There But for Fortune

One of the sets of words that exemplifies the way I look at life is the lyrics to the song “There But For Fortune” by the late, great Phil Ochs. “There but for fortune go you or I.” Those words tell why I am what a certain group of Republicans like to call a “Socialist.”

I spent two of the last four days in the emergency room with my sick husband, and the emergency room is a good place to see “fortunes” coming and going all day and all night.

My husband and I came to the ER both times with a doctor’s approval, with our laminated health insurance card, and with complete certainty that any care we received would be covered by our insurance company.

During our second visit — actually, one never “visits” the emergency room, one endures it — we  became aware of the “fortune” of the man in the next bed. He was Spanish-speaking, sweet and gentle, and he was told by a kindly nurse and doctor that he had diabetes. He was completely surprised to learn this, and even more surprised to learn that his diet was linked to the disease.

He was given a one-time prescription and told to see his doctor for a follow-up. He said he didn’t have a doctor. So, he was told to go to a clinic, but he said the clinic was unreachable by bus from where he lived. So, he was given an 800 number that he could call to find another clinic.

My husband is going to be okay. We have doctors and specialists who will see to that. The man in the next bed has a one-time prescription and an 800 number. I’m worried about him. I wonder if he  bought a soda from the hospital vending machine before he left. I wonder why the hospital vending machine has soda.

There but for fortune . . . and, there but for “the public option” or — dare I say it — there but for single-payer health care.

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Karen said,

    Health care is one of those things that really brings out the Canadian in me. I’m glad your husband is well, and like you, I sure hope that the poor man in the next bed gets something akin to actual help… but I doubt it.

    Thanks for this post, it is very thought-provoking 🙂

  2. 2

    Hi, Karen. My husband is doing fine, thanks mostly to his wonderful neurologist, who arranged for the procedure he needed, which we then had done with no waiting at the outpatient wing in the hospital. Sounds like VIP treatment compared to what was offered to that man, whom I also will worry about — probably forever.


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