What I Mean When I Say—

HEALTH CARE:  I rarely write about health care.  It is the tag I use to get your attention because that’s what you call it.  America does not have a health care program; it has a sickness care program, which I call “medical care.”  There is a difference between sickness and health, and the eradication of sickness is not the same thing as creating health.

            My doctor prescribed physical therapy.  A licensed physical therapist was running an exercise group at a JCAH-approved rehabilitation center.  The local director of Medicaid said that even if the Commissioner of Health was running the program they wouldn’t pay for it because it was not Medicaid-billable.  If we had a health care program, it would have paid.  Because we do not pay for healthy food and exercise, we become deconditioned and subsequently become more sick more often and at an enormous financial cost.

            I did not participate in any of the discussions about the recent federal legislation for “Health Care”.  It quickly became apparent to me that it was not health care, just a shell game to make more money available to pay for more physicians to prescribe more pharmaceuticals.  If it had been a health care program, it would have included acupuncture, hypnotherapy, vitamins, organic food and paid subscriptions to exercise clubs.

            As long as we continue to focus on sickness, we will continue to be sick; if we start to focus on health then we will become healthy.

 PATIENT:  A person who voluntarily has chosen to seek medical care.

 DOCTOR:  A doctor is any person who has been awarded a doctoral degree at a university.  All sorts of people are doctors—engineers, podiatrists, historians, chiropractors, musicians, and physicians.  In America, we commonly use “doctor” only to refer to physicians.  I sometimes use “doctor” instead of “physician” because it is the way we talk, however I prefer to use physician.  Physicians receive a doctorate in medicine from a university, after which they must become licensed by the state in order to practice medicine.  If they lose their state license to practice, they still hold their academic degrees and are doctors.

            My father was a doctor.  He received a doctorate in education from Temple University.  All physicians are doctors but not all doctors are physicians.

HEALTH:  The state of being physically, mentally and emotionally fit; robust; happy.

DIAGNOSIS:  Figuring out what is wrong with you when you are sick.


MEDICINE:  Chemicals that we used to take when we were sick in order to stop being sick.  Later, called MEDICATIONS.  I don’t know why “medicine” was changed to “medication”—there was no need to fancy it up.  PHARMACEUTICALS are anti-sickness chemicals created in laboratories by pharmaceutical companies.  DRUGS are often preceded by the word “street,” meaning that they are jointly prescribed by you and an unlicensed, informally-educated pharmaceutical sales person who often has no office and therefore transacts business on the street.

            Medicine, drugs, medications and pharmaceuticals are all legal substances, according to the Food and Drug Administration, that are “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease . . . [substances] other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body.”

            According to Miriam-Webster (an old and dear friend of mine) illegal substances cause “addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness.”

            In short, we take stuff to make us feel better, body and soul; some stuff is prescribed by physicians and some is prescribed by ourselves.

            In my book, it’s all drugs.

 DISABILITY:  Any physical or mental condition that significantly limits normal activity and from which there is no reasonable expectation of recovery.

            The woman who got a handicapped sticker for her car because her little toe was amputated was not disabled; she was selfish and lazy.  Cancer, pneumonia and a broken leg are not disabilities; they are acute illnesses.  Chronic conditions which can be drugged back to normal, or which do not interfere with function, e.g., high blood pressure, are not disabilities.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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