Dec 282009

Alpha Geek’s uncle is busy keeping our holiday interesting. Christmas morning he almost set fire to the kitchen.

Let’s back up a little for some background. For the last few years—four? five?—Devant has been the proud papa of a brain tumor. At first it started off small, just a wee malignancy. Eventually it grew up and had to be evicted. Earlier this year Devant underwent a successful surgery to have it removed (under that Canadian health care system that apparently doesn’t work at all).

While the tumor was in residence, it naturally affected Devant’s brain in various ways. He was largely unaware of these effects until it was gone. For example, he developed a degree of paranoia, believing that there were people out to get him.

Little Devant is gone now, and Devant’s brain appears to be functioning normally again (well, as normally as it ever did). However, he still retains the memories of what he thought and perceived while hosting his tumor. They are, to him, perfectly real and valid memories. He still believes that there are people after him, and is now incorporating this belief into things that are happening in his life.

It drives Alpha Geek quietly nuts, because he wants to debate the whole thing logically. Devant is perfectly capable of being logical, within the framework of his perceptions.

To me, logic is like salt. It’s very nice to have around, it adds flavor to things and a certain amount is even necessary. But it doesn’t have to be in everything and too much is bad for you. So I’m perfectly happy to accept Devant’s premise on its own terms, give it mental house room for the purpose of discussion, and then put it away after we’re done.

“There are people after me, you know,” he told me this morning.

“And you decided to stay with us?” I teased him.

“Well, I didn’t know they were after me. But I think they may be following me.” He pondered a moment. “They put a GPS tracking unit in my head, during my surgery,” he added.

“Then they don’t need to follow you, do they?” I pointed out. “They already know where you are.”

He brightened. “That’s true, they won’t be following me, will they?” The prospect seemed to reassure him.

Back to Christmas morning. Devant brought his own special cereal that he likes to have for breakfast, a self-made combination of oatmeal, granola… and plankton. Or as he calls it, “pond scum.” It amuses him that I refer to it as his “pond scum cereal.” He adds a little water and heats it in the microwave for five minutes.

Friday morning his finger must have slipped, so that instead of setting the microwave for five minutes, he set it for fifty.

Devant does not like to be in the room with the microwave when it’s running. Because of the radiation. So he set the microwave for (he thought) five minutes, and then went back downstairs. And fell asleep.

The microwave read 39:14 when I came out to investigate the burning smell and opened the door. Vile smoke billowed forth. The bowl was infused with carbonized pond scum.

We opened all the windows and turned on the house fan, and later showed Devant how to use the “quick minute” button that simply adds a minute to the time every time you press it. That way even if his finger slips it’ll only be one more minute. Last night he spend half an hour or so scrubbing out the microwave until it was even cleaner than when he got here.

And of course we will give him a hard time about it for years to come. Friday afternoon, at Christmas dinner, we moved things away from the candles when he reached for them. We told him he was over his quota for setting things on fire.

  6 Responses to “Smoking Yule”

  1. Not a thing wrong with Canadian *doctors*. I’m sure they’re equally adept as their American counterparts. It’s the *access* to them that’s borked. When my father-in-law was discovered to have a brain tumor, he was under the knife within two weeks. And it would have been within a week, except he was unable to get in there any sooner.

  2. In my experience, and that of family in Canada, medical care is just as accessible to Canadians as it is to Americans with health insurance.

    However, they had their system in place from the get-go, whereas we appear to be trying to cobble together a system based one what’s going to offend everyone the least, which never works.

  3. Yeah. The plans they’re trying to shove down our throats….err…pass are full of epic fail.

    Medical insurance should be more like car insurance. You pay a reasonable premium to cover catastrophic problems. Regular “maintenance” should be cheap and simple to deal with. What will help that part of the equation is massive tort reform – no more multi-million dollar jackpot awards for trivial things that couldn’t be avoided.

    If the doctor is truly negligent, yeah, there should be a sizable compensation. But you and I have read about malpractice lawsuits that should have been laughed out of court, but instead resulted in massive settlements. And that jacks up the cost of malpractice insurance, not to mention that doctors *have* to order a giant-sized battery of tests just to protect themselves from “But you shoulda done such-and-such” when the lawsuits hit. If you have a cold, and the doctor knows you have a cold, whyinthehell is there a need to get (for example) a full blood workup and a strep test???

    Cut down on the perceived need for these tests. Cut down on the ability to file massive lawsuits for trivial crap. Eliminate and automate paperwork, introduce efficiency into the system, add some competition in there…and then an office visit will actually cost what you’re currently paying for deductibles. I’d rather see the trillions being proposed for the medical plan be used for this kind of thing.

    Similar issues with prescription medication. Aside from the liability issues that help make medication far more expensive than it should be, the whole concept of prescriptions is a giant racket, for the most part. I bet 95% of medications currently only available with a prescription don’t have *ANY* valid reason to be controlled in such a way. De-control the vast majority of current prescription medication, and prices will go waaay down. And then your meds will actually cost you about what your current co-pay is – and the drug companies can still make a healthy profit.

    And, yeah. Some of this may sound pretty simplistic. I realize that. But I have seen no evidence that anyone in Congress has even considered any of these thoughts – they just want to build their big damned Rube Goldberg medical plan, and the hell with our great-grandkids.

    • Yeah, that “reasonable premium” is the biggie. If we only had to pay two or three hundred dollars a month for family coverage, it would be do-able–close to twelve hundred a month, though, is a budget-buster.

      But solving the problem requires understanding the cause, and like you said, Congress has no clue. They don’t live in the real world or have to deal with these issues.

  4. I have to lay a substantial portion of the blame for out-of-control medical costs on insurance companies – the ones that provide our insurance, and the ones that provide medical malpractice insurance. They set the “reasonable and customary” price levels the doctors charge, and they have done *nothing* to try to curb the massive jackpots for malpractice claims. They don’t care about it as long as they can keep jacking up the price of coverage so they can keep paying out their lottery winnings.

    A 15 minute office visit, for which you wait 30-45 minutes (even if you show up early) should *NOT* cost $300. And I say 15 minutes – you often only see the doctor for 5 minutes, and you constantly feel like they’re in a hurry to get to that next patient. We’ve all been there – we know what a doctor’s visit is like.

    But, yeah. Our congresscritters have no clue what the real world is like, for the most part. They’re trying to ram this health care boondoggle down our throats, and all it’s going to do is put the .gov firmly in charge of our healthcare, as it drives private insurers out of business over the next few years.

    Here’s a good look at what is very likely going to happen:

    It ain’t a pretty sight. And while it might be a bit alarmist, and it might go as far as depiected, if it goes anywhere in that direction, it’s too far.

  5. In that last line… “might *not* go”

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