Healthcare In Germany

I never really knew much about other countries’ healthcare systems until I started to read Fat Acceptance blogs. Later I joined a fibromyalgia support group on LiveJournal, as well as a message board about chronic illnesses in general, and since then I have learned a lot. Being German, I grew up with universal healthcare and automatically assumed that seeing the doctor was free everywhere – because, after all, you didn’t become sick on purpose, right? Haha, yeah. I wonder why they didn’t teach us this stuff in school. I was completely clueless.

Costs aside, there is one other thing that I found rather mind-boggling when I first heard of it: misdiagnoses getting stuck in your medical record forever. I mean, wow. The whole idea that there exists such a thing as a list of everything you’ve ever been diagnosed with creeps me out. Over here, I can just go to a new doctor and practically start from scratch. Sure, my insurance company must be keeping track of me to an extent, but that information is not available to anyone else and certainly doesn’t seem to include diagnoses – er, what I meant was, my diagnoses don’t seem to affect their behaviour towards me. My head, it is disorganised.

Just a few weeks ago I had to send a few documents to a hospital that I’m planning to stay at. My doctor gave me copies of reports from the few specialists that I had seen last year, and to my surprise I discovered that among them was one by a neurologist who hadn’t believed a word I said and got angry with me for “refusing” to take antidepressants when in reality I had merely told him that I’d already tried three different ones and they’d made me manic instead of helping. Needless to say, that report was full of shit. And guess what? I decided not to include it. End of story.

I never really liked my country before I heard of all this. Now I’m pretty glad to have been born here, although I’m worried about where we’re heading. First they introduced co-pay, now more and more hospitals are being privatised. I don’t want anyone whose main interest is making profit to be in charge of my health. No, thanks. I hope we never reach a point where every new doctor I meet knows my entire history already … because I can’t afford to emigrate.

Yes, but …

I want to say something about an argument that I have seen opponents of the Fat Acceptance movement use quite a few times by now, which goes approximately like this:

In order to gain weight, you have to consume more energy than you expend. If you gain weight suddenly although neither your eating habits nor the amount of exercise that you get have changed (for example due to a medical condition or a drug), it therefore follows that your body has either started to expend less energy than before or it has learned to extract more energy from food than it used to. Technically you should be able to stay the same weight by adjusting your habits to these new conditions, but OMGWTF people are stupid and listen to their hunger signals instead (which we assume to be misleading because they’ve been warped by the disease/medication).

Now, in theory that makes sense. Really, it does. The problem is that a lot of people have actually been in that situation, and their experiences cannot be ignored as they provide us with additional information. Remember that theories, as a general rule, need to be put into practice and tested in real life to see if they hold true.

From what I’ve gathered (and yes, I’m basing this on anecdotal evidence, as I am not aware of any research dealing with that particular scenario), what tends to happen is that you either restrict your food intake further and further to no avail, or that you do manage to control your weight – while suffering consequences that are not only unbearable, but cannot be healthy, either.

I’m not talking about missing your former lifestyle or being irritable due to a sudden lack of comfort food. I’m talking about actual adverse side-effects. Burning stomach pain. Fatigue. Dizzy spells. Inability to concentrate. Being cold all the time. Dry skin. Does that sound familiar yet? Yes, it is possible to experience symptoms of starvation without losing weight. How? Why? I wouldn’t know. Since nobody appears to be interested in funding research of that kind, we will just have to accept that we don’t know the answer yet.

Perhaps those drugs and diseases simply cause you to need more energy. Would that be so horrible? Considering that I have taken meds which gave me symptoms of mania, full-body rashes and indigestion, I can’t help but think that it’s one of the most harmless side-effects I have ever heard of.

I Fail At Blogging

So apparently I made a post that basically said something completely untrue or at least left out important facts, and I didn’t even notice that someone had pointed it out until one month later. Gah. Also, I thought I was going to write mostly about health, but instead I find myself talking about that on LiveJournal while this blog has become a strange collection of political opinions and random thoughts. That’s so not what I had in mind.

I wish I had discovered all the issues that I now care about back when I could still THINK. Reading stuff I wrote three years ago almost makes me want to weep because man, where did those writing skills go?

Quality aside, I never thought I’d have so little to write about, either. The reason why I only mention my health on LiveJournal is that nothing ever changes (except when I get worse). I have tried out things that were supposed to make me feel better, but they didn’t. Hardly a good topic for a blog – “So here’s my failed attempt of the month.”

I only wanted a wider audience for what I was already saying, but now I have my audience and nothing left to say.

Which is not to say I’m leaving. But if this keeps up, I can’t promise I won’t. How on earth am I supposed to keep myself from spouting nonsense while I’m not in my right mind (in a brain fog way, not psychotic – I hope) and also completely oblivious of the fact that I’m not in my right mind? That’s like trying to notice the exact moment you forget something. The mere idea makes my brain hurt. So would the most responsible course of action be to simply stop talking?? I am so confused.

Let’s return to the topic of FAT!

Okay, I just realised something. At first I thought the best way to advance Fat Acceptance was to make it known that fat does not equal bad health. Then I changed my mind and decided that since a person’s health is nobody’s business, we shouldn’t focus on that. How about “sustainable weight loss is impossible for nearly everyone” as a mantra? No, that only leads to accusations that we’re all defeatists who have “given up” (yes, even those of us who are thin … somehow).

Perhaps we should spend more time promoting the fact that weight loss is dangerous? Which is, after all, the truth. I know from experience that no matter how often you tell people that anything is none of their business, chances are they won’t listen. But if you tell them that you’re not going to follow their advice (or “advice”) because it is very dangerous? Obviously they can choose not to believe you, as with everything … I do think that this kind of discussion would be less emotionally challenging though.

