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Thursday, August 9, 2007

A bit of Nostalgia

The other day whilst filling out insurance forms for all of the doctors visits, my mind wandered. It got me to thinking about when we were newlyweds. WHH's parents loaned us money to start our own business, Brooks TV Sales & Service. (If my scanner worked, I'd show you pictures of our little store.) I worked at the bank in the loan department, a job that I loved because I got to know a lot of people in Carlinville. I earned a regular paycheck and had medical insurance for both of us.

I think it was about a year after starting our business, that WHH woke up in the middle of the night in pain. He was hot too, but not in the fun way I like. He was having trouble breathing and when the aspirin wore off, his fever would get dangerously high, and he would become delirious. He went to the doctor, and he ran all sorts of tests on him, but couldn't determine exactly what was wrong with him. He sent him home, but I had to work and worried about him becoming delirious and not able to care for himself. I asked to have him admitted to the local hospital.

He was there for more than a week, and yet the doctor still couldn't come up with a diagnosis. He knew it was some sort of viral infection of his lungs, but not what type. One of his lungs would fill up with fluid in the pleural sac. It was scary for him and terrifying for me. Eventually, I asked to have him transferred to Springfield's Memorial Hospital. Our family doctor was able to get the Chief of Infectious Diseases to take his case.

Springfield is an hour's drive from Carlinville. I would go to work, and then at 3;30 when I got out (it was a great job), I'd drive up to see him. He was worrying about his shop and the TV's that he hadn't repaired because he was sick. I ended up calling a guy with whom he'd worked at his first job as a TV technician (or butt-crack TV repairman, as he says). We'd become friends with Ed and his wife, Pat, and if we had some extra money, we'd drive up to visit them for BBQ's at their house or if somebody had paid cash for a job we'd go to a restaurant with them.

Ed and Pat took me out for dinner a couple of times while Michael was in the hospital in Springfield. It was nice to know that we had friends there. Then, on the weekend, they drove down to Carlinville and Ed repaired the TV's for us. It was such a load off our minds not to have to worry about customers being without their TV. Pat was a nurse at St. John's Hospital in Springfield. Her father was an osteopath. I'd never heard of that and she explained that he was a doctor who healed by manipulating the body. She was into classical music and turned me onto Shostakovich. Both of them were very intelligent and entertaining, and always fun to be with.

After about three and a half weeks in the hospital, Michael was discharged. He was not well, but he was better. We only found out a few weeks after his discharge that the doctor had finally made a diagnosis of histoplasmosis, an air-borne virus (usually carried in pigeon feces). We do not like pigeons EVER. Michael's case had baffled them because his symptoms weren't typical of histoplasmosis. We were told that the doctor wrote up his case in a journal. My WHH is famous! ;0)

We had our business until 1981. We decided to sell our inventory and equipment to another generous TV guy in Girard, Mr. Weller, when WHH was asked to move to Chicago to work directly for the manufacturer as a Technical Advisor. That job description was to take phone calls all day and tell "butt-crack TV repairmen" how to fix problem sets.

Back then, there were no internets and email. Only long-distance (which we couldn't afford) and the U.S. Post Office. We eventually lost touch with Ed and Pat. We've moved so many times after that it'd be tough for anyone to keep up with us.

After all of this reminiscing, I Googled Ed. Their last name is unusual, if any Eds turned up, it'd most likely be him. The second listing had their names. I found them! I clicked on the "American Girl" link and soon realized that it was not going to be one of those cases where we could reconnect with old friends.

Sadly, Pat died last year after a long battle against breast cancer. I'm shocked and very sad, she was a remarkable woman and her story is truly inspiring. I hope you'll take a bit of time to read the article. I'm glad that we were friends even though it was only for a brief time of her too-short life.

Once again, though, I'm baffled as to why this great country of ours can't seem to care for its citizens. Our friends in Romania have health care for all at no charge. Romania for goodness sakes, a country with a turbulent history almost since the beginning of time!

Thirty years ago, I had insurance through my employer. We were poor, my husband was in the hospital for a month, but I was able to pay our hospital bills without declaring bankruptcy. That would never happen today.


Donna said...

I remember when WHH was in the hospital just like it was yesterday. I think he's condition is related to Sistoplasmosis.

I read the article about your friend. It amazes me that our country is so quick to deny benefits that are deserved. We ran into something similar when we applied for our passports. I got mine, but HB's was rejected, stating that he had prove citizenship. What a bunch of bull! We finally got it taken care of, but it was a hassle. They sure don't doubt his citizenship when they deduct all those taxes!

The [Cherry] Ride said...

Our health care system is so unfair. I didn't realize just how bad it can be until my uncle got sick a few years ago and now he and his wife have no savings and are barely getting by. I think that Michael Moore movie "Sicko" is also helping to raise awareness of just how messed up everything is.

Kentucky Girl said...

Thanks for sharing your friend and her story with us.

Jen said...

Oh wow Diana, that is just horrible ! What a sad sad story. Bush is on tv right now, in a press conference. You would just be mortified to hear him, it is so ridiculous. Sorry about your friend, it sounds like she was something very special. How very cool though, that you can look someone up and find them. Information highway is such an awesome thing. Thank you for your story