One Man’s Experience with America’s Health Care

On June 21st I had bi-lateral knee replacement surgery.  It was a long time coming, despite the fact that I refused to admit it until the end when I really had no choice…do it or forget about walking.

Those who are familiar with my thinking know that, in general, I am not in favor of mechanistic medicine when it replaces functional medicine. But surgery is essentially a mechanical procedure and mechanism is therefore rational in that field.

The application of mechanistic principles has resulted in remarkable advances in the medical specialties in America for two reasons: 1) Because mechanistic thinking and practice develops in the direction of greater specialization and 2) Because a relatively free market economy such as ours allows for the development of unlimited technological advances.

I made the appointment, had the surgery and 2 days post-op I took my first tentative steps.  I was incredibly fortunate to have a surgeon, Dr. Thomas Meade, that performed the most state-of-the-art surgery possible.  The skin covering my knees looked like they had zippers on them because the staples were placed so close together that they looked like the teeth of a zipper, apparently distinctive enough so that every doctor and nurse  in the rehab hospital I went to afterward said, “Oh, this is Dr. Meade’s work!”  I was also fortunate to be in hospitals that provided the highest level of compassionate, human and humane care one could ask for.

Everyone asked me about the pain…but there was none.  From the first day, my only discomfort was from the swelling which resulted in stiffness and limited motion. Now 10 weeks later, the zippers are gone, the swelling has almost disappeared and I walk at least one mile a day, at a pretty good clip.  After six weeks I was discharged from physical therapy and now am back to almost full-time practice.  I was 79 on July 20th, and tell everyone I got new knees for my birthday!

I read about the health care in Cuba, and I wonder what my story would be like there.  I saw the hospital bill for my eight day stay, and almost fainted.  I didn’t pay for it directly…Medicare and my secondary insurance did, though I’ve been paying my dues for many, many years.  (And still do, because I continue to work and pay the maximum into the Medicare fund, as well as paying for private supplemental insurance.)  But I’m so grateful to be living in a place that has the best health care imaginable…I haven’t heard of anyone going to Cuba, Bulgaria, or even Great Britain for that matter,  for a special surgical/medical procedure.

So all in all, I’m  pretty lucky…to be living at this time, in this place…this great United States of America.


  1. On a personal note, I was glad to hear that the surgery went well and that you have recovered so quickly. But I was more struck by the positive tone of the words you wrote. It is one of the pitfalls of writing about and describing the emotional plague. The reality and seriousness of the subject matter can be “too much” sometimes for some and impossible at all times for most.
    I think that the positive and healthy manifestations of recognizing and dealing with the emotional plague in one’s personal life, as well as in the larger social realm, should be expressed and explained as much as possible. Focusing on the benefits will hopefully help to develop a natural, rational attraction to this serious and profound subject in those most able to contribute to this field of study.
    I will keep the image of you walking at least one mile a day as my arthritic knees continue to effect my daily exercise and activities. You didn’t mention Canada in your list of countries. I have first hand experience with the socialized health care system in Canada. There are certainly some good benefits for many people here. I could list many examples but these benefits represent the “grain of truth” in our socialized health care system. Along side these benefits (as true as they are) are the more important hidden truths 1) economically threw inefficiencies and bureaucracy (high taxes) and 2) The ever expanding (unknowing) dependency on government by Canadians and the resulting loss of freedom / personal responsibility.
    Thank you for expressing the joy you are experiencing from your successful surgery.

  2. You should watch the movie Sicko of Michaei Moore, that broaden your horizon

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