Emails from an expat friend living in USA:
"You mentioned Fraser's problems, and some people think that they have problems in their lives, they need to walk a few klms. in his shoes. Since becoming disabled though I have discovered just how superficial people are, they can't get beyond the disability to get to know who and what you really are, but immediately jump to conclusions based on your appearance and what they perceive you are.
Thought there would be less discrimination in the US particularly with the Americans with the Disability Act, but it is not worth the paper it is written on. What most people forget, is that in an able bodied society for me to work and compete against able bodied people in the employment arena, I still have to be as productive as them, which is physically impossible. Therefore most disabled individuals will always need some form of financial assistance. Unfortunately over here you are now disabled if you are obese! a drug addict, are lazy, don't want to work, don't want to walk when you park your car, and the list goes on..."
"You will love this, had to go to the Dr. MD for a visit to get a script for a new wheelchair, been in the system for 20 yrs now and already had 4 chairs even though I am entitled to a new chair every 5 years. Never go to the Dr. We have the same philosophy stay the hell away from them, last visit 7 years ago for a wheelchair.
Firstly they refused to see me as they claim I have been discharged, due to not having been back so long. So called Med Aid head guy. He tells me, 'They can't refuse you as we pay them every month to keep you on their books. That is Med Aid fraud.' Sudden change of heart, 'Come in for an app. 1 month from now.' Jerking my chain just for a script for a chair.
So jump the hoops, go in for the app, they give me this photocopied piece of paper supposedly a case history, but they are still supposed to have all my records. Jump more hoops!! Hardly any questions pertaining to my injury and physical condition. Eventually I get called in by the nurse. G... comes in with me and by now I am starting to get really pissed off, never mind that I also had an active licence to practise health care in the state. I filled my name in as Dr. ...! So they direct me to a treatment room to sit and wait!! And wait!!
Finally the nurse comes back and starts talking to me as if I am 3 yrs. old. 'We are going to put this cuff on you and check your BP.' Probably checked more BPs in my life than her. 'Now we are going to check your pulse.' I guess she thought I was also brain dead. Pulse by now racing, BP through the roof, so she comments on it, and I know the next comment is, 'We will need to lower your BP. You will have to take these pills.' She asks me, 'What is your complaint?'
I say, 'I don't have, everything is normal, it is because I am in a Dr's office, (white coat syndrome) all I need is a script for a wheel chair.'
She leaves and of course goes and tells this female Dr., who looked like Helga! why I am here to see her. The Dr. walks in with this attitude and says, 'I believe that all you are here for is a script for a wheelchair. You are not interested in your cholesterol, prostate, or anything else.' I'm thinking, 'Nope, you are not sticking your finger up my arse. For one thing I am not getting out of this chair so you can get down there.' So she says, 'So what am I just a script writer now?'
I take exception to that. I just about blew my top, and chewed her ass out. I told her, 'Firstly that is all you are, a script writer!! Otherwise how else are you going to treat me if you don't prescribe some form of medication, so what does that make you? Secondly I am sick and tired of being discriminated against, as if I don't have a brain in my head. How long have you had a licence to practise medicine?' She says, '30 years.' So I said, 'Well that means that I have been practising 2 years longer than you. Furthermore maybe if I died from some medical condition it might put me out of my misery. After spending 33 years in a wheelchair and being discriminated against for the last 33 years how would you feel?'
Her eyes are like saucers now. I said, 'I don't care. I am not taking your poison, for prostate, blood pressure, cholesterol or anything else. If I am going to die I will do so naturally, without making you people rich at the same time. Do you realize how screwed up the health care profession really is?' She looked dumbfounded and agreed with everything I had said. I guess no one had told her off like that before. You know they walk next to God! She says, 'Is that all you want nothing else?' I said, 'Yes, but while you are about writing the SCRIPT!! include a new cushion for me.' She says, 'Anything else?' 'No thanks that's all get me out of here.'
Blood pressure and pulse now normal again, until the next time. I am losing my patience with stupid people. I don't know if it comes with old age or that they have dumbed down the entire US population. You don't have to have genius IQ, but they have zero common sense, if they don't have a set of instructions to do anything, they cannot get it done. If I ever won the Lotto and came into a lot of money I think I would open a school where they actually taught students to think outside the box, never mind following a brainwashing protocol. I am sure you banged heads with many of your colleagues while teaching. [Yes]. I know you having had problems that you have experienced while young do not think the same way most people do today, and now having an auditory disability, you are able to sympathize with other disabled individuals in a way that able bodied people can't and wont appreciate..."
"I forgot to add that I finally got the wheelchair, after seven months, but still haven't got the cushion. The medical supply store claims that I have to have decubitus ulcers before they will pay for the cushion."
Two months later: "Was just reading the blog you posted where I was talking about the wheelchair that took 7 months to arrive, and the cushion that hadn't yet arrived, well guess what it arrived today! Hallelujah! They called the other day to say it was being delivered and I said, 'You are kidding right, I had pretty much given up on the cushion.' The lady said, 'No we are working on it,' so now my arse can sit in comfort."
Coda: I rarely go to doctors, but in 2011 during Christchurch quakes, following audiology tests for my deafness, I went to our Christchurch GP, inquiring about new hearing aids funding. I had a similar experience to my mate above: Our GP took my BP, said my BP was high, sent me for a blood test & said my cholesterol was high. He prescribed a course of drugs to lower my BP & cholesterol. After a couple of months I stopped taking the poisons. Three years later I haven't had a heart attack. Those sorts of GPs rely on voodoo suggestions, fear mongering & wilfull altering of patients' perceptions of themselves, by prescribing-anti BP & anti-cholesterol drugs for the rest of the patient's life. Never mind all the vicious side effects. Of course the GP gets rich on repeat prescription signings & chemists coin it. As for my deafness, the GP told me to enquire about new hearing aids from his wife, who wasn't a medic. She posted me a hearing aid pamphlet. It was the last time I visited that GP.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.