Friday, January 30, 2009


Another enormously readable and engaging article by Atul Gawande, a
doctor who writes for The New Yorker. I get a strong impression of
intelligent compassion from his writing. In this article I enjoy the way
he gives an insider's perspective of the U.S. health care industry and
then pulls back to compare and contrast it with the American
transportation network or our national telephone infrastructure. Or a
leaky, pirate ridden hulk, ha.

I was surprised to find myself choked up at his description of how the
British healthcare system has evolved. He sketches the background of the
national health system, starting with the big push just before and
during WWII to meet national health needs (while doing a few other
things at the same time). It was not the switch from an inadequate
private system to a nationalized system that got to me. It was the
matter-of-fact description of the evacuation of the cities before the
war began that made me tear up and is still affecting me. There is
something so parental* in that effort. (* not the first adjective that
comes to mind when I think of what I want in a government.) I mean that
it was a sweeping decision undertaken to safeguard vulnerable people. My
childhood reading the Narnia books probably gives me an extra emotional
tie to the story of the evacuation to the countryside.

I got to the article via, home of fine hypertext products and
a chatty sort of idea smorgasbord hosted by a graphic design geek living
with wife and baby in Manhattan.

It was bitter cold at the beginning of the week. Right now I am looking at blue sky and sunshine and I am grateful. Monday and Tuesday were gray and never left the teens. I was pretty bitter. One evening I was picking up and making kids' lunches and found I was most comfortable in our downstairs rooms wearing my turtleneck, wool sweater and fleece jacket. At least there was no north wind discernable in the living room.

Lexi has a bad cold virus thing and has been home from school since Wednesday afternoon. I have enjoyed my daytime momming today. I sewed her a doll (note to self, this takes three hours) and skipped my shower. Lexi is still pretty puny unfortunately. She's perky enough to enjoy watching tv but gets tired easily and has to wipe her nose fifty times an hour. The fever seems to have receded today. She's napping right now. Get better sweet noodle!


Bee said...

I just read the article on healthcare . . . so it is taking me a little while to get back to you! I know exactly what you mean; he seems intelligent, knowledgeable AND compassionate. Once again, I thank you for pointing me towards more good stuff to read!

Your comments about the WWII evacuation interested me. My MIL grew up in London, and was evacuated (to family in Wales) for about five years during the war. It is an experience that she refers to frequently.

The Brits often complain about the NHS (and everything else), but compared to the nightmare of no healthcare (or bankruptcy due to medical costs) that so many Americans face, it really does seem like a silly bit of whining.

Nimble said...

Does your MIL remember it as being put in the back of beyond with only thin gruel to eat? I know there are some reminiscences along those lines. I use that to temper my feelings of excitement at the scale and drama of the evacuation.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I like everything of his that I've ever read.

My husband's brother and fam. live in Bangor Wales and we get fresh NHS stories from them. They pay a lot for private (don't know if that's the right term) dental care. Being a good American, I would too. Nod's Dad died of colon cancer and so he (Nod -- my pseudonym is now grating on me) was advised to have colonoscopies starting at 40. His brother asked about this with the NHS -- they won't consider it until he's 50. That's a little scary.