was anemic. And I had blood tests, conducted by the primary care physician. The nurse called and said I needed a prescription for iron. I asked why I needed “a prescription”, when they sell Iron supplements – over the counter. Well, they really couldn’t answer it. Except I know the prescription would cost more. And the brand name, over the counter version – would cost more than the store brand. Which. at the Jewel Osco pharmacy is Signature Care.

And when my mom was in a comma…making her transition…Guess what? They prescribed morphine, as a pain reliever. Which is over 100 years old. What happened to all the “superior”, brand name and generic…modern day pain relievers?

Sometimes you can blend allopathy, with Ayurveda, TCM or homeopathy.

Here are 2 examples.

  • Colgate has a mouth wash called Crest Pro Health. But the Dollar General store brand, is called 2X/Day. And it costs much less. And Pepsodent still makes a US based toothpaste, at a fraction of the name brands. I get this at the Dollar tree. But I mix this toothpaste, with an Ayurveda one. Either a Patanjali or Auromere one. Which is available at either Amazon or local Indian grocery stores. The Ayurveda is good for the gums. Which helps prevent gum disease.
  • Or suppose I get a cut. I wash it, apply rubbing alcohol and bandage it. But after the cut has sealed, I apply a homeopathic solution of Calendula Homeopathic ointment, to speed up the healing. It’s available at most US, health food stores.

For modern medicine to come along and say everything before it was useless…is like the Protestant churches to say God revealed the truth, in the reformation. And the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, are part of the dark ages.
And I don’t often get on a soap box. But I did today. :!:

And I will end with some health related, article links – a friend sent to me. And a good YouTube video, telling the story of homeopathy.

Regardless of what the Republicans come up with.

 

Digital Doctor – Are Apps The Future Of Healthcare?

Earlier this month, Google rolled out its ‘Health Card’ app in India. Google Health Card allows users to flip through over 400 ‘cards’ in order to swiftly correlate symptoms and learn more about diseases. While the concept may sound reasonably basic, the interface and efficiency of the app combined with the considerable expertise which came into the making of it renders it a very useful little tool. More to the point, the giant Google leaping into the health app fray indicates that they’re taking the medical potential of digital platforms very seriously indeed. As are many other observers, commentators, health providers, and businesses.

Doctor Google’

We all know that googling your symptoms is never a good idea. ‘Doctor Google’ will convince you in no time at all that a simple cold is Ebola, or that a stress headache is a brain aneurysm. Despite this, however, Google states that one in twenty Google searches are health related. For this reason,  it decided last year to put health-related information into its Knowledge Graph. The idea was not only to give Google an edge when it comes to amateur diagnostics – but also to prevent the dissemination of inaccurate healthcare information. Rather than relying on the hysterical hypochondriac power of user-generated health forums etc, Google’s own knowledge could commune directly with the searcher – and hopefully give more accurate and relevant information. This applies a certain amount of corporate clout to the world of digital diagnosis – but also indicates that Google is perhaps trying to reassert supremacy in the growing world of digital and app-based healthcare. The release of Google Health Card in India may be just another aspect of Google’s medical gameplan.

Health And Fitness Apps

Growing interest in our personal fitness has coincided with the kind of technology which can help us to monitor and control our health. Exercise gadgets like pedometers and exercise machine interfaces have been with us for a while now, but the introduction of linked apps has seen an explosion in health and fitness monitoring technology. From fitbits to diet plan apps, we’re able to weigh calories burned against calories consumed like never before – as well as assessing precisely what the things we’re eating and the activities are doing to our personal physiques. In the not-too-distant future, gadgets will be able to intensively monitor our vital statistics (including blood chemical content, among other things) and feed back to trained medical professionals. While there is the potential for people to get  a little obsessive about this , there is also a lot of potential for serious help where it’s needed. For example, borderline or recovering alcoholics with an app which monitored blood alcohol levels over time and fed that information back to a specialist are more likely to get the tailored help they need  to cut down their alcohol than if they were able to lie about the amount they’ve been drinking. From a business point of view, apps which fed certain health-based information to human resources could enable employees to get the help they need for any conditions from which they may be suffering (for example, gluten-free options in the canteen, ergonomic furniture, more breaks etc). If, that is, such a thing would not be too much of an infringement upon individual privacy…

