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Spilled Milk and Skinned Knees

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When death is half a foot from the side of your face

First things first. I have to take notice of the Pittsburgh Steelers record right now. 8-3, yeah you know it! The only two teams in the AFC with records as good as that are the 7-3 New York Jets, and the 10-0 Tennessee Titans. Who just so happen to play each other this coming Sunday.

Okay, that being said, and now that you have been properly educated and have learned the Steelers are the most incredible football team in the history of the NFL, I can continue with what I’ll be sharing with you for the duration of this column. Health.

I’m not a health nut by any means, but I consider myself healthy and I always have. I hardly get sick, I usually feel like I’m in a conditioned state in which running up and down a basketball court a few times doesn’t kill me, and I’m never seriously injured. I’m just shy of 5’10” tall and a month ago I weighed 152 pounds. Which according to the doctors of the Clinical Study program in Tacoma, Washington, is a perfect balance.

Now, if you take a look at the strategically darkened and slightly enlarged letters about 40 words back, I’ll tell you about why I’m writing about health. One month ago today, which is November 20, about a week after my deadline, I was playing a friendly game of football with all the cadddies at the Coeur d’ Alene Resort Golf Course. What was planned as a nice game of flag football suddenly took a turn for the worse when we realized that nobody had brought any actual flags. Tackle it is. Well, we actually decided on the term ‘wrap up’ instead of tackle to make it seem like it was a little more PG-13.

About a half hour into our game, which was about a half hour after our game changed from wrap up to slaughter-fest, I was underthrown by my quarterback and the ball was intercepted. I turned and dove at the defender’s legs. I grabbed his left knee, then noticed incredible pain in my shoulder as he took another step with my hand gripped firmly on his pants. Then, as I hit the ground on my outstrechted arm, another severe amount of pain came swarming into my body which can only be described by one word: death. Yes, my shoulder felt like death.

This death I was feeling was later translated by an MRI as a complete shoulder dislocation, stretched ligaments in my shoulder, and a torn labrum. I’ve dislocated that same shoulder before and have had constant instability with it throughout my career in any sporting event. Usually the pain would go away within a half hour so I continued to play the game, thinking nothing of it. Not to brag or anything but I had a couple more catches, tackles, and a touchdown while playing with my then-unknown life changing injury (makes gesture to brush dirt away from his right shoulder).

The next day I went into work trying to get the day off because I couldn’t grab anything with my left hand. No dice. I had to work anyway and luckily I got to caddie for a former professional baseball player who has had several shoulder surgeries. So he knew what I was going through.

A week went by and the pain was rather persistent and so were my parents. They wanted me to see a doctor. I went to the Urgent Care next to Kootenai Medical Center and I was prescribed some pain pills and given a shoulder immobilizer. Not good enough. Death was still half a foot to the left of my face.

My mom then scheduled me an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon in Sandpoint who then scheduled an MRI, which eventually led to several days and hours of physical therapy and the horrific news that I’ll need surgery on my shoulder or it will never heal. SUPER!! Oh, and not to mention as soon as I walked into the orthopedic surgeon’s office, he told me that having my shoulder immobilized was not good. Thanks Urgent Care, hope that was expensive!

It’s been a month now since I was injured, and if you remember earlier I was telling you about this kid who thought he was healthy. He now weighs 167 pounds; same height, but a little more width. (Video games are not a valid exercise plan.) I haven’t done anything active since that football game so I’m pretty positive that a basketball court would manhandle me right now. I have a sore throat, and I’m extremely hindered when I want to try to make something of my boring, uneventful days. What happened? I never realized how quick your health can escape from you without any warning.

I can’t work right now and I won’t be able to after surgery so what if this happened to somebody less forturnate than me? How would they pay for the $2,500 MRI, or the $400 unhelpful Urgent Care visit with an extra $50 charge for the useless shoulder brace?

Why is this even an issue? Because in some countries, a man less fortunate than myself would be compensated for all of his medical needs because of their health care system. Most Americans are so blinded by the idea that socialism is the anti-christ  they don’t see the things that walk right in front of them. They don’t want to pay for a better health care system, but they would rather pay to bail out the banks and the motor companies instead. Socialized health care is evil, but a socialized plan to fix the ill judgement and wrong decisions of Wall Street executives is dandy?

The bail out is now at the amazing total of 3.8 TRILLION dollars! Not to mention the tiny 25 billion they are offering to General Motors, Ford and Chrystler. But paying more for health care would lead us to communism. Because that’s what socialism did to Russia.

All I’m trying to do is rouse the idea that a socialized form of health care (like our socialized systems for education and military service) is far from a bad idea, and it’s something that most people who probably voted for McCain should take a gander at. Especially since you have no idea when your health might leave you.

Just an idea. If you lived in any of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Japan, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, South Korea, Hungary, Poland, or Slovakia, your taxes wouldn’t be higher to pay for goverment pork barrel spending or new shoes for the CEO of General Motors, but instead for a health care system which allows you to afford the luxury of not worrying about being injured. In those countries, you’re taken care of. Here, you take care of your country. MRI for your shoulder, $2,500. Useless shoulder brace that does nothing, $50. Several trips to physical therapy, $?. Surgery to repair ligaments in your shoulder and a torn labrum, $?. Realizing that you are completely screwed because you don’t have insurance and no way to work or pay for any of this? Priceless.  There’s some things in life money can’t buy; for everything else, there’s Mastercard.

Wait, never mind. Because the banks don’t have any money they’re willing to lend you.

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Dustin Gannon Dustin Gannon says he's a writer because his mama owns a newspaper. At all other times, he's a sportsman, writing both the Sno Biz column, when he's working at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in the wintertime, and Fore! Play, when he's working at the Coeur d'Alene Resort golf course during the summer.

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