…and they say the USA has the best medical system in the world?

My husband’s sick. It’s Sunday evening and clinics are closed and we should probably head out to the ER, but we’re still at home because we’re living in the United States of America and we don’t have health insurance.

We’re having to make decisions based on knowledge we don’t have. Can we afford to wait? Will he make it through the night? Is it worth the many thousands of dollars it would cost for the ER if it turns out to be just the common flu?

This is not the way things should be in one of the wealthiest nations on our planet.

When we were in Nicaragua John slipped and fell and hurt his thumb. We visited the local hospital where he had x-rays and visited with a doctor. We were out of the hospital within thirty minutes and didn’t have to pay a dime.

In Panama my son needed to have his toenail removed in order to dig out a very serious ingrown toenail. The bill came to $15. He had the same procedure done in Colombia by a top-of-the-line specialist for $50.

Over the years we’ve sought medical care in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Egypt, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and others. I was hospitalized for a week in Argentina for pneumonia. As we gallivanted around the world, health care was the last thing on our mind. We knew we would find doctors wherever we went.

And yet now that we are back in our own country, health care is a massive struggle.

Choices are always hard to make, but when it’s a choice that you really don’t think you should have to make it’s even harder.

We are loving living in the USA. It’s a great place with a lot going for it:

  • We’ve got a great little house that’s very comfortable.
  • Our sons are involved in robotics and Boy Scouts, which they love.
  • The boys are taking a few classes through a world-class program through the public schools that we couldn’t find any other place. Our school system has been very supportive of our homeschooling and allowed us to pick and choose classes to make a tailor-made program for our sons.
  • Everything we need is here. We have running water and a flush toilet and a stove to cook on.

Overall, this is the best place in the world for our sons right now. We can’t imagine any other place that would be able to provide them the opportunities they have here.

But that all comes at a cost:

  • We’re paying a lot each month for a high-deductible catastrophic health insurance policy that will only kick in the event of some major accident or illness.
  • Each time we need to see a doctor, we have to consider the seriousness of it and decide if it’s worth the $300 or more to go. And yet we are not qualified to make those decisions.

What I really don’t understand is why we’re having to make these choices. Why should we in the United States of America have to make choices on whether we can afford to visit the doctor?

If our country can afford to destroy the entire country of Iraq, why can’t we afford to take care of our own citizens?

I’ve heard all the arguments for our private insurance system but honestly, none of them make sense. If other, much poorer, countries can provide health care for their citizens, why can’t the USA?

I do take comfort in the fact that we can leave the country. If, at any point, we feel we can’t handle this stress any longer we’ll pack up and leave for another country. But still – why should I need to do that?

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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50 Responses to …and they say the USA has the best medical system in the world?

  1. Jessica March 25, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    I join you in your frustration. We have insurance-that we pay for mightily-because we are self employed. Fortunately, we have good jobs and can technically “afford” to pay for our insurance. But what about those who can’t? Blah! So frustrating!

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      @Jessica, We are making enough being self-employed that we can live comfortably, but we can’t afford to pay for decent insurance that would actually pay for anything. It’s absurd.

    • Ben March 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      Since you make your lifestyle public I read your columns because I have an interest in people who appear to have a leaning or abosolute belief in a socialistic society. But you and I have a very different perspective on healthcare. I have excellent health insurance and am very happy with it. But it’s because I have a JOB and my employer supplements most of the cost of my healthcare. If healthcare in all these other countries is so great, and you don’t want to get a job, then my suggestion would be to move to one of those countries. Or quit complaining about the healthcare in the US. I don’t think it’s fair for you to expect those of us who work to pay additional taxes in order to provide you with free health insurance because you don’t want to get a job. Also, during your recent tour, you took advantage of the generosity of several individuals and families accross many countries. Why don’t you get a job as a teacher again and become a giver as opposed to a taker and give back to society for a change and quit expecting the citizens of the U.S. to provide you with free health coverage? You may already have a job or you may already teach again, and if so, I’m out of place and apologize for my comments. Or if I’m correct with regard to your current employment status, I stick with my comments. Ben Simpson

      • Nancy March 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

        @Ben, Hey Ben! I wrote a long reply to your comment on the other post. You can read it here: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2012/03/debt-the-1-dream-killer/

        I love this part of your comment: Why don’t you get a job as a teacher again and become a giver as opposed to a taker and give back to society for a change and quit expecting the citizens of the U.S. to provide you with free health coverage?

