Health Care

I always like these occasional features in the NY Times Sunday Magazine about a mysterious medical diagnosis. This account, though, seemed particularly relevant at a time when the country is debating health care reform. [Spoiler alert] The patient, a sixty-four year old woman who is pretty clearly from the working class, loses her ability to walk because of weakness in her legs: she is suffering from a copper deficiency. It turns out that her dentures don't fit properly and she has been piling on the denture cream, which contains zinc, which reduces the minute amounts of copper needed by the body. At the end of the piece we are informed that, while she "still cannot afford new dentures," she has switched the brand of denture adhesive she uses and is going to physical therapy, though the nerve damage might me irreversable. So: an aging woman's false teeth don't fit and she can't afford new ones -- no insurance, you know -- and as a consequence she unknowingly poisons herself and causes severe nerve damage in her legs. Still, in the end, she's got the same old ill-fitting dentures. No insurance, you know. And the various mouthpieces of the medical-industrial complex and their political defenders are making up shit about a very modest healt care reform proposal creating "death panels" so as to quietly dispose of grandma on the cheap. One would like to ask them what they propose to do for people like the woman in the Times story, since they have such deep concern for the weak and unprotected.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

3 thoughts on “Health Care”

  1. ‘House’ goes political!

    Here in the UK, we’re observing the great health debate with appalled fascination. Our NHS may have its shortcomings, some of them grave, but even our political right would never return to private medicine. May Obama thrive on this one!

  2. I was deep in the Missourah part of Missouri (definitely not Obama country) over the weekend. The waitress who served us at a national breakfast chain hobbled about the place, complaining about needing a new hip but how she didn’t have any health insurance. Several other patrons guffawed about how “that Obama” has a plan to fix that, saying it as though no one could possibly support such an outrageous notion as giving this poor, working woman a chance at a new hip so she could just keep working.

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