Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Shame on US. Is this how we should do health care?

I was watching 60 Minutes Sunday night and they did a story about Denmark's astoundingly happy people. One of the reasons Danes are so happy is that they never have to worry about their health care, how to pay for college, senior care, it's all paid for by the government. Students even get paid to go to school and there are full maternity and paternity benefits. I know to Republicans this is blasphemy, but look at this article I found today. Do you think this is how people living in the richest country in the world should have to pay for health related costs, like recovery after a debilitating ilness? I say no. We can do better.

Couple battle husband's illness

Life changes fast.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. -- Joan Didion

Life changed for Gregg Glowacz and his wife, Victoria, on July 15, after an afternoon on the Detroit River watching the hydroplane races. After 23 years of marriage, they were full of love and life, a pair of 52-year-olds getting home to the suburbs on a Harley.

And no, life didn't change in an instant because of the motorcycle. Only back at home, safe in their Royal Oak colonial, did the pain begin to mount in Gregg's head, a throbbing pain that took him down, writhing, to the floor. She called 911. His job, as director for ambulatory services at Beaumont, overseeing services at the hospital's satellite offices, was only two weeks old. For a year before that, he'd worked in a similar job at a Chicago hospital, hoping to return to Detroit, thrilled to finally get "a dream job" here.

For seven months now, Gregg Glowacz has been in residence at Beaumont, now as a patient. The headache was a cerebral aneurysm. There was a surgery, and a blissful day or two when he was talking and moving. And then, 48 hours later, two cruel strokes that took away his speech, his motor skills, and, at times, all hope.

Hard, steady progress

"Why did this happen to me?"

That's the question anyone would ask, that Gregg forms without words for his wife. Mentally, he is alert and all there. But it's been two months of hard, steady progress in physical therapy and, then, transfer to a convalescent home (the insurer insisted) and a setback of fever, pneumonia, and physical reversals.

But no one's life has ended. He is still very much alive, alert, struggling to regain the use of his limbs.

Victoria Glowacz -- everyone calls her Vicky -- is a mammogram technician at the hospital. She's blonde and lively -- the kind of woman who spotted her future husband in a hospital corridor and, when he didn't take the hint, asked him out. Now she is determined to keep working with him, to spend "every cent we have on physical therapy, if that's what it takes."

Event will help with costs

Their friends -- and they have many -- are trying to help. Lauret Cwiek, who first met the couple two decades ago, at the Oxford Inn where she still works as a server, e-mailed me and then called, persistently, to say her friends are terrific people whose lives have been upended. She's hustled, along with others, to create an event to help with all the expenses of Gregg's return home. It's Friday, at the Elks Lodge, 1451 E. Big Beaver, from 7 p.m. (Call (248) 689-2500 for more information.)

No comments: