Saturday, September 12, 2009

When health care reform fails

The reason health care reform continually comes to a head at the corner of Entrenched Conservative Ave. and Idealism Rd. is because the argument is so far from being held in the correct arena that any possibility of consensus is, well, pretty near impossible - as is evidenced by decades of struggle on both sides. Politicians, and, to be quite honest, the general public (by general public I mean everyone but me and whomever you are, reading this) have missed the point completely and total. The answer to our "health care crisis" is ultra running.

I could probably leave it at that, as the implications of ultra running in relation to health care are self-evident, but because I have some time and a strong coffee buzz I will explain. Ultra running and health care are inextricably linked, and as near as I can tell there are four reasons for this:

1) Running excessive distances pretty much well flushes the body of any troubles. The body goes into survival mode when pushed to its edge. Vital functions operate at their greatest, while lesser functions go into hibernation, sitting tight and hoping the extreme trauma will pass. I know this doesn't sound that appealing and even counterintuitive to my argument, but it is in this sustained survival mode that the bodies functions strengthen and achieve a level of durability that is more than capable of addressing the, by comparison, mundane negative health factors of day-to-day living.

2) Running excessive distances burns calories at an alarming rate. Of course, ultra runners often become non-purging bulimics or vice versa, or live a life so centered on burning calories that life loses its luster. Nonetheless, 140-200 miles a week of running will no doubt slim down those who are looking to trim up and make skeletons of those who are already quite trim (in Montana, this serves many side purposes; parka sales in the fall will increase as those with less than 3% body fat will be flocking to their nearest outdoor retailer, etc.).

3) Running excessive distances takes time. Why does this matter? More time running, less time for TV watching, smoking, boozing, family (this is not a good thing), friends (this also is not a good thing, oops), work (let me stop), etc. The point is, time takes on a different meaning for the ultra runner training 3-5 hours a day. No time for health care = savings.

4) Running excessive distances transfers business from hospitals to physical therapists (a boon to their business, for sure). Physical therapists typically give their patients exercises framed within a recovery plan for the pain-stricken individual to do independently, under the heading of freedom - as opposed to repeat 200-300 dollar hospital visits. Oh yeah, on this vein, we will also be working our way towards building a race of automatons - what, with all of the knee, hip, bone, cartilage and titanium replacements.

In closing, these aren’t quite the points I had envisioned when brainstorming the writing of this, but they are points, nonetheless. The points I was intending to make were significantly more compelling. Compelling to the point of forcing any reader of the plan to blow off whatever it was they had planned for the rest of their lives, go down to their local running store to stock up on four dozen pairs of shoes and begin running 20-30 miles a day. Unfortunately, the moment was lost. This was no classical argument – my ethos, pathos, logos and, even kairos, were weak if not non-existent. So be it. It is probably best that this sort of massive health care overhaul is left to those who want what is best for everyone but don’t know what it means to get there. Back to the drawing board for me.

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