        I guess my question is do we have the responsibility to “give back to society”? What’s the definition of that? For how long do we need to do it? I was a classroom teacher for 21 years (and a Peace Corps Volunteer for two) – is that enough? Did I pay my dues?

        What’s the definition of a “giver as opposed to a taker”? Is a giver someone who works for a corporation? Or can a freelancer be a giver too? Or an artist? How does one decide who’s a giver and who’s a taker?

        Is the definition of a giver exclusively one who works for a corporation? Is it impossible for a self-employed person to be a giver?

        Interesting thoughts for sure.

  2. hyena March 26, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    “They say the USA has the best medical system in the world” – Canadians don’t say that :), growing up in Canada, the one thing that distinguishes us from the US is that we have universal healthcare. If you are a citizen, and you can’t afford $65/month, then it’s free. It’s the one thing that we’re very proud of.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      @hyena, Maybe we should move to Canada… We’ve thought a lot about moving elsewhere so we can get health care and we might end up doing that. For now, we’re trying to stay here because this is the best place for our sons. I hate having to make decisions like this.

    • Lissie May 1, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

      Gotta agree with Hyena – as a New Zealander I’ve never thought that the US health care system was anything but seriously broken, with little chance of being improved anytime soon.

      Like Canada, if you get seriously ill, you get treatment end of story. Hell as an American if you come here on a trip and have an accident – we will pay for your essential care as well.

      • Nancy May 6, 2012 at 1:16 am #

        @Lissie, I think most people outside of the USA understand how bad our system is, but it blows me away that many, MANY Americans truly believe we have the best system. It is true that we have a lot of world-class doctors and amazing machines, but they are off-limits to the vast majority of the population.

        • celeste February 26, 2013 at 4:26 am #

          @Nancy, Nancy, I think our insurance is sold to us a lot like debt….we really don’t know how bad it is until we look outside the box.

          I’ve followed your blog and enjoyed your pictures and thought how awesome that would be to travel like that. I’m not much of a biker, tho…but I really appreciated the pictures and the stories and your experiences.

          You guys never really new what was around the bend….but it was fascinating to see what you did when you got to each town or city.

          My husband and I are lucky and have pretty good insurance but we’ve got jobs…we’re limited to what or where we can go and how long we can stay there because we have to report back for our jobs.

          Don’t get me wrong, I really love my job and my husband does, too! And we’re lucky in that aspect because we know many people that are working because they need the paycheck or the insurance that comes with the paycheck.

          I really applaud you for your gace and tack in dealing with some harsh comments about your beliefs…

          Not once in reading your blog for the last…gez, It’s been at least 5 or 6 years now…have I thought of any of you as being selfish or takers.

          • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 26, 2013 at 9:52 am #

            @celeste, I think some people are so entrenched in the box that they can’t see anything beyond it – and will criticize those who can. We’ve been fortunate to make this life work so far, and I don’t think we are selfish or takers either 🙂

  3. Georgina March 26, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    I have read your blog a few times, but never commented!! I am from the UK but lived in the states for a two years a number of years ago now. When my step mother got ill over there it was cheaper for her to fly home to the uk than get treated for an operation in the US. I don’t understand the debate against not having free health care as its not something we talk about here as our NHS system has been around so long. Anyone with an argument against it should just look around the world at all the functioning public health care. We still have the option to tke out private health insurance and that’s not overly expensive if people wish, but I can’t imagine having to make a guess when to go to the doctor !!!!