Health Vs Individuality

There’s a very good reason why our medical records are kept private. For centuries, the Hippocratic Oath has bound doctors  to keep the medical information of their patients “unutterable”. And very glad many of us are about that, too! Who, after all, wants the world to know about their irritable bowels, or their persistent urinary tract infection, or even about the sneaky pint they enjoyed on a work night? Indeed, many people have let their conditions run on for years rather than having anyone – even a doctor – know about them. Clearly it is very important that the   standards of medical confidentiality remain unimpeachable. Apps which fed information – however innocuous – back to a third party would have to have their legal ramifications looked at in great detail, and the issue of consent must never be underestimated. Nor should individuals who refuse to use any app which informed their employer of physical information (however ostensibly harmless) be penalized for doing so. It’s a situation which is doubtless going to come into play and begin causing friction before very long – watch this space.

Author

This is an article by Helen Freeman

 

 

Mindfulness – A New Path To Treat Addiction

Addiction is said to be the scourge of the modern generation, with more and more (and increasingly young) men and women becoming trapped in a cycle of substance and alcohol abuse, that encourages them to engage in behaviors which are dangerous and life threatening.

Man is essentially the same as he ever was. The world around us has changed immeasurably since we took our first hesitant steps as a species – but our hardware, our brains are still the same. It is trying to cope with a modern world, but has never really evolved from the time in which all we had to worry about was gathering food, and running away from danger. Now we’re faced with so many problem, so much choice and so much stress that we often turn to things to help calm ourselves or quell the rising anxiety we feel.

 

PET brain scans show chemical differences in t...

PET brain scans show chemical differences in the brain between addicts and non-addicts. The normal images in the bottom row come from non-addicts; the abnormal images in the top row come from patients with addiction disorders. These PET brain scans show that that addicts have fewer than average dopamine receptors in their brains, so that weaker dopamine signals are sent between cells. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might reach for a drink if you’ve had a stressful day at work, but, if you’re someone who is predisposed to addiction, find that after a certain amount of time, that one drink is not enough and that more is required to get the same feeling. The same goes for illicit substances. Your brain gets into a pattern called a “habit loop” and this, to overcome addiction, needs to be broken.

 

For years, treatments like 12 Step Programs or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy were the gold standard for things like this, with good  results. But nowadays psychologists and doctors want other options to be available to their patients and one tried and tested model that shows promise is Mindfulness.

As an emerging treatment for addiction, this is proven and has shown itself to be a very effective method of helping patients with addiction. It works by actively making the patient think about every step of the craving, the ingestion and the aftermath of taking a substance/smoking or drinking and helps them to try to reprogram the brain to recognize it as something unpleasant which will give them no pleasure at all.

Patients are actively encouraged to “feel” the sensations that a craving gives them, and to work on noticing how they react when they do not give in to the craving – from their they can work on kicking their habit and using other methods of meditation and relaxation to help them cope.

For more info on this topic, see  Is Mindfulness an Emerging Treatment for Addiction?

The Grief Recovery Hanbook Review

 

English: Classics Illustrated Comic Book Cover

English: Classics Illustrated Comic Book Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 4, 2014, will be the one year anniversary of my mom Lucille’s death. There is a similarity between the death and hospital stay, of my mom and Joan Rivers. Both were diagnosed with cardiac arrest, both were in a coma for a week and both moved out of intensive care – after a week. Now the cause for Joan Rivers was something related to the outpatient procedure. For my mom, the cause was acute stomach bleeding. I’m not sure why both cases had only a week in intensive care. Perhaps it was something to do with insurance. In my mom’s case, I did insist on the MRI results, that would show potential brain damage.

According to the medical doctor on ABC News, you have a four to six-minute window, after cardiac arrest sets in.  Otherwise  brain damage would occur.  Which makes me wonder if local police departments are trained in these matters.  When I called for my mom, they sent both an ambulance and a local police officer.  The officer first came up to check the situation.  Then when the paramedics asked what medicines she was taken, I mentioned just over the counter remedies.  The police officer on duty asked me to see the medicines – which I showed him.  Both examples were ticking away precious seconds, in the four to six-minute window.  I’m sure the outpatient clinic for Joan Rivers was better trained in these matters.  Perhaps both Joan Rivers daughter and myself should check legal options?

