The Amazon Trail
By Lee Lynch
Photo: E. Mulligan
Americans finally have a president who cares. In one of his exit interviews the outgoing incompetent bemoaned the fact that Americans have to worry about their 401Ks and losing their jobs, but, he asserted that those bad old financial institutions are to blame for that. With his nifty house in Texas and a secure retirement he's good to go. At least the dumb cluck didn't get a bonus from the taxpayers. That we know of.
President Obama seems to want to improve the lives of Americans who actually need his help. To accomplish this he's going to have to perform some radical surgery, cutting and gutting where the greed has been strongest, then prescribing some tough therapy: ethical, fiscal and spiritual, if we ever again would like to see ourselves as the greatest democracy on earth.
And I do. Idealism doesn't die as we get older. It may even intensify. Nursing homes and senior centers will never know what hit them when the boomers arrive. Even now, as I face a surgery of my own, I can tell my physician has never dealt with a feminist gay libber environmentalist peacenik with my generations' holistic tendencies and desire to keep our bodies as pure as we can.
The first time I met with the surgeon, I introduced my sweetheart as my domestic partner. He did fine with that and even addressed her occasionally. I told him about my food allergy and explained how it affected my health care. He took notes and, in recording his comments in front of us, addressed the problem. I was impressed. It was like President Obama acknowledging that we have unprecedented economic problems that must be dealt with in unprecedented ways.
Of course I had Googled total knee replacement surgery, a tool patients never had in the past. The surgeon answered my informed questions, telling me the brand of prosthetic, and that he would use one that is gender specific, as I'd hoped. Previously, it was one part fits all, with no acknowledgement of a distinct female physiology. The surgeon also told us that he would be using a cobalt chromium prosthesis. It wouldn't, I asked, contain any nickel, would it?
I recently learned I am allergic to nickel. Researching both nickel and allergies, I learned how prevalent this allergy is. The surgery was postponed. I was appalled that the doctor had no idea what potentially toxic substances he was embedding in his patients' bodies. My sweetheart and I asked each other, could this really be the first time he had dealt with the issue? Was the FDA as lax with medical equipment as it was with processed foods, not requiring complete labeling?
And I asked myself if there was something wrong with me to want to know what he was using to replace my worn out cartilage. Was I being an obnoxious, whiney, oversensitive new age northwestern dyke? Would the physician decide against operating on me because I was being too proactive?
I can only hope that President Obama is as proactive about the body politic, that he does ask the hard questions, does the extensive research, and insists on proper procedures, because toxic substances in our nation - greed, compulsive materialism, taking the easy way out - these can eat away at the infrastructure of democracy as aggressively as an incompatible substance can destroy bone, requiring multiple operations or worse, making an affected limb useless.
Both the need to save our nation after the monstrous attack from within and the bizarre need to insert metal plates into my once limber leg to save my knee are almost inconceivable to me. I am as amazed that oversight and responsible follow up were too much to expect from our bailed-out financial institutions as I am that a life-threatening superbug thrives these days in our hospitals, killing patients. It's documented that banks shored themselves up with taxpayer money instead of, as they were expected to, making loans that would have saved millions of jobs and businesses. At the same time, studies have shown that some medical professionals weren't bothering to perform the simple sanitation chore of washing their hands.
Usually it has been someone else who has gone under the knife, not me or my country. Sometimes I contemplate what the incompetence and criminality of some elected politicians has wrought with the same horror that I have when I think about this medical doctor cutting open my flesh and prying off my knee cap. "Good god," I think with repugnance, "this is real!"
At other times, when I read the paper or see the headlines on my computer, when I must stop as I rise from my desk chair and wait until the pain in my knee subsides, I am humbly grateful for the miracles about to be performed in the years ahead by our new leaders and, this week, by my accomplished surgeon. In the end I will again be proud to be an American and I will walk our land without the physical and spiritual pain of these recent years.
© Lee Lynch 2009
Lee Lynch, Author of Sweet Creek from Bold Strokes Books
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