FTDO: A Message of Peace

theheaplogo.jpg picture by jmooser

The Heap presents a special edition of “From The Desk Of” since I really don’t have the chance to write from work anymore. It has gotten extremely busy these days, especially now that it is the end of the year! So I’ll tell the tale from the comfort of home!

I have stories upon stories to tell thanks to the vast array of interesting people my job allows me to help through the county’s patient assistance program. But this ONE story really touched me. I mean, it absolutely makes you appreciate the circumstances I was born into, how fate had it that I was born as an American during a relatively peaceful time, and how one of my patients was born into extreme poverty in what can be considered a third world country. He grew up during a time of political unrest and ultimately bloody revolution. He lives to tell of the atrocities he has experienced.

A lot of my older patients have a hard time understanding the general process of the program we run, and what exactly is needed. Now factor in that he can only speak and understand Spanish, and confusion reaches a whole new level. Both he and his wife are recent immigrants to the US mainland, so despite their age, they are not eligible for the mainstream government programs. Fortunately, they became citizens and are eligible for these other programs directly from the manufacturers of their medication.

Now let’s pause here and think about this. How bad must things be for someone to leave their country at an old age for a land where you don’t know the language and you have absolutely nothing. You are leaving poverty for poverty essentially, and I dare say that living in an impoverished state here in the US might even be worse than that of Cuba. Obviously, it’s not a question of quality of life. While poverty is not the ideal situation to find yourself in, the US has a rich history of community service and outreach programs. Americans are typically very generous.

The problem is that poverty and dependence on the government has such a negative stigma here (and in particular these days as fiscal policy is scrutinized seemingly every hour!). The situation MUST be dire to leave a place where EVERYONE is poor to a place where not only will you be poor, but you might even be looked down upon due to stereotypic generalization. (This is a rant for another day)

My patient takes a medication called Abilify. It helps with depression, but often causes “spaceyness” and forgetfulness. We’ve faced the same problem with the Abilify program for months. They require a state Medicaid denial letter in order to receive beyond the initial shipment of the medication. So of course, we have the task of calling to remind patients that this must be done in 90 days. Needless to say, there are a good number of patients who just don’t cooperate or don’t understand.

Our patient was one that didn’t understand. So he and his wife came to the office to see what could be done. His wife’s medications were simple enough, and we haven’t really had any problems with any of her applications. But for the patient, there were still some medications pending. To make a long story short, I offered to do the Medicaid application for him online.

So we went back to my office, and we just began to talk. My patient preaches a message of world peace. It’s on the top of his prayer list, as he told me. He grew up before and during the Cuba Revolution. He was deemed as a “government asset” and was assigned clerical tasks instead of being forced to be a laborer. Unfortunately, he lost favor with one of his commanding officers and he was forced to join the military, and was given the task of digging graves as well as digging up graves in search of precious metals. It was a period of extreme fear. He would come to work one day only to learn of the government executing a coworker.

He made it through, and somehow was allowed to immigrate into the US with his wife. He was able to bring his daughter and granddaughter over, and they are all able to get by together. They were lucky, and they know it.

This all happened maybe a month or so ago. What compelled me to write about this was that he called me today to with me a Merry Christmas! And again to stress the importance of peace among countries of the world. I was very touched by this.

How can we get to a state of peace here in this world where differences are grounds for war? Is it an attainable goal? It it plausible to even depend on God / religion as a cornerstone for developing peace among peoples? Especially with the issue of “God(s)” being the very issue that many go to war for?

Can society ever become “colorblind”? This is where John Lennon’s “Imagine” makes perfect sense. All possible categories of difference would theoretically have to be eliminated. Anyone have thoughts on this issue? Does religion have to be part of a solution, or would it further hinder the process? Why does the human race place figurative values on a human life according to category?

This Christmas, spread a message of Peace, Joy, and Love.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Redeem Team… and other Olympic Tidbits

olympics

It’s nice to actually be up a decent hour! This means that I can actually watch the Olympics in the living room (since the remote to MY tv is still in Texas). Perhaps the best part of the morning? Hearing the old NBC NBA basketball theme song during the US – Greece game. If you miss it as much as I do (but not so much the NBA itself) you can listen to it by watching this clip from youtube!

The USA basketball team was affectionately dubbed as so by the media prior to today’s basketball game between USA and Greece. All the talk leading up to the game surrounded the victory by the Greeks in the FIBA semifinals against the United States, a 101 – 95 upset. Today’s game had a different outcome, as the US totally dominated for most of the match beating the Greeks comfortably 92 – 69. A much improved defense and noticeable chemistry s probably attributed to the program’s new head coach Mike Krzyzewski, and he means business. He, of course, brings his Duke coaching expertise to the table, and has managed to forge a skilled basketball-playing machine from a conglomerate of professional athletes. Oh, and he has their respect too. The win improves the US to 3-0, and makes the highly anticipated showdown between the US and Spain even more dramatic, as both teams will enter the game with undefeated records. Catch it Saturday morning at 10! (Just your classic Coach K instructional pic… with ‘Melo listening)

K

Men’s soccer disappoints… AGAIN. They didn’t even have to worry about being on European soil! After a narrow escape from Japan in the opening match, the Dutch seemed to have knocked the life out of the US with a goal in stoppage time to force a 2-2 draw. This left the US the manageable task of simply drawing or beating the Nigerians. The US simply could not finish their chances, having plenty of them despite a 3rd minute red card to Michael Orozco, which left them a man down for the rest of the match. This pic definitely captures the spirit of the moment. Very down.

us losers

Women’s soccer moved on to the quarterfinals. No surprise there. We’ll see how they match up against stiffer competition, especially with the absence of Abby Wambach.

Some random notes: Cuba won a gold in Greco-Roman wrestling. The first few matches I saw were pretty boring… just a lot of maintaining the advantage in the defensive position. But of course, leave it to the Russians to kick it up a notch. Badminton is probably the craziest sport I’ve ever seen on TV. The announcers said that strikes of the shuttlecock can exceed 200 miles per hour!?! That’s faster than jai alai! The reflexes required are ridiculous. Currently, its South Korea and Great Britain. Annnnnd James Blake just took the first set from Roger Federer in men’s olympic singles tennis. That’s only Blake’s second set win against Federer out of the 23 they have played against each other. Wowsers.

blake

Edit: Blake “just” (darn tape delay) won the match, 6-4 7-6 (7-3) moving him to the semis! Congrats James!

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