A recent Facebook post I read yesterday had me lying awake most of the night and wondering what will become of our healthcare as we sail into the future. She wrote that she was upset that not only did she have a very difficult time of obtaining her health records but saw that they had sent only part of hers and also records of a complete stranger. There are other stories I hear all the time (and much worse) that lead me to my own fear of the entire health system here in America. Are we so involved in (money) bureaucracy, (money) laws, and (money) insurance that we have forgotten the 'care' of healthcare? Are there too many of us to be 'covered' by any one branch of the entire system?
I was born inside this house in my grandmother's feather bed. Although mom was in labor with me for 36 hours Dr. T.C. Sutherland did not arrive until just a few hours before I was delivered. He rode up the mountain on a mule and was said to be drunk as a skunk. I was just fine but mom had a rough time of it for awhile. Grandma Julia took care of us both until she was back on her feet.
Mom and all my aunts, uncles and cousins were relatively healthy most of their lives although the nearest hospital or medical facilities were hours from where we lived. When someone got sick granny would go out in the woods and gather weeds and herbs and smash them up to make a salve that got you better in no time. Or a little of her sassafras tea with possibly a shot of whiskey or honey. But if things became dire a country doctor would hitch up a wagon to a mule and take the country roads to your home.
You need a dentist? A string and a doorknob for extractions and same whiskey rubbed on gums for pain usually is all you need. Insurance? Hippa laws and medical records? Our only insurance was grandma and other family members who knew what to do when you got hurt or sick and maybe recorded the event in the family bible.
Now I know that is not ideal. In fact grandma Delmon died at the young age of 63 from prostate cancer. He also suffered from black lung disease as he worked most of his life in the coal mines. Dying at home in the same feather bed I was born in, I am certain that if he had the facilities and the knowledge we have today he would have lived a much longer life.
When someone died they were embalmed and placed in a casket in the home where they lived. Relatives and friends would sit and pray around the casket for several days. Women would bring mounds of food to eat as stories were told and music was played. Maybe this sounds morbid to you but actually was very comforting to behold. And it did not cost upwards to $10,000. Most families set aside spots on their own land as cemeteries and that is where my grandparents rest. Just under the beautiful grove of black walnut trees within walking distance of the house I was born.
Grandma Julia died at 77 from a tumor on her esophagus that was inoperable. By that time (1989) Johnston Memorial Hospital had been built in Abington, one and a half hours from Haysi. She wanted to come home to die and did manage to spend some months in that same feather bed in her home surrounded by all that loved her. But she went into a coma and ended up dying at Johnston when the horror of making a family decision to pull the plug laid her to rest.
This is Sandlick Primitive Baptist Church taken in 1937 where my grandmothers funeral was held in 1989. There have been some renovations and a new wing added but looks just like I remember it. There was standing room only with people spilling out and around the building. One whole wall and the back of the altar was covered 3 deep in flowers especially bright red roses. That was her favorite flower and it is no surprise that the song she requested to be sung at her funeral was Just One Rose Will Do. You can find this song in Spotify sung by the Florida Boys.
I am sure there are people I could talk to that could tell me if my grandparents had any sort of medical insurance or how many times they actually visited doctors much less hospitals. I was curious to find out just when medical insurance was enacted and I found this chart:
I do understand that we have the greatest health care possible here in America and I am grateful for that. I know also that it is the most expensive and without insurance you might as well learn how to set your bones yourself. Even holding some insurance may not get you the kind of care that others would get you if you could afford it.
Forget about restorative dental procedures, certain medicines, eye restorations and body sculpting even with insurance unless you have a LOT of money.
Modern medicine has come a long way but the system for care management has yet to prove itself as a workable solution for all.