Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Retail Bliss……Or Something

It has been some sort of interesting shopping infested divine interlude for me these past few weeks. I understand that perhaps that doesn’t make much sense. With that, I will branch off into some sort of explanation.

I have lost upwards of 25 pounds since my surgery in September. Losing 25 pounds typically means you have to start replacing clothes as that will bring you down 2 to 3 sizes. I have gone from a 12 to either an 8 or 10(misses), or 11 (in juniors) in pants or shorts. In blouses I’ve gone from a Large to a Medium (in Misses), and from an X-large to a Large in juniors. I have gone down a size in underwear. I have also gone down a size in bras, and I even went down half a shoe size. The only thing that fit was my socks.

Imagine the frenzy (and sadness, and anxiety) involved in replacing an entire wardrobe. Not a few pairs of pants, but also jeans, blouses, underwear, bras, and finally shoes. The clothes I owned were so large on me they looked sloppy, and although I did have some shoes that I could manage in I’ve had to do away with heels for the most part because of my back. This further exacerbated the shoe issue. It is fun to lose weight, yes. There is, however, a certain stress involved when you have limited funds to replace your wardrobe.

I have guiltily, however, been enjoying shopping! I really can’t think of a better reason to blow money on clothes than losing 25 lbs. In fact, I feel a bit entitled to the frenzy. I’ve managed a few pairs of pants, a couple pairs of jeans, a LOT of socks ( I know my old ones still fit, but you don’t understand, this is a retail FRENZY we are talking about!), some panties, a couple of pairs of shoes (brown & black), a bra (just one), many skinny belts, and several fitted curvy blouses.

This past weekend, I was indulging in shorts shopping. The shorts I wore last year were big at a size 14, but not yet sloppy as I was still wearing a 12. This year those shorts won’t even stay on my hips. So I began to look for shorts that will make my somewhat transparent legs look delectable. But everything I tried on in the Misses department was too big! I realized I would need to go down a size…to an 8.

I felt like crying. I was thinking about all those great pants I bought, all a size 10...All those clothes. Will they still fit? ...All that money and all those beautiful wonderful sexy pants. God I hope they still fit. I don’t want to lose more weight.

I ended up deciding that I would shop for shorts in the juniors department, where size 11’s are still comfortably fitting perfect.

The thing is; they don’t sell Dockers in the junior’s department.


Friday, April 11, 2008

What Kind of Health Care Reform Does Bob Olson Support?

Bob Olson would like to see our country with single payer health care, and he has some great ideas to get our country moving in that direction.

P.S. I found this great excerpt on the Blog of the Political Muse.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On Being Rich

The other morning, on the way to work and school, I was having a conversation about politics with my randy little guy Sandis. We were talking about the differing priorities when one is well to do and when one is not so well to do. We talked about the inclination to preserve the funds that one has coming in, and preserve the freedom to do what one chooses with that income. We also talked about something called “social justice” and the health care quandary our nation seems to be in.

This may seem like rather heavy material for a 7 year old, but I find that Sandis’s ability to comprehend the heart of the matter in regards to politics is quite uncanny. So after some conversation, and then some conversation about the differences in theory between the GOP, DFL, and even the GREEN, Sandis had something to say to me.

“All these people have it wrong, though, Mom. Being rich doesn’t mean you are loaded with money. It means you are loaded with love and family all around you.”

So simple.

It is easy to say when you are 7, and all your needs are provided for. He has clothes when he needs clothes, shoes when he needs shoes, a couple of helpers to help him accomplish things he would have trouble accomplishing without, a behavioral therapy programmer, an entire team at school dedicated to helping him succeed, food & medicine without need of conscience in regards to their cost...

This too will pass. This boy will grow up. And while Sandis will always be loaded with the love of those around him, he will learn how it is hard to prosper, flourish, grow, and appreciate ones circumstances when basic needs are ignored and not met.

Being rich is not about money. Sandis is right on about that. Being rich means that society (you & me) cares enough about you (or your children, or your parents) that your very basic human needs are met. Basic human needs that include food, clothes, shelter, medical care, compassion, empathy, and love (and I’m sure a few others.) Some of this we can get from our family members. Other things we must rely, at times, on society to provide should one be unable to provide independently for oneself.

The sum of a nation, of any society, is merely the heights its most vulnerable citizens will reach.

What a unique concept that is: to judge our society not by the richest or most powerful, but on the poorest and least powerful.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Just A Little Something.......On Health Care Reform in MN

HF 3391 & 3390 are health reform bills in the MN House getting a lot of attention from lawmakers lately.

HF 3391 & 3390 concentrate on a few erroneous assumptions. The first erroneous assumption is that preventative care saves money. Would that it were so easy! Studies have actually shown that while preventative care in some instances may save money in the long run, most preventative care actually costs more. (Expert characterization on Feb. 13, 2008, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine: "Although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.")

The second is doctor & patient overutilization. In order to address this, the new legislation proposes an extremely confusing third layer of “managed care.” This would force patients to once again have PCP’s (didn’t we prove managed care didn’t work in the 80’s?) These bills would also require physicians’ to absorb the risk that insurance companies typically do, by paying physicians not fee-for-service but with an annual fee per patient loosely determined by a risk algorithm not yet known.