Now this brings me to a great book entitled The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith Paperback by John W. James (Author), Russell Friedman. After my mom’s death, I had help offers from local hospice grief counselors and the local police department social workers. But instead I worked with local church and retirement home grief recovery groups, in the area. This helped me out a bit. Unfortunately, this book came to my attention just now.

I came across the book from their online grief seminar. I ordered the book through the local library and checked out the reviews on Amazon. It has an average rating of five out of five stars, from about two hundred reviewers. One point the book made is that total recovery might take from two to three years. While I might feel grief after the one year anniversary, most of my grief probably worked itself out within a year. It’s still too soon to tell.

I do like that the book has you create grief timeliness for major events. It also has one of the authors sharing their own grief story, as well as stories from other participants. I can’t comment on their grief groups, as I haven’t attended one. But if you work with hospice grief counselors and groups, as well as church sponsored grief groups, it can probably be a good addition.

The book is a short one – perhaps too short. But it had good things to say. A church my mom and I used to attend, sent me the series Journeying through Grief by Dr.Kenneth C. Haugk.  The four volume free series is about the size of the Grief Recovery Handbook.   Now Grief Recovery is a secular program. There’s another series called Grief Share, which is a faith-based program. But I honestly feel you need both a secular and a faith-based approach – to get a proper balance

In the end, you have to do the work – to work through the grief. I remember my senior year in high school. In a literature class, we had to read The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Back then, they had a comic series called Classics Illustrated and Cliff Notes. I brought and read both, hoping to avoid the reading assignment. But I got hooked by the comic book version and book outline series. It prompted me to read the original book. But I did give the comic book and Cliff Notes to others to use. It turned out you really had to read the book, to answer the test questions. The teacher was smart. There was no short cur. You also have to do the exercises in the grief book – to work through the grief.

US Doctor Salaries and Expat Health Care

 

Traditional Chinese medicine shop in Tsim Sha ...

Traditional Chinese medicine shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As someone mentioned in another country forum: “Go on numbeo.com and just like WAZE it requests interactivity to ensure timely stats on all places – updated regularly. BEST site I know of use it all the time.” I use it all the time. For instance – what is the living costs compared between the capital of Uruguay and capital of Panama.

 

Here’s How Much Money Doctors Actually Make  Now you know that US medical doctors make. Where we are in the upper 30’s by the World Health Organization ratings, is a good motivator for overseas retirement.

In Mexico, one can gain access to the public health care system. They are IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or Mexican Social Security Institute and cost only 300 per year. Many retires have this and private health care, at a fraction of US costs. And if one also has Medicare, one can go to California for treatment. But that’s the rare case that a qualify Mexican hospital couldn’t treat something.

And in Uruguay in South America, I found these interesting titbits:

In Ecuador, they have a state of the art radiation facility. And they actually make house calls outside the US.

Of course, the best health care is offered by these aliens:

Then there is the issue of finding alternative health care. I tried to find out about homeopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Latin American. Nothing came up much when I searched for “homeopathy”, along with the country name. But when I entered Spanish terms, like “homeopatia” or “Farmacia”, along with the country name – it produced results. But words are weird. The world “mala” means bad in Spanish, but it means “suitcase” in Portuguese. I’m not sure the history of that.

Then there are taxes

Most folks don’t realize that many countries tax on all worldwide income. Or they might want you to contribute a percentage to their medical system. This is common in countries like France or Italy. Granted, they are rated number one and two respectively, by the World Health Organization. But you have to contribute seven and one half percent of your income to it. I did find two countries that don’t tax you on world wide income: Panama and Uruguay.

So if you don’t want to pay double taxes – do your homework. Sure, but Panama and Uruguay requires you learn Spanish. But what non-English speaking country doesn’t have a language requirement. And study the books. I’m now reading the second volume entitled The Gringo Guide to Panama II, More to Know Before You GO by Elizabeth Vance.

 

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Expatriates and medical care

 

English: View of Cuenca (Ecuador) from the hil...

English: View of Cuenca (Ecuador) from the hill and village of Turi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got this wonderful article on assisted living facilities in Cuenca, Ecuador. You can read the original here, with pictures: Ecuador . The picture and article is very nice. Contrary to popular opinion, 3rd world countries can have excellent medical care. For example, I go to this Indian fast food restaurant. He said that rich Arabs come to India for medical and hospital care. Since they can come anywhere in the world – including the US and Europe – why India? Some great hospitals and medical care. After all, according to the World Health Organization, we rank in the mid thirties. To see who beat us, see the Business Insider article at Business Insider .