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      @Georgina, My husband and I were just talking about flying down to Mexico for care. There is no doubt that we’ll do that if we have time – can’t do that in an emergency though. It’s frustrating living where we can’t access doctors. And the worst part is that we should never be in this situation – the USA is such a wealthy country there is no excuse for this.

  4. Kate March 26, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    I cannot begin to imagine how hard that must be, to make such decisions. Does it apply to children too? I live in England and as you probably know we have a National Health Service, fortunately we are not put in such dilemmas. If one of us is unwell we just go see a doctor or in an emergency go to A&E, no cost involved. We get National Insurance deducted straight from our wages but I think in comparison to your insurance it is minimal. People here complain about our health service but I for one am eternally grateful for it!

    Great website by the way, a true inspiration!

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

      @Kate, Yes, it applies to children too. Fortunately, in Idaho the cut-off income limit for kids to get on the state plan is much higher than for adults so our sons are covered through the state plan. John and I wouldn’t qualify for that plan unless our total monthly income for a family of four was $384 – how could anybody possibly llive on that??

  5. Heather March 26, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Canada has all the pro’s of USA and free health care. The best of both worlds! I can’t see that I’ll ever want to live anywhere else (although I’ll happily visit many other places!)

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

      @Heather, Agreed. Canada is looking better and better 🙂 But really, if we left Idaho, we would go to Mexico or someplace that had an overall lower cost of living AND great health care.

      • Heather March 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

        @Nancy, And a warmer climate no doubt helps that decision… haha!! 🙂

  6. Yvette March 26, 2012 at 7:01 am #


    Hope John feels better soon, and that it’s indeed not serious!

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      @Yvette, Thanks Yvette! I’ve got him on all kinds of natural remedies now and am hoping it takes care of it. I guess time will tell. He does feel a little better today than he did last night, so that’s a good sign.

  7. Jodie March 26, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    We find ourselves in the same boat as my husband does not have health insurance. I am disgusted that our country does not do something more to make sure that it’s citizens are cared for. I hope he feels better soon.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      @Jodie, Our country’s priorities are messed up. We would rather take trillions of dollars to make war with another country than to take care of our own citizens. It’s absurd.

  8. Living Outside of the Box March 26, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    I’ve never heard it from that perspective before: If our country can afford to destroy the entire country of Iraq, why can’t we afford to take care of our own”. Wow. Yeah–seriously. I know exactly what you mean. When we lived in the states, we lived in Alaska in the summers…and health care was SOOO freakin’ expensive. We could count on a routine checkup or child’s cold to cost us $150+. Painful, I tell ‘ya!! I hope your hubby gets over it asap!

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      @Living Outside of the Box, We need to go completely back to the drawing board. Right now, our country is paying enormous amounts of money for things that were priority at some point in the past. There are a lot of governmental agencies and such that we could go without at this point, but we’re locked in. If they went back to a blank slate and said, “These are our priorities and we’ll make sure they happen,” then we could take care of these problems.

  9. Barbara Weibel March 26, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    I’m with you all the way. I do pay for a catastrophic health care policy in the U.S., which increases in cost EVERY year, despite the fact that I have NEVER used it. I get all my medical and dental work done in Thailand. Their facilities are state of the art, sparkling clean, efficient, and cheap. Last year I had an MRI done on my neck. I went in one day for the consultation with a neurologist, had the MRI that evening, and had the follow-up meeting with the same neurologist the next morning. Not only did she give me a verbal review, but she showed me the films on her computer and gave me a DVD with all the images and a written report. The bill came to $290. The same thing would have cost me $4,000 in the U.S. I am thoroughly disgusted by all the political trash-talking about “socialized” medicine and how it doesn’t work in other countries. Most commonly we hear that people have to wait for procedures and when they do get them, they don’t get state-of-the-art treatments. I have a dear friend in England who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year. She was hospitalized on the spot and had surgery a day later. She has received sterling care and recovered entirely. Both she and friends in Canada say that their health care programs had bumps in the road at the beginning, but that they are now functioning smoothly. Health care is the single most important issue in this country in my opinion, over and above jobs, which will right itself as the economy improves. Thank for this post.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

      @Barbara Weibel, Exactly. There is no perfect system, but the US system ranks WAY down on the list!!

