When did you start to rely on the American medical industry for the quality of your life?
For me, it started about a quarter of a century ago when I got glasses. What would our lives have been like without them? When was the last time your glasses got lost or broken and you had to do without them? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “More than 150 million Americans use corrective eyewear to compensate for refractive errors. Americans spend more than $15 billion each year on eyewear.”
And you don’t hear much complaining, do you? We take our glasses for granted; they are a common way of life and we don’t pay much attention to them—but what if you took them off? What would your life be like if you renounced your glasses? I wear trifocals. Without them, I could not read a book, write a blog or watch television. I live alone in a small two-room apartment and my only “visitor” is a home health aide. Without my glasses, how would I live? I could listen to things, but what else could I do? Sit and stare?
If you no longer had glasses, would you be able to work? Would you be able to drive to work? (Would you need nonexistent public transportation?) From the moment you finish reading this blog, be conscious of how far you could go in your normal daily life if glasses ceased to exist. Are you one of the young, healthy people for whom it would make no difference at all? Have you thanked God for that lately?
My second dependency on the medical industry for quality of life is my dentures. The American Dental Association does not report how many people are using dentures but other sites report 20 to 36 million. (According to Wikipedia, the first dentures were animal teeth used by people in Northern Italy hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.) Figure that for every five people with glasses, one also has dentures.
I’ve known people—heck, I have close friends—who can eat just about anything without their dentures. I can’t. I am hypersensitive and my mouth hurts unbearably if I try to eat without my dentures, which means that if I forego the dentures then I will be limited to mashed potatoes, applesauce and oatmeal. The food we ate before we got teeth becomes the food we eat after we lose our teeth. How are you with that? If you remove your dentures then your nutrition will become diminished, not to mention your pleasure in food. Yesterday I ate toast, sausage, spinach and a sandwich, all of which would be off the menu without dentures.
There was an old man with Alzheimer’s disease. His wife, children and grandchildren carried him, bathed him and fed him. Then one day he took out his dentures, put them on the windowsill and turned his face to the wall. Three days later, he died. How long would you feel like living without your dentures? Would you ever take them out and say, “That’s it—I’m done living?”
My third medical appliance is an auto BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure machine) used for the treatment of severe and unstable obstructive sleep apnea. It is estimated that 40% of CPAP/BiPAP users don’t use—that is, they are noncompliant with treatment. (In my experience of other folks, this is because there’s a problem that they don’t know how to address. To get the most useful suggestions for fixing things that I’ve seen in a dozen years of looking, go to http://www.sleepapnea.org/diagnosis-and-treatment/treatment-options/positive-airway-pressure-therapy/when-things-go-wrong-with-pap.html