 

We live too fast a pace here. Everything is slower in Latin countries. It’s called Manana time. But it’s all relative. A woman book writer brought this concept up in an Irish pub. A guy there said, “we have no word in Ireland to express this level of urgency.”

 

To Serve Man (The Twilight Zone)

To Serve Man (The Twilight Zone) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But you really need to do the research. Ever see a Twilight Zone episode called To Serve Man? (see Twilight Zone ). Imagine these 9 foot talk travelers came to earth and solved all our scientific and world problems. Then they invite us to visit where they live. Would you go? Not without the proper research – I say. Are there blogs and forum entries from expatriates ? None? Red flag! What does the terrain look like? Google maps can help immensely there. Any finally, have you learned their language? If you have, then a reading of the book “To Serve Man”, can be very educational. If you are going to Latin America, you need to know Spanish. No way around it! Unless you go to Brazil. Then you need to know Portuguese. Fortunately, I will have a good solid foundation in Spanish and a good working knowledge of Portuguese, before I go anywhere. Because of our Latin word origins, about 60 percent of the common vocabulary is common to English, Spanish and Portuguese. You need to just change some English endings.

 

Lastly, we do have a STEP program at STEP , run by the state department. It’s free and all should enroll.

Research is the key ingredient. Recently, I wanted to do a routine car battery check. I went to my local Auto Zone store. They said I needed a new battery. I had them do an alternator check. They said everything was good.

I then went to a couple Advanced Auto Parts store. Both ran tests. I noticed the tests were more comprehensive then those ran at Auto Zone – both for the battery and alternator. The alternator is good and the battery just needed a charging. I lastly went to an O’Reilly auto parts store, for a final battery check. They mentioned the battery was showing fully charged. The moral? Don’t take as gospel the first “professional” opinion – whether medical, contractor, mechanic, etc. Do the research.

Sorry, The Kanamits are inviting me to lunch. The set up a restaurant at a US location called Terminus. It’s my play on a popular AMC TV show, with a bit of Twilight Zone thrown in. Time to go.

 

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How to deal with IT and programming stress

How to deal with IT and programming stress

Cover of

Cover of The Relaxation Response

This week, I came across two interesting topics on stress.  But they involved stress in the IT and programming world.
 In the IT article, the author says this: “This is the number one reason I left. If you’ve never experienced the levels of stress associated with managed service providers, you’re in for a real treat. You have (possibly) hundreds of clients calling in all day to report their computers “aren’t working.” “
And the programming article brings up an important element: “One is something known as the ‘imposter syndrome.’ That’s when you’re pretty sure that all the other coders you work with are smarter, more talented and more skilled than you are.”
But working more hours didn’t bring more productivity.  The programming article mentions this: “Stanford students studied how much time a person can really spend programming productively. In what shouldn’t be a surprise, they found that working too much reduces productivity. Overworked coders tended to produce less high-quality code when working 60 hour/weeks than refreshed people did when working 40-hour weeks.”
How can we cut the stress?  One answer is rather simple.  It comes from a book by ABC news anchor Dan Harris called   Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.  It’s found on Amazon at Follow the breath.
What’s the answer?  It’s actually a simple meditation technique – sit still and follow the breath.  But this is actually a technique followed in the Zen and Insight Meditation Buddhist approaches.
To tell the truth, the book The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson and Miriam Z. Klipper, had a similar technique about twenty-five years ago.  It can be found on Amazon at Relaxation response.  But I think the Harvard Medical school writer does add focus on a simple English phase.

Bottom line?  Take time to relax for a few minutes, with a simple meditation technique.

Programmers

Programmers (Photo credit: Phillie Casablanca)

Sure.  It’s easy to drop out of a high paying job.  One can get a more laid back job – for far less money.  But most come into programming for the intellectual challenge or feeling of satisfaction.  You are accomplishing something most folks can’t do.  I don’t think giving up is the answer.  Nor do I think meditation – in and of itself – will resolve all problems.  I used to program for a living.  I still like to putter about with technology.  The only difference now, is I’m not under the stress and strain schedule.

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