Despite the need that many people have for basic healthcare, United States citizens have been slow to accept the idea of socialized health care. The people believe that it will be a costly system that will lessen the quality of patient care.
When Mitch moved to the United States with his parents in 1990, he had been a victim of socialized medical care. The waiting lists, the prohibitive trips to specialists, and several misdiagnosis’. Mitch has a primary arachnoid cyst on the brain. A large, fluid filled sac which took up the entirety of half of the space in his brain cavity.
I am not sure that if Mitch had stayed in Canada that he would have gotten the treatment that he needed that would relieve him of what must have been torture. Intense pressure, headaches, nausea, throwing up, and vertigo. Mitch had been diagnosed as having only half of a brain. In fact, Mitch had a whole brain that was being squeezed by this cyst. Had it been caught in time, Mitch might have been normal.
Fortunately for Mitch, his mother is a U.S. citizen and was free to move back in order to seek further aid. I am Mitch’ mother, and I did not know what was going on with Mitch, but I had an instinctual knowledge that we needed to go back to the United States.
I loved living in Canada, with the friendly people and the great tasting food, just to name a few. The universal healthcare was just fine for me, my husband, and my healthy children. We had no stress when it came to going to the doctor, and no one looked down on us for being poor, because in that sense we were all equal. It was only when I had Mitch that the true “cost” of socialized medicine became apparent. Even then, I only put passing thought into it, and have only been able to look back on these events with some clarity.
Mitch finally was diagnosed properly in Bismarck, North Dakota by Dr. Matthias, a Neurosurgeon. We were treated to MRI’s, CAT scans and any other technology as needed, and in a speedy manner. Mitch was scheduled for brain surgery immediately, where a shunt was placed to drain the fluid from the cyst into his stomach. The staff at St. Joseph’s hospital were kind and efficient. We had a special insurance for Mitch, and the hospital, of their own free will covered what the insurance would not cover.
The Ronald McDonald house had not been built yet, so we spent three weeks in the hospital. We had the opportunity to visit the Bismarck Ronald McDonald house several times during later visits. One such visit was brain surgery to remove a subdural hematoma, a hemorrhage into the brain.
Afterwards, we went home, where Mitch could heal. I would like to say that everything was wonderful, but Mitch’ life has been difficult. It was too late to save him from the damage. Mitch has seizures, can’t talk, and still has behavioral problems at times. I do believe that he has been relieved of his pain, and that with the help of schools and the DDD (Department of Developmental Disability) that we have carved a life for Mitch that he finds enjoyable.
Most people who know Mitch love him. He is a large man now, but most people consider him a great big Teddy bear. Some people are scared of him because of his size, and the fact that he can have, without warning, behavioral outbursts. I believe that as a child, he was trying to let us know through behaviors that he was in pain and distress. Now, as an adult, if he has pain he will use behaviors to “tell the tale”, for that is the only way he learned to communicate these issues.
I am not against socialized medicine, as long as the kind of thing that happened to Mitch, could not happen to another child. Some professionals believe that if we adopt the same medical system here that we will end up with the long waiting lists, the over worked and underpaid doctors, and a lack of specialized equipment to fulfill these needs. (www.aaps.com a voice for private physicians)
Proponents of socialized health care claim that healthcare should be available to everyone, without reducing the quality, by making it non-profit. Or at least a system where non-profit organizations are available, and for profit can still exist for those who want it.
For Mitch, we are left doing the best we can do. We take care of him, rather than put him in an institution because we love him. It is our responsibility, and I made a vow to be the best parent I could be.
The various people and facilities have helped:
David, Rachel, and Adam my children, who often gave up other life opportunities to help me with Mitch.
Linda, at Wilkinson elementary school, Williston, North Dakota. Linda, the special education teacher worked with Mitch and his behaviors in a professional way. She started him on long road to being “normal”. She helped me, because I could sense she really cared.
Alan, who often took Mitch just to give me a break. He took Mitch to “work” with him, and just to spend time with him. Alan’s whole family came to my aid many times.
All of the schools, and department of disability who assisted me in my education and training, helped to shape Mitch into the young man he is today. Thank you to Julie, Mitch’ DDD worker in Arizona, and to Amy Motor, Mitch’ high school teacher, in St. John’s, Arizona. Thank you to Nancy Schultz Jamestown, DDD.
At this time Mitch goes to the Valley City, North Dakota “Open door center” where the staff is loving, caring, and professional. They have opened their arms to accept Mitch as a co-worker and a friend. Mitch especially loves his friend, Brandon. Mitch has a job of carrying out the garbage, crushing cans, and shredding paper. A big thanks to Teri and all of the wonderful staff at Open door. I can’t do it without you.
I am impressed by the fair and equal treatment that each disabled citizen receives at the “Open Door Center”. The disabled are considered equal in every way, and they are a special group of people I just love to see and greet each day I go to the center to drop off, and pick up Mitch.
Each person, in their own department, have rallied to my support and in doing the best for Mitch that can be done. “Out of the ashes”, as the saying goes “there is hope.” As long as we can remember the unique humanity of each person, it is our hope that our country can devise the best healthcare plan which will consider the needs of each individual involved.
“Where your cyst is depends on what kinds of symptoms you have….once you become systematic your life becomes a living hell. …I am under the conclusion that arachnoid cysts are dangerous to your mental health and general well being because you are always fighting the pain you are in, it makes it difficult to control other aspects of your life, such as communicating.” A quote from the Arachnoid cyst foundation.
Mitch’ cyst made his life a living hell, and has affected those who care for him in profound ways which most, who haven’t experienced it, can only guess.
www.frontline.com “Sick around the world”