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Showing posts from August, 2009

From the Patient's Mouth

My friend and colleague Dr. Joe Goldblatt sent me an essay he wrote recently about his experience with National Health Care in Scotland. Below is a condensed version of the essay that I think those of you following the health care reform "debate" in the US might find interesting:

My Dentist and Why I Believe National Health Care Worksby Joe Goldblatt, patientWhen we arrived in Scotland nearly two years ago, we were told to sign up with a local dentist who accepts National Health Service patients. My dentist is a soft-spoken, kind gentleman of 50ish from Mauritius. He has been practicing dentistry for more than 25 years. His dental office is spotless and yet has none of the typical artificial hygienic smells that I normally associate with a busy dental practice.After examining my teeth, he noticed a cavity and suggested that he fill it.When I asked him if he provided local anaesthesia, he smiled warmly and said, “Yes, of course.”Then I asked if it would be alright if I had a w…

Honoring the Peruvian Patroness

Depending on where you live, the feast day for Santa Rosa de Lima is celebrated on August 23 or 30. I like to think of the 23-30 as her feast week. Widely known in South America, she is much less well known in North America. I like thinking of her during this semana de fiesta for many reasons. Santa Rosa was of both Spanish and Inca bloodlines, and one of the causes dearest to her heart was what we think of today as "equal rights" among ethnic groups. She was acutely aware of the treatment of Africans "imported" to South America as slave labor. She set up a small clinic in her family's courtyard to offer herbs and remedies to any who needed them, irrespective of their skin color. This--in the 17th Century--is behavior that challenges the most radical definition of "radical." Much against her parents' wishes, and those of various ardent suitors, she chose not to marry, but instead to live a life of service. For a beautiful woman whose impoveri…

Pero ¿dónde vivo?

Es casi imposible creer lo que veo en las noticias. Una reunión que tiene como propósito ser un foro para hablar sobre las posibilidades de nuevos planes de seguro médico, y aparecen personas con armas de fuego. Hay más de 45.000.000 de personas en este país sin seguro médico. Hecho. Es un problema. Hecho. Hay que hacer algo, ¿no? Y, en este caso el hacer es el hablar. Es una de las cosas que este país solía tener fama por permitir y fomentar, la libertad de hablar--hablar con seguridad, sin miedo y sin amenazas.

Ya es hora de notar un detalle lingúistico.

Cuando hablamos de EEUU, decimos, "Estados Unidos es". No decimos, "Estados Unidos son". Somos uno, un país, un pueblo. Podemos ser y pensar de formas distintas sin perder nuestra unidad. Pero no la podemos mantener apuntando armas los unos a los otros. Por Dios, ¿a dónde se ha ido mi país?

Easily entertained!

Sometimes entertaining moments remind me of a Japanese flower my father once brought home to my sister and me when we were very young. The "flower" appeared to be only a twisted bit of colored paper--until it was dropped into a bowl of water, where it bloomed into its own floating world of petals.

Moment 1: A very tall, big-boned woman walks into a health food store with a list in her hand. She is on a mission. The store manager, an expert herbalist and very gentle spirit, greets her and asks how she can help. The woman replies in a booming voice: "I need yeast flakes. That's what the list says. The flakes are for the rat. My son wants the rat to live a long time. Oh, I see the yeast flakes also have B-6. That must be good." She bought an 10-inch-high canister of yeast flakes and continued on her mission, list in hand.

Moment 2: I am leaving a crowded grocery store, accompanied by a high school student who will load the grocery bags in my car for me. I re…

Beauty in Hardship

Apologies for the long absence from blogging. Unicef has brought me back (with a promise to be, as Larry McMurtry once said, "more regular.")

I learned about Unicef in high school. I bought a Unicef desk calendar, which I kept for many years to continue to look at the wonderful art and wise quotes from around the world on its pages.

One Halloween, my church's youth group went trick-or-treating for Unicef. We split into teams, and each was assigned a different part of our small town to knock on doors and ask for donations. My team was assigned the poorest neighborhood. And to this day, I am glad. I knocked on the doors of those houses with trepidation. How could I ask these people for a donation--they were already struggling. But I asked. And they answered. Not one single family turned us away without making a donation. In some cases, their contributions were as small as 3 pennies, but NO ONE turned us away without making a gift to this wonderful organization that helps ch…