Which is not to say that I’m giving up on bodily autonomy, of course. I’m just saying I may have found an alternative for those situations where facts are needed. Hey, I need to arm myself …

P.S. I do reply to my comments, but it usually takes me a while!

Hard-working vs. Lazy??

From a comment I just left on a random old blog post that I stumbled upon:

Capitalism rewards the hard-working and punishes the lazy.

No. Capitalism rewards some of each because you do not have to work hard in order to be successful. Sure, it helps. But if you think about it in more detail, capitalism rewards lucky and/or intelligent people (both not something one can become on purpose) and punishes those who:

- are disabled
- are clumsy
- are not that smart
- were abused or neglected as a child
- are mentally ill
- have been misdiagnosed for years
- grew up poor
- had no access to good education as a child
- grew up in a different country
- are unattractive
- etc.

I don’t know why I bothered, seeing as the article was a little silly and naive anyway. But, I guess it was good for something since I just remembered what I’ve been meaning to say for ages:

People with low IQs  need some love, too. Seriously. No matter how much you hear about all other kinds of discrimination, apparently everyone thinks making fun of “stupid” people is okay. I disagree. I thought I was smart (and everybody told me so) until I developed chronic pain and my ability to concentrate dissolved into nothingness. Now I know that intelligence is relative. And in the meantime I have also met many wonderful people who appeared stupid and were really just mentally ill or grew up under the shittiest circumstances. I have learned some of my most important life lessons from someone who believes he is too stupid to learn English.

Most people don’t seem to realise that you can be very bad at expressing yourself and yet have intelligent thoughts. That intelligence shows differently in different people. That being less smart than others does NOT equal being mean, lazy or ignorant. That intelligent people can be ignorant, too.

Judging people on their apparent level of intelligence is no better than judging them on their appearance, as we have little control over both. Am I the only person on earth who thinks that way?! So far I have yet to meet a single one who gets this … but then again, maybe I just can’t express myself well enough. Ha ha.

What Is A “Right”, Anyway?

A bit of random babbling sparked by the sentence, “Healthcare is not a human right, it is a service.” (No source; it has been said by enough people.) My reaction to reading that for the first time was, “I know, sure … and your point is?” I don’t believe humans have a “right” to much of anything, really.

Does a lion have the right to hunt? Yes? … Are you sure? Who decides? If you think about it, to say that a wild animal has a right to anything is ridiculous. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t know nor care. The need for a “right” to hunt does not arise until humans constrain the lion, feel entitled to control it, and realise that it needs to hunt in order to survive – which they then generously permit. Or not.

A right has to be given … if I were the only person on earth, I’d have no rights because there would be no need for any. A right is a tiny hole in the giant net of restrictions placed upon anyone living in a civilised country. It is all a big joke. Here I am, fighting for my “rights” within a system that I don’t even want, in the absence of which those very rights would be meaningless. Social rights are, to me, only a temporary solution – a step in the right direction. What I really wish for is a world where the concept of granting someone access to the things that they need is laughable because access was never taken from them in the first place, and nobody has enough power to grant anyone anything.

I’m beginning to worry that people will start calling me insane anytime soon. To be honest, most of the things I have written on this blog lately surprised even me. They came from somewhere deep inside of me, from a part of my brain that I am not yet familiar with, although on the other hand it also seems more familiar and natural than anything else. It has always been there, but I lost sight of it for a decade or so around the time I became a teenager. As a small child, when I heard that men were expected to open doors for women but not the other way around, I could only think, “But that doesn’t make any sense.” It is amazing how much time and energy society invests in dumbing us down, stripping away that precious ability to look at the state of the world objectively and see the truth that is hiding in plain sight.

Ask any four-year-old if he or she thinks that all sick people deserve to be cured, or if they need to earn the right to it first. Go ahead and ask. But don’t be surprised if the four-year-old then thinks you’re scary for even asking.

Odd Similarities

I’ve noticed lately that whenever I think about parenting, Health At Every Size or politics and economy, I will eventually end up recognising a thought from one of the other topics. I thought it was funny at first because they didn’t seem to have much in common, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that trying to be in tune with my body and the way I’m raising my child (as well as how I was raised) are exactly where my political orientation comes from.

The underlying principle behind my opinions on all of them is No Restriction & No Pressure. I believe that placing any additional restrictions on your child aside from the ones that are necessary to keep them safe will do more harm than good, and that pressure is the wrong way to motivate someone (surely you can see how this applies to HAES as well). I’m always a little worried that people must think I’m too young to know anything about that, but hey – I spent many years of my life being a child myself while my mom worked in daycare. I have not only learned from what she did right and wrong raising me, I also watched her raise three other children when I was already a teenager and I started to read her parenting magazines as soon as I could read, never mind that we talked about her work sometimes. Excuse me for thinking I have gathered some knowledge by now.

What it comes down to is that children are no more than little humans. Most of the things that we know about them will also apply to everyone else. HAES is, in a way, adults learning how to parent themselves … to explore their natural states of being instead of forcing themselves to become someone they aren’t. That’s how I believe we should treat our children, too.

How does all of this tie in with politics and economy now? It is quite simple, really: To have a state equals restriction and to have a market equals pressure. I am firmly convinced that both are useless and dangerous. Sure, there’s not going to be an alternative anytime soon unless the entire world population changes its collective mind very suddenly, but I’m not the kind of person who gives up on things just because they seem unrealistic for now. As long as I can’t change the world, I’ll stick to parenting and body acceptance.

… and blogging.

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