“The Healthcare System” by Jana Harris

Jana Harris


What kind of insurance do you have? You’re turning 50, so it’s no surprise that you have backaches. What do you mean it feels like a part of your thigh muscle catches in your hip joint? That would be medically impossible. Would you like me to prescribe painkillers? Would a prescription for muscle relaxers help? Of course you don’t have a cancerous tumor the size of a cue ball in your left kidney. You’re just getting older. What kind of insurance do you have? I recommend a colonoscopy for all of my patients. You’ve got dry-eye; that’s why your eyes are the color of blood—as we age we need to use more eye drops. If you were really having a heart attack we wouldn’t be standing here calmly talking about it. Go home and take a nap. I can’t tell you how many patients come here with a headache, thinking that they’re having a stroke. It’s just stress. Prozac helps. Zoloft eases anxiety. Celexa will lift your mood. You need to drink more fluids. Do you smoke? Do your lymph glands hurt? You need to cut down on your alcohol consumption. I recommend a colonoscopy for all of my patients. When was your last mammogram? Why not schedule them both on the same day. Have you had a flu shot? Did you get a flu shot last year? What about a pap smear? A pneumonia shot? The shingles vaccine? Do you need more painkillers? It could be that you have cancer and don’t know it and that the cancer has metastasized causing these symptoms. You need to see a specialist who will decide what nuclear tests you need, which will decide what surgeon to consult. Here’s the dental treatment plan for that troublesome mouth pain: All these fillings are so old, they’re bound to need replacement, and you can break down the $10,000 into monthly installments. Or we’ll give you 10 percent off if you pay cash at the start, but we have to charge 10 percent more if you use a credit card. What kind of medical insurance do you have? Send me a photo of your surgery and I’ll tell you what I think. That incision will mend in about a month. It takes longer for the redness to rectify. It could take a year for the incision to settle down. Unless it keloids. It could take a year and a half for the scar to blend into the folds in your skin. What do you expect; you’re not getting any younger. If you start getting younger, come back and see me with that complaint. You don’t need to worry about this; it doesn’t look like skin cancer. Call our office if it turns black and shiny or itches. How many times do you fall down in a week? Have you had a bone density test? When did you have your last colonoscopy? Be sure to schedule one before the end of the year. A colonoscopy will tell us if you have a simple case of hemorrhoids. Side effects? Absolutely none. But let us know if you run a high fever, have a life-threatening allergic reaction, or if your arm swells up and turns red; we may decide not to booster that vaccine. We couldn’t see anything in there during your colonoscopy, so we need to go back in and have another look; please schedule an appointment. Did you happen to notice if I put your name and not someone else’s on that prescription? If you would like to speak with a member of our staff, you will have to wait for the next available representative to assist you. Be sure to have your insurance information ready. Thank you for your patience. There are five callers ahead of you. Your call is important to us. If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1.

Poets Respond
May 17, 2016


Jana Harris: “The shortcomings of the American healthcare system is one of my pet topics. When I read this article, the first thing that came to mind was that the powers-that-be in our health care system must be popping acetaminophen like candy, because they have lost all empathy for the people they serve. Their excuses for denying or forgoing care feel endless. In the words of the German poet and dramatist Christian Friedrich Hebbel (1813-1863): ‘Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people’s excuses.'”

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