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.

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.

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.

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.

A Word On Politics

This started out as a comment on Big Liberty’s Universal Healthcare and Fat post. When I set up my “About” page a mere seven months ago, I wrote, “I know next to nothing about politics but I’m willing to learn.” Much has changed since then, although I have to say I wasn’t completely clueless, either. It’s just that I tend to research any given topic extensively before I can form an opinion on it, and last fall I did not feel like I had reached that point yet.

I became interested in libertarianism as soon as it started to come up on the fatosphere feed. The general concept sounded good to me – freedom of choice for everyone, little to no government supervision et cetera. However, as I started to read more and more essays by self-proclaimed libertarians (note that I was unaware of there being a difference between American and European definitions of libertarianism at the time), I got the same sinking feeling that I get whenever I pick up a magazine or newspaper: Once again I did NOT appear to be part of the target audience. What do I care about a free market when I can’t work and have never had money of my own? How exactly am I supposed to make any choices if the only opportunity I am given is to survive on what little people like me are “generously” supplied with by either the state or a charity?

I will always be a sick person first, the daughter of a poor single mother second, and only then does Fat Acceptance come in. I am not looking at this from the same perspective as your average fat rights activist, especially since I didn’t grow up as a fat child. I only grew up poor and sick. Googling “libertarianism and disability” I actually found out that here in Europe, the general consensus seems to be that true libertarians must oppose capitalism. How exactly that got twisted around to be almost the opposite in America, I don’t know. This blog came up as one of the first search results, which I found quite amazing because I happen to agree with nearly every single word in that post.

The thing is this, I am tired. Tired of feeling worthless because I never had a chance to finish school. Tired of feeling irresponsible just because I dare to continue existing. Tired of never being part of the target audience.

I propose that we stop providing services only to those who can afford it based on a ridiculous definition of “productivity”. If I were living in America, I would be unable to afford healthcare because I’m sick, which I’m sure you’ll agree makes no sense whatsoever. I would have to be healthy in order to make money, but in order to become healthier I’d need to have money already. Whoever came up with this nonsense needs to be taught a thing or two on logic.

I have decided to officially identify as anarchist now, but I don’t care what you call yourselves – if you agree that capitalism causes harm, I’m on your side.

There are so many wonderful things that we could be doing RIGHT NOW to help each other out, improve our own quality of life, find cures for diseases and solutions for technical problems, reduce stress among the population, prevent crime, save the environment and end world hunger. We have the technology, the knowledge, the resources, the brilliant minds, the people who would be willing to work on those problems, we have everything that is necessary to make this world a better place. So why aren’t we acting already? Because the resources, technology, knowledge and time are only available to those who can pay.

I bet if there is extraterrestrial life somewhere out there, they are laughing at our stupidity right this minute. Even I, sick as I am, would surely find a way to contribute to someone else’s well-being if only I were given the opportunity, but instead I am forced to sit around and do nothing because the financial support I receive from my country helps me survive and not much else.

I don’t get how some people can NOT see this. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. But we exist and we’re not going away anytime soon. I refuse to accept that people like me deserve no better options.

This is probably not the most eloquent post I have ever written, but … oh well. It’s better than staying quiet.

Body Observation

One of the better aspects of fibromyalgia is that it practically forces you to start listening to your body. There is no magical pill that makes the pain go away in all cases, no treatment that works for everyone. Of course this is mainly a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, but it also means that every single patient has to try one thing, see if it helps, then try the next thing, see if it helps … and so on. If you start doing something that makes you feel worse, you have to stop – no matter how many people are telling you that it isn’t supposed to make you feel worse. That’s just the way it is.

If I had to sum up fibromyalgia in a single sentence, it would be “When your body rarely does what one would expect.”

By listening to my body, I suddenly discovered that soda had unpleasant effects on my digestic system, and that I didn’t really like it all that much in the first place. It’s one of those strange things that are extremely hard to explain to people who don’t suffer from a chronic illness and have never heard of Intuitive Eating, either. How can you think you like something when you don’t? Ha. In my case, I started to drink a lot of Coke as soon as I realised that my mother thought I was old enough to take care of myself, and it had moved on from being a “special occasion drink” to something I could have whenever I wanted to. I liked the taste, so why not? Now I know that there are many drinks I would have preferred if I hadn’t been blinded by the “OMG can have this anytime now!” excitement, and if I had realised that it made me feel bad. Intuitive Eating is not as easy as it sounds, really.

Last week or so I noticed something interesting again. You know how people always say that you shouldn’t leave a whole bar of chocolate (or bag of sweets) lying around while you’re watching tv, or else you might accidentally eat all of it although you wanted to save some for later? Been there, done that. However, what I noticed is that this only happens to me when I’m hungry. I eat the chocolate because – shock and horror – I’m actually hungry, and NOT because it’s addictive and evil and I have no self-control. Have you ever felt like eating a whole bar of chocolate right after a satisfying meal? No? See, that’s what I mean.

So here’s some advice for anyone who occasionally ends up feeling nauseous due to an overdose of chocolate: The next time you find yourself grabbing for that bar at curiously small intervals, check if you’re hungry. If so, ask yourself what else you would like to eat. Go and get it, and by all means eat it in front of the tv if you want to. Chances are it’ll taste even better than the chocolate.

OT: Help!

I just wanted to say that my WordPress open ID doesn’t seem to work with Blogger, so I’ve been trying to comment on several blogs in vain. I don’t know what’s going on. It always tells me that I’m not logged in, then I do log in, try again and get an error message. So basically, if you don’t allow name/URL comments, I can’t comment on your blog. 😦