Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Healthcare Rights... or wrong?

I had an interesting conversation with a patient yesterday. He was talking about one of his favorite family practice docs. He'd built up a large practice in a pretty smalls town over the years. As he approached retirement, he decided he wanted to sell the practice. He interviewed a lot of young doctors, but wasn't able to find anyone he was willing to trust the practice to. It seemed all these young docs aren't willing to live the kind of lifestyle rural family practice docs have for years. They only wanted to work 4-5 days a week. They wanted to be able to take vacations... The patient went on to tell me that he hoped I wasn't like one of those. That I was willing to sacrifice for the good of the community.
Contrast that with a post I just read here. It tells the story of a pediatrician who's decided that medicine really isn't her #1 priority. She has a new baby. She feels like she's missing out on so much by working 65 hours a week in her current practice.
What other field is there where we expect that somone should be required to sacrifice in order to better serve us? Do I ever think, "that's just not right for Taco Bell to close @ 1:30... what if I'm hungry at 2? They are just being selfish... not willing to sacrifice for the good of the community."
I think that what it comes down to is that people are seeing healthcare as their right. They deserve it, and anyone, be it a Dr. or an insurance plan, who tries to tell them they don't have that right is just being greedy, or selfish, or not willing to sacrifice like they should.
I don't understand this line of thought. How can we possibly have that right? To say that I have a real right to healthcare is saying that I have a right to force someone else to work for me... that's slavery, or at least indentured servitude. If I have a right to take from someone their life, liberty, or property (three very real inalienable rights) if they infringe on my rights. If someone takes from me either my life, liberty, or property, they will be punished by law - and deprived of either thier life(death penalty), liberty(prison), or property(fines). Now, if I have a right, a real right, to healthcare, I am claiming that anyone who impinges on that right should be punished (taking away life, liberty, or property). Is that really what people think? Should a Dr. really be punished for not providing healthcare to a patient? If he provides poor care, causes harm, etc... for sure he should be punished. But simply refusing to treat someone? Deciding to work 40 hours a week? 20 hours?
I don't think people are following their reasoning through all the way. They are seeing something they want, that's important to them, that they may not be able to live without... and thinking they must have a right to it.
Any thoughts? Where does a right to healthcare come from?
Just for the record, I feel physicians should sacrifice for their patients. I plan on working long hours and holidays. But that doesn't mean I think the patients have a right to it. I'll do it out of charity, not obligation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Great Divorce

So I just finished reading "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis... What an amazing book. I really do think that he had an amazing understanding of the gospel, but I'm more impressed by his ability to express that, in prose, rather than a discourse.

The great divorce tells a story about what happens to spirits after we die... the choices we have to make to make it to heaven. It was fascinating to watch as person after person chose to keep some part of hell in themselves, rather than give it up and receive heaven.

People hung on to pride, glory, even misery, rather than accept joy.... it really just did a great job of making me think, about the things that I hang on to, rather than move forward to receive all that God has in store for me.

My mission president was fond of saying that if you want to live in the Celestial Kingdom, you have to be willing to live a Celestial law. If there are laws we don't want to live, we won't want to be there. This just goes along with C.S. Lewis' book so well. If there's anything we want more than exaltation and eternal joy, we'll have it instead.

Anyone else read the book? Anything you've gained from it, or find wrong with it?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Does Prostate Cancer Prevention Justify Masturbation?

I came across a post yesterday that got me thinking about masturbation again, and a conversation I've had on another blog.

First off, let me say that this post isn't about whether masturbation is healthy...

The post cites an article that was just published that looked into the the association between masturbation in early adulthood and risk for prostate cancer. Now, the study showed an increased risk of developing prostate cancer early for those who masturbated most frequently in their 20's, but even in their own discussion admit that the high level of hormones leading to the increased risk may well be the reason for the higher levels of sexual activity (masturbation or intercourse). Thus, the high levels of testosterone are causing both the frequent masturbation in the 20's and early onset of prostate cancer.

One thing they showed is that masturbation in later years tends to serve as a protection from cancer, presumably from clearing the prostate of carcinogens by ejaculation. This protective affect has been shown in other studies as well. In the linked study (much larger too: 800 men in the one finding masturbation to increase risk; 29,000 in the one finding it to decrease it), the effect was shown to be true even for younger men (20's).

But as I said, that's not the point. Sure, I believe that medical science has almost completely redeemed masturbation from the disease/insanity/imbecilism-causing activity it used to be seen as. Rather, my question here is: Why do we LDS feel that in the commandments must be temporal in nature. In D&C 29, the Lord tells us that His commandments are all spiritual, not carnal, not temporal.

If masturbation is wrong morally, what does that have to do with the physical. The act could easily be inappropriate morally without having adverse health consequences. But Mormons seem to love the idea that all the commandments have direct temporal reasons for their existence.

It's like having a conversation about the health benefits of drinking a glass of red wine at dinner, or the health benefits that can be derived from drinking tea. Mormons (ok, so that's a blanket statement, and probably shouldn't be, but let's read that as, "many of the Mormons I've come in contact with") tend to think the scientists are wrong, or trying to appease their consciences, etc.

To wrap things up, I'd still recommend the reading of an article called "Historical Development of new masturbation attitudes in Mormon Culture: Silence, secular conformity, counterrevolution, and emerging reform" for a history of Mormon views on the subject. It seems to me that what started out as something that was 'bad' because it caused health problems (according to erroneous medical opinion of the day), came to be called 'bad' morally because of those cultural perceptions (mainly by Elders McConkie and Kimball) and then 'we' tend to try to say that masturbation must still be 'bad' for you in a physical way, because it is 'bad' the way Elders McConkie and Kimball claimed. Seems like some amazingly bad logic to me.

I'm willing to have a discussion about the morality of masturbation, or of drinking wine, etc., but why are we trying to say that science will eventually show a temporal, physical benefit to all the teachings of the church, or that studies that show the opposite must be wrong. Following a commandment doesn't always lead to better health or longer life. If you want to know more about what I think about it, you should read this post. Either masturbation is healthy, or its not; either it's moral, or it's not; those two have no necessary relation, if you ask me.