Medical Injustice

If you didn’t know, the new health insurance market opened last week as a means to increase access to care amongst the uninsured. If you would like a brief overview of Obamacare, read this previous post. Hopefully the computer glitches will be smoothed out soon and people can be enrolled into health insurance plans.

All politics aside, I am happy as a primary care provider working with the underserved that more people will have access to basic care. Early detection and regular care can potentially prevent the chronic diseases that burden the healthcare system today, e.g., diabetes, heart disease, stroke.

But unfortunately, the scope of the new healthcare reform will not be as vast as previously thought. This was a pretty sad article to read from CNN talking about the gaps in coverage under the new plan. The Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) had the provision that each state has the choice of expanding the programs that would help provide coverage for the poor.

Sadly, half the states have opted out of the program, and hence the uninsured living in those states will not receive any aid in purchasing health insurance. The article estimates there are some seven million working people who make too much to qualify for existing state aid programs, but not enough to receive subsidies under obamacare to purchase insurance.

Millions of people unable to get care that they need. Sad as that is, numbers are just statistics. Maybe a story will be more helpful. Here’s an excerpt from my book:

I was working in the ER one time and this guy came in for abdominal pain. I did the standard history, getting all the gory details. Then I went to do an exam. Heart sounds were good, no murmurs. Lungs, pretty clear. Abdomen feels okay … wait, I feel a mass? Is this stool in his intestines? So I follow it and it’s no stool. It goes down into his pants and there I find that his scrotum is the size of a grapefruit. I hope he didn’t see me go bug-eyed.

I asked him how long he’s had this and he told me four months. Four months? Are you kidding me? I asked him why he didn’t come in earlier. He simply shrugged. I found out later he had a cancer of his testicle and it had spread all the way into his belly.

We might find that story incredulous. Why did he wait that long to come in? You would think if your scrotum was the size of a tennis ball that would raise some red flags…

To give my patient credit, he was uninsured and didn’t have access to regular medical care. If I was faced with a decision to fork up money to see a doctor or put food on the table, I wouldn’t go to the doctor either. That breaks my heart. This is just one small example of the injustices that exist in our medical system…

Worth the Cost?: Becoming a Doctor Without Forfeiting Your Soul

One charge God had against the the Israel nation was that they failed to care for the poor and needy in the land. I can’t imagine God being happy with the state of healthcare, even with the new changes. I’m still wrestling with how the church (and the individual Christian) is to respond to this need, but I do my best using medicine to carry out God’s heart for the poor. If you have thoughts, feel free to share!

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

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Rollerblading to Health!

I got into rollerblading recently and it’s been a lot of fun! I think ever since I watched The Mighty Ducks as a kid I have secretly wanted to play some sort of hockey. But alas, hockey is not one of the typical sports for growing Asian boys. Now I get to live out my childhood dream.

And even better is that rollerblading is actually a good way to work out. According to this article, skating is the number 1 way to burn fat! The author writes:

1. Inline skating Burns 425 calories in 30 minutes

Surprised? While skating might be so much fun you forget you’re actually working out, it’s also numero uno on our list when it comes to blasting fat and calories.

The big burn stems from the side-to-side movement of your thigh and butt muscles (demanding more from your body than the straightforward motion of our number-two activity — running). And your core gets involved in a big way to keep you balanced.

What’s more, you get all these benefits without putting too much stress on your knees and other joints. Skate at a strong, steady pace. Don’t forget your helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads.

Boost the burn: Alternate one minute of hard skating with one minute of medium-paced strokes.

Reid, Su. “The 7 Best Fat-blasters.” CNN. 6 October 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.

It seems like after you hit 30, something turns off and it’s no longer easy to maintain the weight. I blame it on the fall corrupting our natural bodies. (And probably my extra helpings of ice cream play a role, but only a small one.) And even though we await a glorious heavenly body when all things will be made new, we are given a physical body now to carry out God’s kingdom purposes.

Dr. Nick Yphantides, one of my mentors and heros, once said, “Your health, your life is a gift. Honor your God by taking care of it.” Let us be good stewards of all that God has given us, and that includes our health. By the way, if you have tips on rollerblading, let me know!

What are you doing to take care of your body?

 

Training

I know I don’t look it now, and this might take some stretching of the imagination, but I did P90x with my roommate back in medical school. I admit I cheated a little (a lot) with my diet, but I stuck to the workouts for the whole three months. Of course I wanted to be healthier, but a bigger motivation was that I wanted to be able to keep up with the college students on the basketball court. Now that I’m married, I don’t care nearly as much about my basketball prowess (which is fast declining). If I can just keep my BMI in the normal range, that would be good enough for me. It does hurt more than just a little inside when I get my butt kicked by high schoolers.

It’s amazing how much energy and effort we put into our physically bodies that will continue to decay, but give so little thought to training our spirits, which will last for all eternity. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 “Rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” The  NASB actually says “for bodily discipline is only of little profit.” Obviously, as a physician, I think we should take care of our physical bodies. But in the big picture, what happens to my earthly body is of little consequence comapared to the state of my soul.

How is your spiritual health? Are you taking care of your soul, watching what you “eat” and taking the time to “exercise?” We may have the best six-pack and the most amazing calves, but that’s going to mean very little if we are spiritual couch potatoes. Maybe it’s time for a check-up.