  10. Amy March 26, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I hear ya. I am preparing for my career break/bike tour and my biggest concern is health insurance – both cost and coverage. This system is ridiculous. I hope John feels better soon.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

      @Amy, It’s a huge issue and there simply are no answers in the USA. I had a very hard time believing that for a long time – it was inconceivable to me that my government would literally leave me without health care. Sadly, I learned it was true.

  11. Lynda M O March 26, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    You Speak Truth to Power; the insurance industry nets over five billion dollars a year. They won’t relinquish that sum without a fight. Single payer eliminates a large majority of their jobs and lowers the astronomical profit they take home and helps distribute infinitesimal percentages of back into the community.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      @Lynda M O, Yep – you said it. They won’t give it up without a huge fight.

  12. Heather Caliri March 26, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    One thing I dislike about the health care system here is that it discourages people to take risks (like leaving their corporate job to start their own business) because they’ll lose health care–especially if they have a pre-existing condition. Aren’t we supposed to be a nation of entrepreneurs? I don’t know if the health care bill is the best, but I’m hoping it will at least solve that problem.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      @Heather Caliri, Oh man – don’t even get me started on that one! Think of all the entrepreneurs who made this country what it is?

    • Wendy Sewell March 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      @Heather Caliri, Yes!!! I have NEVER understood why this isn’t part of the debate!! Aren’t small businesses supposed to be the backbone of the economy? Maybe that’s why it’s so broken!!! Yes, Canada’s system isn’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean it’s not vastly better than what the US has!

      As Canadians who are now naturalized US citizens, we have lived with both. We had Kaiser and loved it, but now we have Blue Cross/Blue Shield and fighting with insurance companies has become a full time hobby – and we aren’t even sick!!! We’d very happily go back to Canadian health care!

  13. kimba March 26, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    I agree with you and the other comments. This issue makes me really angry. This country is nuts (and not in a good way) when it comes to healthcare and taking care of it’s people. It’s ridiculous that we throw money at killing people in Iraq (choose a country) yet we can’t throw money at our own people to prevent and aid medical issues. I haven’t had healthcare since I was laid off in 2004. Before that I had it intermittently for years. Now, when I really need it, I can’t find work that offers benefits and I fall through every crack that the current systems have. Anyone who thinks we have the best healthcare system in the world has never been out of this country. Unfortunately that’s a majority of Americans.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      @kimba, The trouble is that too many people can’t fathom that an American truly could fall through the cracks. We think our country is better than that – and it should be. Sadly, it’s not.

  14. Nancy March 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    @Jennifer, That’s so true. There are so many good things about the USA and I do love living here. We’ve made some really bad choices when it comes to health care though.

  15. cyclist March 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    The impact on entrepreneurs is a big problem. To be an entrepreneur one should be married to a government employee.

    That said I am talking with people every day who would be better off with less health care and less access to pharmaceuticals which only make them sicker (in particular, psychotropics and opiates).

    I have major medical plan for bankruptcy protection. My reduced access to health care has led me to take charge of my own health and pursue natural remedies. On the whole it has been very positive – when I had the Cadillac plan for state employees I constantly found reasons to see doctors. I experienced major medical mistakes made by MDs and a pharmacy. I got horrendous advice from a nutritionist (16 servings of grains a day which would be deadly for me). I got offers of meds I didn’t need.

    • Nancy March 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      @cyclist, I totally agree with a move to more natural remedies and that’s the direction we are taking as well. Too often MDs treat symptoms rather than problems.

