I have, however, been eating more broccoli.
But getting back to the American health-care situation: It is bad. Consider the following disturbing facts:
FACT: American health care is a $2.5-trillion-per-year industry.
FACT: And yet it cannot make a hospital gown that completely covers your ass.
FACT: This year, 253 million Americans will seek emergency medical treatment.
FACT: If you have to go to the Emergency Room, ALL of these Americans will be waiting in line ahead of you.
FACT: And the waiting area will have a TV playing episodes of Judge Judy at the volume of the Daytona 500.
FACT: On average, Canadians live 1.7 years longer than Americans.
FACT: But because they live in Canada, it feels more like 12 years.
FACT: And because they use the metric system, this is actually the equivalent of 15.3 American years.
FACT: The male hammerhead bat, which attracts females by making a honking sound, has a larynx that takes up more than half of its body.
Clearly, we have a crisis on our hands. The question is: What should we do about it? To answer that question, we must first figure out how we got into this mess in the first place. So let's review:
OF MEDICAL CARE
In prehistoric times, people believed that sickness was caused by angry spirits invading a person's body. To get rid of these spirits, sick people went to see primitive medical specialists called ``shamans,'' who would ``cure'' them by sacrificing a goat. Of course this was all a bunch of superstitious nonsense. We now know, thanks to modern medical science, that the shaman was actually making things worse, because when he sacrificed the goat he released the goat's spirit, which was (Who can blame it?) really angry, and which would proceed to invade some totally innocent human. Scientists now believe this is what happened to Nick Nolte.
The first big breakthrough in medical knowledge was made by the ancient Egyptians, who discovered that the human body contained organs such as the pancreas, and if a person became sick, and you took out one or more of these organs, the person would get better. Or not. But either way you could charge the person, or his heirs, money. This was the beginning of surgery.
The next big players in medicine were the ancient Greeks, who believed that disease was caused by an imbalance of the body's four ``humours'': blood, bile, phlegm and sarcasm. This made for some really disgusting treatments, especially if you were diagnosed as being phlegm-deficient, in which case you had to have a transfusion from a compatible loogie donor.
The greatest Greek physician of all was Hippocrates, who is often called ``the father of modern medicine'' because he invented the concept that remains the foundation of all medical care as we know it today: the receptionist. Prior to this invention, when patients came to see the doctor, the doctor had to actually see them, which, as you can imagine, took up a lot of his valuable time because they were always nattering on and on about being sick. But all of a sudden, thanks to Hippocrates, incoming patients could be intercepted by a receptionist, who would (1) tell them to take a seat, and then (2) avoid making eye contact with them for the rest of the afternoon. This breakthrough meant that a single doctor could schedule as many as 375 appointments per hour, which is the system we still use today.
Reprinted from I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry by arrangement with G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2010 by Dave Barry.