I absolutely hate Election Season.
I get uncomfortable when I hear people argue, so reading my Facebook feed or watching any news outlet or even getting on Youtube gives me a sad, tight feeling.
Now, I know that’s awfully “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!!!” of me. It’s not that hearing people call each other names offends my delicate flower-like constitution. I’ve just never understood how you can get so worked up about what someone else thinks. I do have my own opinions, and yes, I sometimes question and judge others because they don’t agree with me. But at the end of the day, I have an opinion, and you have an opinion. I have a vote, and you have a vote. Nice how it works out like that, isn’t it?
Also, some people get energized by talking about how society is wrecked and the economy is circling the drain and this is what’s wrong with America. Props for enjoying it, but I’ve just become increasingly apathetic and jaded since starting med school. It’s depressing, too, that the future of healthcare is such a big-ticket topic these days, and everyone is so eager to give their input on an issue that so intimately involves my everyday life.
I’m not saying I have any insider knowledge about “the healthcare crisis”; I’m woefully uninformed and really can’t speak about policy or how we can fix access problems. All I can say is–I see people every day who don’t have health insurance. Whose chronic diseases have run completely rampant to the point of amputation, etc., because they don’t have a primary care physician, or can’t pay for one, or can’t be bothered to go. Or the patients who do care and are sick anyway and still can’t pay for it. Or kids who get hit by cars and their parents have to turn their entire lives inside out to handle their healthcare. And this isn’t a rant–I’m not blaming the system for failing to cover everyone, or patients for not keeping themselves healthy. It’s just hard when everyone keeps saying “our healthcare system is broken,” and I go into work and see that, yes–if by broken, you mean too damn expensive, unsustainably expensive–it’s freaking broken.
Usually I’m really good at seeing the positive side of things. I’ve even written before about how I always try to do my part in little ways to help a bigger problem. But somehow, here, it feels pointless trying to make tiny differences. The questions here are so big–how do you allocate billions of dollars? Do you deny someone care because they’re 86 and have dementia? Or they have a terminal disease but their family wants everything done? How about if they’re a homeless smoker in respiratory distress? Or if they drank during their pregnancy and now have a disabled baby? Or if they’re in prison for murder?
The stakes are always the same–there’s always someone else who could use the care more. In just a few months of being in the hospital, I’ve already seen several cases where I feel naggingly sure we’re doing too much for a patient when we could be spending time/money/space/personnel elsewhere. And it’s worrying to realize I’m actually thinking those thoughts–that we’re wasting money on a patient, that this person is a waste of our resources, and someone else deserves it more. But that’s why these problems are so big–there are limited resources, and waste happens (oh, it definitely happens).
Sorry if this post is completely defeatist and discombobulated. It’s just been something that’s been frustrating me the past few months, and hearing everyone get fluffed up about the election just made me realized why it’s bugging me: I don’t like seeing people sick, and whose sickness is actually the least of their problems, and it seems impossible to fix, on a large scale. I honestly have no faith that anything will change, no matter who gets elected. I don’t know how it could be possible to start reforming healthcare–I’m no great thinker. My strengths are in the little picture–being nice to people, smiling at them, having empathy. Maybe one day when I’m an attending I’ll try not to order unnecessary MRIs, or I’ll pick the generic drug instead of name-brand.
You see what I mean? It just feels so small.