  16. Margaret Fairchild March 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Excellent posts here; however, still can’t get over the audacity of this Ben. He evidently didn’t research you very deeply if he labels you as a “taker”.

    About the US needing to go back to the drawing board and establish what our priorities should be. A noble wish, but an impossible task, I fear. Can you invision our current congress being able to establish a priority list on what we should spend our money on? Think of the chaos that would create! Heck, they can’t even come to an agreement on most bills that are presented!

    My family was one that was pretty much ruined by medical bills. For many years after incurring costs for a baby’s pneumonia when we were “between” insurance coverages we were chronically late with paying bills and robbing peter to pay paul. Various other medical bills beyond the limits or under the deductibles kept us from being able to save for those rainy days. So I’m all for a better health care plan….if I ever move back to the states. For now I’m taking advantage of the lower costs in Mexico. :o)

    • Nancy March 29, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

      @Margaret Fairchild, We may be following you… I think that if everyone got fed up enough, we could go back to the drawing board. But I realize that’s a long shot.

  17. Ellen March 30, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    @ben: I don’t know how old you are, or what you do for a living <> but has it ever occurred to you that this JOB of yours may be tenuous?

    One day you may wake up and find yourself without your JOB
    –perhaps your employer has decided to downsize or outsource to contractors, or maybe they believe that you’ve become too expensive and decide to hire your cheaper replacement, or heaven forbid you may have health problems that make you unemployable–
    and all of a sudden you are without health coverage. Believe me, it has happened to many people, and guess what? Those who are in this situation learn that the Great American Health Care is not so great after all. Oh, it is wonderful for those who are well-insured, of course.

    But when you find yourself outsourced at 55 and/or become a far lower paid contractor for the same employer who now does not have to pay for your insurance,
    when you find that it is all of a sudden much more difficult to find a decent-paying job because of your age,
    when you find that you cannot afford the private insurance that you will now have to pay for yourself, especially if you may have prior health issues,
    your standpoint on health care will change.

    And to tell a long-time teacher to “give back to society” is absolute hubris. I realize it is currently a sport among people with JOBS to bash teachers, but teachers are the ultimate “givers.”

    • Nancy March 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      @Ellen, That is exactly what I was thinking Ellen. He might have a job NOW, but that is no guarantee that he’ll have a job TOMORROW. To criticize someone for choosing a different life than he has seems crazy.

  18. Ellen March 30, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    @ben: I quoted from your post, but the quote did not show up. This is what I quoted: “I have excellent health insurance and am very happy with it. But it’s because I have a JOB and my employer supplements most of the cost of my healthcare.”

  19. Melissa Banigan March 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Once upon a time I had a terrible job in finance (terrible in that I hated the work, the long hours, etc). Then I was laid off. I lost my health insurance. Then I got another job, in education. Back on health insurance, I thought my life was stable… Until the school closed, leaving me once again jobless. Now, freelancing, I am happy. I volunteer at a neighborhood school/literacy program at least two full days a week. I babysit for free. I am able to raise my kid. I make money. I pay taxes. And health care is ridiculously expensive. Ben is terribly naive/uninformed if he thinks that a “JOB” (define this word to me- he seems to think it means one must work for a corporation?) will always be there to provide for an individual. Not true. So. Not. True.

    • Nancy March 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      @Melissa Banigan, No kidding. One must be extremely naive or uninformed if they think a JOB is a lifetime thing any more. Times have changed – we’re no longer living in the 50’s.

  20. Mary Ann April 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Healthcare in the US is expensive for many reasons: 1. the cost of malpractice insurance that doctors have to carry
    2. the USA is very litigious as opposed to other countries. That’s why doctors have to carry so much insurance.
    3. The US has some of the best equipped hospitals and technology which isn’t cheap.
    4. Med school is horrendously expensive so doctors spend a lifetime paying off that debt. This impacts the cost of care.

