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Last August my husband started having medical issues. Intestinal issues. Sort of. He’s had three operations so far. The last one didn’t work, so he will be having his fourth operation soon. It’s been hard on all of us, although, to quote his doctor, “This is something that’s more a pain in the ass than anything else.” Uh…yeah, you’re not living with it.

I can’t go into all the messy, nasty, painful details because he’s not going to love that I am writing about him in the first place. However, this has been a part of our lives for so long it had to make it to the blog.

This week he will go for an MRI so the doctor knows exactly what he’s dealing with. The operation is next week, we hope. I’m used to the drill by this point. He’ll go to the hospital in the morning. They will give him anesthesia. They will operate for an hour or so. He will spend an hour in recovery. Then I will take him home with a prescription for something that, if we sold them pill by pill, could probably pay for his entire surgery. The same pills that, once he takes them, will stop up his works so he has to take all sorts of laxatives and fiber to reverse the damage. The same pills that, after only taking them for a week the last time, gave him the jitters, kept him awake, and made him feel like crap because his body was already addicted to them. Thank goodness he lives in Organic Land, where his crazy wife tells him not to fall under the spell of the evil Western pharmaceutical companies. But I digress.

Since this process started six months ago, I’ve seen a lot of good, a lot of bad when it comes to modern medicine. The prices for one thing. The bill was the best part. The first operation cost $7,167. JUST for the hospital. NOT counting the doctor’s fees. It cost $992 for the 45 minutes he was in recovery! Except we have insurance, so after the insurance write-offs, the entire operation cost us $1,804. Only. And if we didn’t have that insurance? Take that operation and times it by four. Then add the other $2,500 per operation for the doctor. We’d owe almost $50,000. People, I know everyone is against healthcare reform, but there’s something wrong with that picture.

Back to the medicine. I’ve already covered the aftercare — pain killers that hook you in so quickly you can end up with another problem before you recover from what ails you. And the surgery? Eh. The anesthesia sort of sucks. The first time was fine. The second time they gave my husband too much medication and he was outright sick when he woke up. He was in recovery so long I started getting nervous and demanding to see the doctor. Ooops, we gave him too much, was the answer. Sorry. Or how about the operations? Three times was not a charm. Each time the operation that was supposed to work didn’t. Each time the doctor let my husband make the decision for the less invasive fix even though the more invasive one definitely would have worked the first go-around.

The doctor, all doctors, don’t really DO very much anymore except cut, which leads me to another  aspect of his care — everyone’s care, really — that really pisses me off: The treating the problem without looking at the big picture. Take my husband’s diet. Sure, he eats the organic stuff in our house. But he doesn’t eat any whole grains, no veggies, no dairy other than pizza cheese. No fruit other than orange juice. His food groups are beef (meat sauce), pizza, peanut butter and toast, and Joe’s Os. I am not exaggerating. After the first operation I told the doctor this, and asked if changing diet could help my husband heal. I was hoping he would tell my green-phobic husband to take better care of himself. The doctor didn’t want to give that advice, though. Sure, he said, he should eat good food, but he stopped short of telling my husband to take better care of himself. Just, “Here’s the pain medication. He’s going to need it.”

And that kind of half-assed care can be found all over America and the world. How about one  375-pound guy I know who keeps hurting his knees? His cure to date: surgery and physical therapy. No one has the guts to tell him that his knees wouldn’t get screwed up so much if he lost 200 pounds. Or the diabetic I know who can’t get her wounds to heal, but no one tells her to stop eating so much crap. Or the friend’s kid with ADHD who pounds caffeine and preservatives, watches tons of TV, and never goes to bed? Sure, he would benefit from an organic, all natural diet, and a 7 p.m. bedtime. But the doctors are too afraid to ask the parents to make such a difficult choice. Diet and lifestyle aren’t even on the table. Here, take some Ritalin. Yes, I know that healthy people who never smoke and eat raw foods often drop dead of a heart attack, stroke, cancer, or worse when they are still young. It happens. All the time, actually. But you can’t tell me that what we eat and how we live doesn’t have an affect on how we feel.

[The above language is judgmental and, although I believe doctors are not doing a good job of taking care of people rather than focusing on the problem at hand, I know my husband's problem is not because he won't eat his broccoli. I am just really upset that we are still dealing with this annoying, painful problem that is messing with all our heads.]

Getting back to my hubby: I yelled at him tonight as he was peanut buttering two slices of organic bread. After eating six English muffin pizzas. Where’s your fruits? Where’s your vegetables? He yelled back that he ate all the organic crap in the house, and he did eat healthy. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I’m wrong. At this point, I just want my husband to feel better. But when he does I’m hoping he’s willing to see a nutritionist. It can’t hurt, right?

