Deer Me!

HALvsdeer

It was bound to happen sooner or later, with the abundant amount of deer roaming loose in the Ozarks.  These gals and guys don’t bother to look both ways when crossing a street, I’ve noted, and when you drive a quiet hybrid car, they must tend to think that the headlights are a large lightning bug approaching.

I was driving home one evening, just me and the little dog in her seatbelt-strapped-in carrier, minding my own business, on a winding wooded country road.  We were only going about 40-45 miles per hour, since we’d just turned left at a near 90-degree turn and were gathering up a little speed to head up a hill.  Out of Nowhere – which apparently is my name for the wooded area just at the bottom of the hill on the driver’s side heading home – out of my peripheral vision came barreling toward me the largest un-antlered deer I’ve ever seen. It may have been a small elk for all I know.  At any rate, no time to stop, I realized it was going to hit me. I instinctively swerved as I stomped on the brake pedal, and braced myself as the deer slammed into me.  “I am going into the ditch,” was my thought, and so I held on, steering the car so that the passenger side wheels would not go into the ravine part of the ditch.  I did not want to roll the car. Slowed to a crawl now, I drove forward for a few feet, thinking I might be able to drive out of the ditch, but as I heard the undercarriage of HAL (my Prius) being scraped and smelled a hot car I thought best to stop.  (Yes, I named my Prius after the computer on 2001: A Space Odyssey. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062622/ )

I sat for a moment, reasoning; I can’t drive this car out of this ditch, the ravine is too deep, and I can’t back up because there are large rocks in the ditch that have already scraped the undercarriage.  I looked at the space between my driver’s side door and the road.  I could probably open the door about 5 inches, and I’m no slender girl.  So I unbuckled myself, and my little dog’s carrier, put her in the back seat and crawled over to get out on the passenger side. I looked back down the road and, sure enough, there lay the deer – in the opposite lane of traffic, lying right across it like he/she was taking a nap and hogging the entire lane to him/herself. Along came a fella in a pickup truck who pulled over and got out to make sure I was okay.  I assured him I was fine, but I wasn’t so sure about either my car (I didn’t want to confuse him by referring to HAL) or the poor deer.  He looked back down the road and then offered to go move the deer.  I agreed that would be helpful for others who may be traversing the road that evening.

My Good Samaritan walked down to the deer and was standing near it, to judge – I suppose – how he was going to move this large animal.  Then, surprising both of us, it suddenly sprang up and ran back into the wooded area from whence it came.

The next day my right trapezius started to ache, like I’d lifted something heavy.  By the time I got to the office I considered either seeing if I could get a same-day massage from Infinite Touch Integrative Therapies (https://www.facebook.com/InfiniteTouchLLC/?fref=ts) or get trigger point injections into the shoulder.  But then Rebekah Anglin walked into our office.

 

Rebekah is the Wellness Coach who works out of our office on Thursdays and Fridays.  Her business is multi-faceted, but among other things, Rebekah uses essential oils and does auriculotherapy.  Now, I don’t know the physiology of essential oils, nor homeopathy, nor of acupuncture, reflexology or auriculotherapy.  But I know that if I can avoid leaving the office during a busy scheduled day, and I don’t have to have a needle shoved into my muscles, I am all for trying it.

First she concocted a muscle rub using a couple different essential oils mixed with carrier oil and it was rubbed into the aching muscle.  After about 15-20 minutes, I didn’t really notice the muscle as much.  A couple hours later I lay down on her table and she touched my ears.  Weird, but so cool.  There was one spot on the ear that – as soon as she touched it – I felt a lightning bolt go into my right shoulder.  There was another place that when she touched both ears, I felt an aching in my neck. Then, using a cotton-tipped applicator, she applied essential oil(s?) to those areas.  After asking my feet a couple of questions (don’t ask!), I got off the table and resumed work.  I felt terrific, until about 4:00 that afternoon when the aching in the shoulder resumed.  I took the oil combination she’d given me and rubbed more of it on the spot.  That night, before bed, I rubbed some more on, just for good measure, though I could longer feel the aching.

The next morning, it was as if the accident had never happened.

Now, I’m not about to stop taking Edarbi, which I take for my hypertension.  But if I have any further problems with this right shoulder, I’m making an appointment with Rebekah Anglin.  You can too, simply by calling her at (573)836-1197 or emailing: rebekah.a02@gmail.com.  She not only can work miracles (in my opinion) with essential oils and auriculotherapy, she can help you manage what ails you using nutrition.

