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I was thinking about the migraine that’s been sitting behind my left eye all day. It made me remember last year when I had a migraine that lasted 31 days (yes DAYS not hours).

That made me think about Healthcare.

You see, I’d never really thought about healthcare until I needed to get help for my migraines. Real help! The kind where you know that you can’t keep going if you don’t get some assistance. Nothing I was trying was working and I needed a specialist. Plus I was concerned that if I didn’t get better I would lose my job.

I did get better – then I got laid off. It could have been worse.

But while I was suffering through the maze of healthcare and HR I realized that it was the most inefficient system I had ever seen in my life. My friends and former co-workers know that I don’t do well with convoluted systems – and from what I can tell my experiences were mild compared to most – but the system is broken. But fixing it… that is all about change and as much as we may rail about the system, it is our system, we are used to it, and on some level it works.

I don’t think the Healthcare debate is really about Healthcare. I think it is about change – and it is rare for people to embrace change. We may also have used up our ability to handle change after voting in President Obama. That was change on a grand scale – and it took unprecedented visionary leadership – and guts. Guts for all of us to believe that change was possible.

We are the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare. You can read all the stats on who’s covered, who isn’t, all the horror stories of healthcare gone wrong, all the stories of waste and malfeasance. But none of those are going to make you change your mind… because for a lot of us, what we have works for us and we are afraid that by moving to a different system we will have less.

Fear is what keeps us here. Fear of change.

Isn’t the first thing you do when your company changes healthcare providers is check to see if your doctors are on the list? Or when you change jobs? Who wants to change? To walk into the unknown? Even though change is usually… what?

When something changes… how often is the change bad, good, or just more of the same? And the corollary – where do we have to be before we actively pursue change?

I like that… where do we have to be before we actively pursue change?

If it is our health – is it the X year class reunion, when your doctor says you are going to die of a heart attack in 2 years if you don’t, a major milestone of a birthday, or something else. What tips you into changing your behaviors?

If it is the Presidency – did we really have to go into freefall before the country woke up and said “No More!”

If it is your Healthcare – how bad would it have to get or how good would the option have to be to get you to change? And are you looking at this from a personal standpoint or from what is right for the Nation as a whole?

I could quote you more statistics here but as Benjamin Disraeli said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Although 1+1=2 in stats numbers are a lot like words, and words can say whatever you want them too.  

The question is what do you want? If we could find the top three things that defined a vision of Healthcare that spoke to everyone – could we then change? Right now we are bandaging the scrape on the knee when the leg is broken. This is a fix. What we need is a reimagining of the whole system. Something that I’m not sure we are capable of.

Our Founding Fathers did a great job making sure that any changes of a momentous nature to our country were slow. The system, with all its checks and balances and division of powers, is meant to make sure that all aspects of a problem are weighed. I don’t think they ever imagined how huge and convoluted our government would become. All systems do this – they build complexity until they drown in it.

No one can wave a magic wand and make this work and without a clear vision we don’t know where we are going – and that scares us.

It took me two months of daily migraines to get a referral to the Neurologist that finally helped me. Would I have gotten in to see him sooner if the system changed or would I have been left waiting for months? Migraines are rarely life threatening so I’m not so sure where I would be on the importance scale.

The thing is – I’m ready to face the change, even if it causes inconvenience for me in the short term because I believe it is where we have to go. We need everyone to have access to Healthcare – everyone to have access to preventive care – well baby checkup – screenings for breast cancer/colon cancer/diabetes/heart disease – whatever you are at risk for. Then we can catch things early – save money on late stage care – and start providing preventive rather than reactionary care. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Healthcare system was about keeping you healthy rather than just fixing you when you’re broken?    

So yes, I want change. It won’t be easy, it won’t be pain free. Hell, we may go backwards before we go forwards – but where we are will just collapse in on itself costing us more and providing us less.  

 ~ Tess


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Somehow we got on the subjects of Nuns.

Don’t ask me how – I’ve never been religious although I once played a Nun on the stage, in roller-skates no less. But it was interesting that we got onto the subject – for two women, one of which had no religious background (that would be me), we talk religion a great deal.

One of the things we noticed is that we weren’t seeing nuns very often anymore although there is a community of the Sisters of St. Mary near us. So, when I was coming out of the doctor’s office and a nun was walking in I just had to call and say I spotted one. It was kind of like bird watching.

Then, one of my new favorite business gurus, Kenny the Monk, sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times about the new papal administration opening its arms to conservative Anglican Clergy, even if married, while shunning Catholic women and gays.

“With one wave of the Vatican’s almighty hand, Anglicans who don’t like women bishops or gay priests are now welcome in the Catholic Church.  Even their married clergy can come along.”Kenny the Monk

Then in Maureen Dowd’s column yesterday she talked of the Vatican wanting American nuns to embrace more archaic and traditional roles. In Ms. Dowd’s words

“The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the “quality of life” of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence.”Maureen Dowd

It got me thinking.

I keep hoping that one of the most powerful religions will make its way into the 21st century – but all my hope seems to be in vain. There was a glimmer when the Vatican recognized Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution but since then it has been all downhill. The pardoning of a bishop who claimed there were no Nazi gas chambers, continued belief that condoms don’t prevent AIDS, that women should hold only second class status in the church, and still considering sex education, of anything but abstinence, to be immoral. Guess they just threw in Darwin for irony since the church has ceased to evolve.

And just about now you are asking why I care, right? I’m not Catholic, wasn’t schooled by nuns, so why?

Because the Catholic Church could just as easily be a force for change as a force for repression.

Check out the Wiki site – the stats for the US are startling and show the divide between where US Catholics are headed and where the Vatican wants them to be led. As of 2005, there were the following…

 41,406 diocesan and religious-order priests

30,000 lay ministers of which 80% are women

17,000 permanent deacons (men)

63,032 sisters (down from 180,000 in 1965)

5,040 brothers

16 Cardinals

424 Active and retired Bishops  

If you do the math that means that 87,032 women are involved in the upper levels of organization in the Catholic Church as opposed to 69,886 men. What group in their right mind would want to jeopardize their relationship with 56% of their base?

And that doesn’t count all the women who do everything else….

150,000 Catholic school teachers teaching 2.7 million students

What do you want to bet the stats are on that – according to the US census bureau 71% of all teachers in the US are women (2004).

I have a feeling if the women in the Catholic Church actually returned to being “submissive partners” and cultivated their femininity which includes “waiting”, nothing would get done. Women are the backbone of the church and it bothers me that the Vatican is pulling them away from their rightful place as co-owners of the faith.

When you think about it, is it all that different than any other ultra conservative sect that keeps its women without power, education, and rights? And we know the Vatican is wrong…

Data shows that teaching abstinence doesn’t work

That condoms can be used to stop the spread of AIDS

That empowering women – educating them and giving them control of their bodies – is the best thing a developing country can do to move forward. Impacting not only the lives of women, but men and children too.

We are stronger when we are equal – and if the Catholic Church wants to continue to have the support of women and their energy and enthusiasm present in religious life, they need to start listening to them or eventually they won’t have them. At this point I think we have to reverse the statement.

Ask not what you can do for your church, but what your church can do for you.  

If there is a God I’m sure she isn’t amused.

~ Tess

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