My husband’s rebuttal: The doctor wanted to do the invasive surgery first. Your husband opted for the less invasive options first so he had less of a chance of PERMANENT INCONTINENCE at 36 years old. You are complaining about cutting but the other “surgeries” were to *avoid* cutting. They were surgical procedures to manipulate the area into healing on its own.

I don’t eat candy, I rarely drink soda, I don’t eat cakes or pastries or ice cream. I don’t eat anything with high fructose corn syrup in it, or hydrogenated oils. I don’t eat enough green vegetables. Oh well. I’m 6 feet tall and have spent almost my entire life under 180 pounds. My blood pressure is 120 over 80 and my bloodwork is always perfect. Clearly, my awful eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle are to blame. And of course my evil doctor with all his right-wing conservative “medical degrees” is the problem. Could never be that I just wound up with a difficult to treat condition out of bad luck.

8 Responses to “East Meets West Meets My Husband’s Butt”

  1. Barb says:

    I could not agree MORE. As DH fights his own weight problems and tries to adhere to Atkins and wonders about me letting our daughter eat tomatoes as much as she pleases (my rule: eat as much fruit and veg as you like, no permission required)–he’s just got the wrong idea. Fruits, veg, whole grains: good plan without much thinking.

  2. susan delg says:

    Amen Karen. We all need to be a little intelligent about what goes into our bodies and what we do with them. We are responsible for not only our choices, but our kids. We can’t do much about our spouses’ choices other than give them the option of good foods. I try like heck to get a balanced diet in my daughter’s life, and struggle to get her enough exercise since she’s prone to her mother’s round-ish body shape. When I took her for her checkup two weeks ago, the doctor looked at me sideways when she saw Joy’s weight/height/bmi. 97%+ across the board. This is the time of year when we struggle to keep active since we can’t play soccer, go bike riding, and are limited to swimming once a week. And so this is the heaviest time of year for her as well. The doctor asked me two questions: is she taking vitamins? (me: no, but I do focus on healthy eating: fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. md: she needs to take vitamins. me: go ahead and write the prescription [which I have conveniently since lost]). Question two: how many snacks do you send her to school with? me: what do you mean? md: [looking at me like I'm stupid] how many snacks does she eat in school? me: um one, if any. most days she doesn’t take anything at all. Not once did she ask Joy a direct question, established no rapport with her whatsoever. She had no idea if Joy could hold a conversation, what she likes to eat, what she likes to do, how much time does she spend reading, etc etc. Very very frustrating, and has left me thinking that I should consider changing pediatricians.

  3. Kristen says:

    great article…i agree 100% about diet and western meds…it took me a long time to see the light…but i am also gettin healthier and gettin my disease under cntrl…maybe u should put a lock on all the unhealthy stuff…sounds like u dnt have too much crap in the house anyway…LOL…or look into alternative medicine…it cant hurt..
    my husband is also eating better cause of me…keep up the good work…
    i kno how u feel firsthand!!

  4. sheri says:

    If you get your husband to a nutritionist I would love to know how. I agree with everything you said in your post. I don’ t think you are being judgemental. I believe our country has forgotten that there is a consequence for every action. Instead many people want what they want when they want it and then are convinced by the drug companies that they can take a pill to reverse their choices. It is easy right, no consequence, just pop a pill. What pills can’t do is rebuild muscle, fix knees, rebuild self-esteem, or give us the happiness that comes from being healthy. But then are these things valued much in our society anymore?

  5. ln says:

    you mention “Or the diabetic I know who can’t get her wounds to heal, but no one tells her to stop eating so much crap.”

    It brought to mind something very important and I think misdiagnosed/underdiagnosed. It’s called Cushing’s Syndrome – you should google it — and/or your friend should look into it.

    Wounds not healing is a classic symptom and Cushing’s is often mistaken for diabetes — a dear friend of mine suffered for 15 years before she got a diagnosis!

    I could be wrong but I want to tell people about this so they don’t suffer like my friend did.

  6. Jeanie says:

    I have to agree with your husband, sorry. I have many family members that are total health/fitness nuts that have many health issues. While eating healthy is the clear choice to avoid many illnesses, it does sound like he is eating pretty well. Cut him a little slack.
    I do agree with you on the 375 pound guy. He may not have many health issues if he lost weight. He is clearly overweight. Unfortunately in our society people are always looking for the easy way out, pills. If you have high cholesterol people put a pill..it is how doctors stay in business….Jeanie

  7. Saw your blog bookmarked on Digg.I love your site and marketing strategy.

  8. Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner.

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