    Healthcare in Mexico.
    1. The government pays for med school but the doctors sign a contract to work in a specific community after graduation in order to repay their debt. On the up side, doctors may attend medical schools in other countries with many attending Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinics, the Case Western school, etc.
    2, Many of the hospitals are “state of the art” as respects equipment and facilities.
    3, Doctors still make house calls…

    By way of contrast, my doctor in the US who has several years of experience, ordered a procedure for me that some uneducated clerk at Medicare declined to pay stating it was “medically unnecessary”, This is scary that non-medically trained clerks with books can repeal a decision made by a medical professional.

    I am moving to Mexico, not only for better healthcare but for a better quality of life…

    • Nancy April 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      @Mary Ann, I get it Mary Ann, I get it. I’ve been very impressed with health care in most other countries. Anybody who feels the US has the best system doesn’t know what they are talking about.

  21. Jen April 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    It’s all about choices. I absolutely do not want universal health care in the US. I do not want to pay for my neighbors bad health habits and I do not want the government having any say in my healthcare. We are self employed. We pay for our health insurance just in case something major happens but I haven’t seen a regular doctor in over 3 years. Instead, we took the time to LEARN about treating coughs, colds, flus, virus, infections, etc. I take classes from our local herbalist and that’s who we see or just call if we are sick and can’t take care of it ourselves. I pay a pretty penny for the classes and I pay a fair amount for treatment from my herbalist because he deserves to make a living, too. Houses in the US cost a lot more than houses in Mexico.

    You said “We’re having to make decisions based on knowledge we don’t have.” Well then go get the knowledge.

    • Nancy April 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      @Jen, I am totally for a universal health care plan in the US 🙂

      You are right that one of us could go back to school and retrain as a physician, but we don’t feel we should have to. We are both professional teachers and are very good at what we do. We would like doctors to do what they do as well – but we’d like the opportunity to visit them if the need arises.

      It’s about choices at the personal level, but also about choices at the national level. Right now, our government is spending billions and trillions of dollars on wars with other countries. If we, as a nation, decided to stop throwing that money into killing people and put it into our health care instead, can you imagine what a difference that would make?

      • Jen April 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        @Nancy, Now, now, I did not suggest that you go back to school to retrain as a physician. In fact, I have found physicians provide little help when it comes to basic illness. They are taught to prescribe a pill and perform surgery. I’m pointing out that you do have choices in the matter. You can read books and get better educated on how to treat your family and reduce your reliance on the medical system or you can choose alternative healthcare. We do that with everything in our lives, why not our healthcare, too? I can learn to cook or I can go out to eat at every meal. I can grow my own food or I can buy it at a grocery store. I can learn to build a house or I can buy one. I can sew my own clothes or I can buy them. I can send my children to public school or private school or homeschool. If healthcare should be free/universal, why not food and housing and clothing?

        And as far as all that money we could save if we didn’t spend it on war . . . I’d like to see that money used to reduce my taxes and everyone else’s. I’d like to keep more of the money I earn and use it as I see fit, use it in a way that reflects my families values. Imagine what a family could do if they paid less taxes? They could start a business, they could help out their neighbors, they could start a service organization, they could travel more, they could better afford health insurance.

        I have enjoyed the recent posts about taking the education of your children into your own hands. That same philosophy should apply to everything. There is no situation that is choiceless.

        • Nancy April 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

          @Jen, You are absolutely right that it’s great to educate ourselves in all areas. However, sometimes all the alternative care in the world won’t solve the problem. When John had appendicitis last fall, he had no choice but to head to the ER and ended up with surgery. There was no way (as far I’m concerned) that we could have taken that into our own hands.

          When I wrote this post, I feared that my husband had pneumonia. Fortunately, it wasn’t and he recovered just fine, but I had pneumonia a few years ago and there is no doubt in my mind that without massive doses of antibiotics I would have died. So the question became: Is it pneumonia or not? If it is, then we need to get him in so he can get treatment. If it’s not, then he should stay home and recuperate on his own. But really, I would have liked the option of talking with a doctor to find out which one it was.

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