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Whence Hope?

The Economist blog declared Scott Brown the winner at 2:36 this morning, and asked for 2010 predictions in the comments. The feedback was not encouraging. One commenter wrote:

In no event will rancor between the parties decrease. Unless Jesus comes back to convince them to play nice.

True enough. Although I do imagine that when Jesus comes back it will somewhat lessen our need for healthcare reform.

Thinking about hope and faith and healthcare this morning got me remembering a story. A few days after Harvey was born I had some swelling in a private region of my private region, and the midwife determined that what was necessary was a shot of cortisone. This isn't exactly street-level stuff, at least not if you live on a street in Bedford, so she told me to go find a doctor to prescribe it. She could administer the shot, but as a home-birth midwife she can't actually get the medicine because blah blah blah this country sucks. Anyway, after bypassing the medical industrial complex for my entire pregnancy I suddenly had to go begging for someone for a shot in my hoo-ha.

First I called my regular gynecologist, the one I hadn't seen for over 10 months, and let's just say that she was not happy with my request. If you're brave enough to give birth at home you must also prepare yourself for getting yelled at. A lot. Plan B was the ER, so Dan and I prepared ourselves. We packed books, lunches, diapers for the baby, and headed over to our local hospital.

I presented myself to the admitting desk. "I gave birth three days ago and I have swelling in my la-la-la." She looked at me with a completely blank face, stared for a few seconds, and then said, "Go talk to the nurse. Around the corner."

I entered the ER proper through the large double doors and looked around for a nurses' station. There was a desk with a few ladies in scrubs standing around, so I addressed myself to them. "The woman at the desk told me to come here. I gave birth three days ago and I have swelling in my la-la-la." They looked at me blankly. "Ummmm," one of them said, "You'll need to talk to a nurse."

They called over another woman who was walking down the hall. "This lady wants to speak to a nurse" they said.

(Not to interrupt the story too much, but maybe a start to reforming healthcare in this country would be implementing an actual procedure of admitting patients to the ER... I'm no process expert myself, but this sort of thing might help as a time-saving measure.)

"I'm a nurse," the woman boasted, her chest puffing out in front of her as she sauntered over. It was as if we had called for Superman.

"I gave birth three days ago and I have swelling in my la-la-la," I said.

"Oh Brother!" she sighed. She looked me over like I was toxic. "Okay," she said with another big sigh. "Let's get this girl a room."

That's why people go into nursing I hear, because they loooove helping sick people. No, I'm just kidding! It's because they can't get into college.

"My husband is here with the baby, I'll have to get them," I said.

"WHAT???" She exploded. "You brought a newborn to the hospital? Tell them to get out of here right now!"


"Go tell them to go home! Then you come back here! This is no place for a newborn!"

(Not to interrupt again, but does anyone else see the irony here? I AGREE that a hospital is no place for a newborn, that's why I didn't give birth to one there.)

Anyway, here was my predicament. Three know-nothings inexplicably dressed in scrubs and Superman over-burdened the nurse wanted to put me in a room for an undisclosed amount of time, separating me from my three-day-old baby who needed breast milk every hour.

I walked back through the doors of the ER and into the empty waiting room. Dan was sitting there reading a book with a sleeping Harvey in his car seat. To protect from ambient germs, the car seat was covered in a linen blanket like a giant face mask for the whole contraption.

"Let's go," I said.

We went out to the car and called the midwife. "I'll lie down all day, I'll ice it, I'll apply salts. Can I please just go home?" She heard the trembling in my voice and she told me I could give it another day and reevaluate tomorrow. We drove back through Concord with the sleeping baby in the back. Diaper bag still stacked with fresh diapers. Wrapped up sandwiches uneaten. I bit my lip and felt like a moron.

We pulled into the driveway and turned off the car. Dan came around to my side to open the door for me. "Our hope is built on nothing less," he started humming "than Jesus Christ and God's goodness." The rest of the hymn continues: "I shall not trust the sweetest frame, but only rest on Jesus' name."

It's true. We know that home birth is medically safe - we have hard evidence. But we also know that medical evidence isn't the be-all end-all understanding of the universe. And that's the real reason we chose to begin our family far away from the judging eyes of nurses. They're not the ones who can bring life from death, even if they do think they're superman.

The chorus of the song goes: "On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."

The next day the swelling was gone.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to make anyone think that the way out of our nation's health care crisis is to voluntarily forgo medical treatment when nurses are bitchy. It's a different comparison that I was drawing in my brain. Everyone was so hopeful that healthcare reform would get passed, but then the politicians all mucked it up like they normally do, and the bill got watered down like it normally does, and now we've elected another republican to the senate which makes it less likely that even the crap version will stay in tact. And yet, are we that surprised? That the two-party system failed us? That something sucky happened in politics?

It's a bit early to look to the end of the age for help, what with so many politicians unsaved and all. But it's not too soon to put hope in a good repository of hope. It's worked out before. And so, at the commenters urging, I will ask Jesus to inspire our politicians to make nice with each other.

After all, if a little prayer can alleviate swelling in your normal every-day pussy, it shouldn't take much longer for the ones in congress.

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