Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Stay Healthy

Everyone needs someone in his or her life that helps keep family safe and navigate phases of life

The scraggly lodgepole hung onto those tiny beads of water for dear life. It hadn’t seen rain in what felt like forever. There was no way the needles were going to let those precious droplets of rainfall plummet from its sharp tips onto the dry lawn.

It’s hard to call it a lawn. Months ago it lost that summer luster. The green turned yellow. The only things alive-looking were the dandelions, with their greenish skeletons splattered across the yard.

My late neighbor told a story of when she was young, frantically pulling dandelions from her lawn, an old man drove by and stopped. He rolled down his truck window and shouted, “Hey girlie, want to know how to get rid of those dandelions?”

The dandelion puller quickly responded that she did want to know that secret. The old man smiled and retorted, “Die and leave them.” Then he just drove away.

I’m middle-aged, nearly old. I hadn’t been to the doctors in a while. Recently, I tried to get a wellness exam at my doctor only to discover she had retired. The nerve, I thought, but I was truly grateful that professionals retire to enjoy life.

Yet I felt abandoned. It was my fault. I should’ve maintained better contact.

About 152,000 Montanans have a preexisting medical condition. Many details are boring and don’t worry most much. I’ve visited many friends at some of the fanciest hospitals in the nation.

I recall prior days when insurance companies classified things like a scratch to an eye a preexisting condition for every medical need for that eye.

I’ve got good health insurance. I pay a lot of money for it as a middle-aged man. The premiums represent a significant portion of my farm income and suck plenty of life out of us.

When I broke a tooth on a popcorn kernel, I called my dentist at Lilly Family Dentistry. She’s been my dentist for two decades. She would fix me up the following week. That seemed easy.

Now onto that wellness exam, I was on a roll.

I called All Families Healthcare in Whitefish for a check up. The receptionist was friendly and scheduled me for the following week. Another win.

A nurse practitioner spent plenty of time listening as we talked about my health. After some routine examinations, she suggested I give some blood to check my levels. Oh, I explained, I’d eaten a couple eggs that morning.

I was to return the following morning with an empty stomach. I lay down on the exam table with outstretched arm. She was about to stick me with that needle. I’m not a big fan of needles and promptly blurted out, “will you be my primary health care provider?”

She laughed and said that it sounded like I was proposing to her. I was embarrassed – that’s hardly what I meant. I felt the blood that was intended for the vial race to my face.

Everyone needs someone in his or her life that helps keep family safe and navigate phases of life. Meandering through the medical world is obnoxiously complicated and expensive.

Thankfully, I guess, she stuck that needle into my vein. The blood I thought was in my face seemed to rush into the tube.

I feel lucky to have an advanced practice registered nurse in my corner, helping me look out for my health. She said that if I ever needed extensive or specialized care she could help me find the places or prescribe tests.

Nurse practitioners and dentists are independent. They often see the same families for many years over a lifetime. I’m grateful for dentists that repair teeth and nurses that help keep us well. I’m not willing to leave the dandelions behind, as they’re good eating.

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