Thursday, August 28, 2014
The Best Health System in the World, if you don't count all the other countries...
In July 2003, I was sitting in my car waiting to be waved through a construction site at 8:30 in the morning when I was suddenly struck from behind by a drunk driver who didn't notice that the traffic light was being voided by a police officer directing traffic. That drunk driver (who was also driving on a suspended license) slammed into my car while traveling at approximately 25 MPH- the force knocked me into the intersection and to within a foot of the cop, who shook his head and announced into his walkie-talkie "we'll need an amubulance, some guy with his head up his ass just caused an accident."
I went to the hospital in that ambulance, as my spine felt like it had been twisted into a knot. There I was told that the drunk driver who hit me while on a suspended license also (surprise, surprise) didn't have any insurance. Yeah, he was a real winner, that one. I needed several months of therapy that my insurance paid for (after a lawsuit, but that's another story,) and that brings me to the reason for this blog post.
One part of my therapy was the use of a TENS unit- a little briefcase thing which included a machine that would send electric shocks into the small of my back while clipped to my belt. I had to put down a $200 deposit for the machine, which was available only with a prescription, despite the fact that it consisted entirely of sticky pads and wires and a box which directed about the same amount of electricity as your average Sony Walkman.
When my therapy ended, I went online and discovered something very interesting- I could buy a TENS unit from any number of pharmacies in England for about $30, no prescription required. I bought one, to deal with occassional flare-ups of back pain (unlike most Americans I see in commercials, I would rather not pop Tylenol every few hours or even an Aleve every freaking day I have back pain. I kind of like my liver. I'm funny that way.)
Well, look who's finally caught up. Now you can buy a cheap, probably very temporary version of the TENS unit which has been sold over the counter in the UK for more than a decade, and I'm sure it's going to be a very popular idea because hey look here's Shaq selling it. I bet Icy Hot's version doesn't last one-tenth as long as the $30 unit I bought in 2004 (it would be hard to tell, because mine STILL works.) But this is just another example of how Capitalism triumphs in the US-- YEARS after a simple but effective device which (need I remind you?) does not require drugs with awful side effects was made available across the pond, we finally get to buy our own crappy Icy Hot version ($41.99 at my local CVS) in our own Grocery-But-Also-Drug stores. And because this is America and all, our disposable version will be occupying landfills everywhere while those European TENS units just keep on working. Just like mine.
Maybe we were just waiting for Shaq to say it was ok?