November 12, 2009

Sit up straighter

Posted in Between Us column, Health, Spirituality at 6:14 am by dinaheng

I’m sitting up straighter these days. A pinched nerve in my neck has caused some tingling and numbness in the extremities on and off. Since I never want to have neck surgery, I’ve been doing more exercises to strengthen the neck, and to relieve the pressure on the disks between the vertebrae.

A friend of mine showed me how to gently tug on my neck to elongate it, which has helped to stop the tingling sensations.dinah-eng-21

Funny how finely tuned our bodies are to the changes that bombard them every day. If only our spirits had stronger backbones.

Last weekend, the House passed the most significant healthcare bill since the creation of Medicare 44 years ago, which guarantees health coverage to an additional 36 million people by 2019. This plan would leave 4 percent of the nation without coverage, compared to the estimated 17 percent who do not have insurance now, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It’s a victory that falls morally short of insuring every American, but it’s better than continuing to haggle over no change for change’s sake.

Listening to insurance companies, doctors, lawyers and politicians debate over what’s the best way to take care of everyone makes it excruciatingly clear that people still care more about their own pocket books than they do about the health and welfare of fellow human beings.

It’s the same kind of thinking that makes people short change the mental healthcare needs that people who go to war have when they return home. Until an Army psychiatrist allegedly goes on a shooting rampage after learning that he would soon be deployed to Afghanistan.

It would be easy to say, “Poor man was already haunted by the wartime disabilities of soldiers he was treating. Who in their right mind would want to go to war and experience those things firsthand?”

Brave men and women in our military put their lives on the line for the rest of us who stay behind. We should honor their courage. We should also honor the courage of those think war is not an acceptable option.

Should we excuse the U.S. born Muslim of Palestinian descent for his allegedly deadly actions? No. We have no idea yet what motivated the shootings at Ft Hood. Neither should we condemn him without condemning the ethnic taunts he apparently endured from Army colleagues, and the patient workload that would not let up.

We’re not living in healthy times. We’ve all been affected by the rising price of everything and fewer resources to make ends meet. We all wish healthcare were affordable and that war would not plague us.

The question is, are we willing to pay the price to make those wishes come true? When we are, we’ll all sit up straighter.


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