I’m betting that deer could use her services!

Repeal and Replace the ACA?

I have been reading a lot lately about the challenges the 115th United States Congress is having with a “Repeal and Replace” strategy for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the PPACA, commonly referred to as the ACA or “Obamacare”) law. Given the new administration’s struggle to even grasp the scope of the ACA, I can only imagine that it’s like climbing Everest or rowing across a small ocean.

Partisanship is the tendency for representatives and senators to vote on legislative measures as dictated by the letter that designates them as (R) or (D). However, I don’t think that party affiliation is the true nature of Congressional difficulties with the ACA, regardless how much their members may protest it. The lines are well-drawn between the aisle on many fundamental issues, and despite the fact that the ACA was the darling of the former President and his party, there can be no denying that it has proven disastrous for middle-class Americans.

I also don’t believe the complexity of the law itself (its rules and regulations written by the Secretary of Health & Human Services with virtual carte blanche control over its content) is the cause of the difficulties – despite containing over 2,000 original bill-signed-into-law pages and its thousands of subsequent pages of regulations. It is very easy to say, “This thing is far more complex than a simple repeal and replace”, and place the blame on the self-imposed vastness of the law.

I have only a few acquaintances who have benefited from the passage of the ACA, based on the fact that they now have “affordable” health insurance. However, most of the people with whom I have come in contact have experienced negative effects, including;

  • Loss of their working policies, as employers were forced to cut coverage
  • Prices that escalated quickly to unaffordable levels, and/or
  • Penalty taxes imposed for being unable to afford an “acceptable” (i.e., federally-approved) policy.

There is very little that is Affordable about the Affordable Care Act. I must also point out that in addition to not being affordable, the ACA is not (as no law could ever be) Care. Care is provided by medical personnel, not by insurance and not by laws. So the only true-to-its-nature aspect of the law’s name is Act. And I believe that therein is where the difficulty arises.

In March of 2015, I traveled to Washington DC to be a part of a Healthcare Coalition composed of practicing physicians of all specialties from across the nation. We came together to design and present to Congress a one-page proposal of “How practicing physicians would ‘fix’ the healthcare system in this country.” It only took us less than one morning to compose the proposal – three hours, tops. Since it is near-impossible to get even two or three physicians to agree on much of anything, that mere three hours it took to gain consensus between the 30 of us in the room is nothing less than miraculous. But the point is this: were able to do in one morning what Congress has failed to do during numerous sessions, across multiple years.

We printed our one-page proposal and set out that same day, to present our historic proposal to Congress via their legislative assistants. Across our two days of meetings, these staffers were – for the most part – kind and silently attentive, offering very few questions. Feeling great and patting ourselves on the backs, we left with high hopes for progress.

Little did we know that – at the same exact moments we gathered around conference tables and in hallways (and even getting kicked out of South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy’s office) – those same elected representatives were quietly and quickly passing MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

Touted by the major physician organizations as the “Doc Fix,” MACRA is the completion of the ACA. It is the How the ACA will complete the Single Payer System that the architects of the ACA envisioned. It is also a tool to force independent physicians and other healthcare providers into the big systems, while driving private insurance companies into oblivion. It’s no wonder the legislative assistants were being so polite and listening so intently. “Let’s keep these doofus physicians who think their opinions matter busy so they don’t find out what our bosses are doing.” Their courtesy was just a smokescsreen.

I came back from our nation’s capital with a single message to my friends, colleagues, patients and family: Washington, DC is not about to give up any control. While they handed over responsibility to the Secretary of HHS to define the language of the ACA and MACRA, the control still lies in Federal hands, and they are NOT going to relinquish willingly that power over their constituents. They are NOT going to put control back in the hands of the individual sovereign States, nor into the hands of the People themselves. They may not even fully understand their own reasoning, but control – once locked in federal hands – is hard to wrench away.

Keep this truth in your mind when you hear of the difficulties they are having on Capitol Hill. If they so willfully disregard an educated recommendation from practicing American physicians to pragmatically shift responsibility and control of patient decisions to the patients themselves, just imagine the derision and contention if they were asked to repeal control of those decisions altogether. Our leaders clearly feel that you and I are not equipped to govern ourselves, much less make big decisions about our own health, safety and wellbeing.