What does this mean? Hypothetically, your physician would receive $2000 to provide you primary care services for the year. Should your care cost more than this, your physician loses money. Should your care cost less than this, your physician will earn money. This seems to me like an excellent incentive for physicians to avoid chronically ill and underserved populations.

Health care reform is important, but it is also important that we approach health care reform in a way that is not based on popular “myth” but on fact. Senator John Doll’s comparative cost analysis bill, which studies the major reform bills in the Legislature, would help us do just that.

Friday, April 04, 2008

April is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month, and it is a wonder that this year, 18 months after Sandis’s intial diagnosis whereupon I was so afraid…..It is a wonder that this year I am not afraid.

Why am I not afraid? Amidst all these murmurs, perhaps from one parent to the next, about the horrors of autism, why am I not afraid?

Sandis with his joyful heart , precipitous smile, and eager gait is a child with autism. It is hard to be afraid of autism when my boy is such joy.

It isn’t that things are never hard. It isn’t that I never wish things were different. It isn’t that I am not tired, and some days more than others.

Autism, in my child, in my beautiful boy, is the most beautiful parts of him in the most curious presentations. Even his outrages, pure in their simplicity, lend themselves to something that perhaps means more than just anger, but an anger with humanity as it is. An outrage at the box society has trapped him in.

It would sound pretentious to say I am grateful for autism. It would sound perhaps cliché to say that Sandis would cease to be Sandis if his autism were “cured.”

It would sound pretentious and perhaps cliché, but I can’t imagine my beautiful boy in any other way.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Business of Being Busy

I haven’t been blogging much. Which seems fairly odd for me as I have been religiously posting entries on this web site of mine since inception, August 26, 2006. It just doesn’t seem right.

So here is the deal. Some things I can’t blog about. Sometimes things are sensitive enough of a nature, and seeing as how this blog is not intended in any way to be anonymous (try googling Sarah Rittmann) sometimes the sensitive stuff (not in feelings but sensitive as can be offensive to some I know) just wouldn’t be beneficial to post here.

The other part of the deal? I have been excruciatingly busy. In a good way though.

Bob the Babe moved in not long ago. I must say that the time needed to invest in a partner is significant. Add to that the fact that both he and I are learning the whys, how-tos, and all those other things that go into being in a relationship where marriage will soon be our common tie AND sharing a common residence and budget. We have a lot of work to do and we are learning to do it lovingly.

I have been more and more involved with our local DFL. I do have my issues with party politics, as I don’t believe that my personal visions in regards to politics are partisan. But, apparently (and unfortunately), many of them are (and can be spun to seem to be.) I am a neighborhood leader in the DFL (precinct Associate Chair) and I have a large number of people in my precinct that need the benefit of one-on-one conversation about current issues. I live in a working-class neighborhood. The people that own homes in my precinct aren’t typically white collar folk. They are labor union folk who have worked hard for the small homes they have. This population needs a voice and needs to feel acknowledged. I really want to work to help them find it. My precinct also houses a large population of poor and disabled individuals. I can’t wait to share with this population, as I can’t imagine anyone who fits better into that shoe than I.

I volunteered (just last night) to have a house party for one of our local candidates for MN House. Joanne Dorsher needs Democrat support and I’d love to help get her name out there. I was hesitant, if only for a moment, as I live in a townhome complex that is created for people whose income is under 60% of the median income of the area. I wondered, in my mind, how it would be accepted to have a house party for a candidate in a home that is perfect for me (and beautiful in my mind) but can be seen as kind of a local ghetto (alley of the poor.) Soon after I had this thought, I wondered how often candidates have come to my corner of the neighborhood. I wondered if any door-knockers had ever braved our doors. I imagined this candidate coming into my neighborhood, visiting with my neighbors, and I imagined a certain amount of local apathy dissipating. When you are poor, it doesn’t seem that candidates come to you often. What a wonderful opportunity!

In keeping with this busy atmosphere, in a couple of weeks we are going to MAYO with the kids to the DANA child development and learning program. The kids will both be evaluated by a team of doctors and a comprehensive treatment plan will be created for them. I am hopeful to get some good input about both of the kids. We are committed to three days at this clinic, and it will be three days of intense doctor stuff. Which reminds me, I should really start talking to the kids about this “vacation.”

I’ve also been writing a lot of letters. And not just letters, but hand-written letters. While at Partners last week, I learned something about our Senators and Representatives that perhaps I had not known before. Typically, when you write a letter to a Representative or Senator their assistant opens the mail and organizes the mail. Here is the typical organization tactic: hand-written letters on top, typed letters w/ pictures underneath (from constituents), then all other letters. Personally, if I write a letter to my Representative or Senator, I want them to actually read it. So from now on, all letters from me will be hand-written. It takes a little longer, but if it increases how likely the letter is to be read, well…..I’m sure you understand the benefit.

Lastly, this past Monday I had an opportunity to meet with my MN House Representative Steve Gottwalt. Man, was he ever a nice guy! Representative Gottwalt is GOP, which means that often we find reasons to disagree on many issues. This time, though, we had many reasons to agree. There are currently two Democratic Health Reform bills in the MN House (HF 3390 & HF 3391) that I strongly oppose. Rep. Gottwalt also opposes these bills, but for very different reasons. For now, he is my ally. And perhaps, if I keep sending him information, he will soften on the single-payer idea (but I’m not counting on it.)

I’ve certainly been on my toes lately, but I am grateful for every opportunity that has been granted me.