A funny thing happened on my way to (and from) the forum.

When living OTG first piqued my interest twenty years ago, I did what everybody does, I read and did research.  Of course, reading is somewhat two-dimensional and it is the hands-on experience and personalizing that fleshes out one’s knowledge.  Books just weren’t enough to give me the perspective, the sense, or the feel for it.  Not for me, anyway.  But the Mother Earth News forums were a good compromise back then.  A great interim first step.

The MEN forums gave the topics and the people came together to share and explain the nuts and bolts of things, the stories that happened to them, the learning and experience of it all.  It was NOT the same as doing for me, of course, but it was a hugely MORE REAL way to learn than just by the often stilted printed words in how-to and instructional books.

Which, by the way, is the reason I write in such a personal-to-me way.  It was that style that I learned from.  It is ‘forum’ style and it reaches me.

The best part was that, after awhile, you got to know ‘the regular’ contributors.  In that ‘virtual’ forum, you made friends, bonded, made judgments and generally acted as much like a community as a computer and the internet will allow.  In fact, the MEN forums were the most human and personal places I ever found of that medium.  I still have friends from that time.

One just wrote.  It’s been ten years.

“Hey, David, don’t know if you’re still around but thought I would holler at ya.
Not much going on here, still kicking barely.  Had mitral valve surgery 
last week, and I’m doing about as good as I can. I’m trying to make it 
another year, not so sure I will though. Had a fib hit me about a month 
or so ago and my defibrillator kicked me 2 times and brought me back.
How are things going for you?” 

SK is/was a poor, Georgia ‘cracker’, ex-military vet with health problems, a lot of country wisdom and skills and even more knowledge on domestic animals.  He is single, kids grown and they were in the military, too.  Guns.  Engines. Flags on the porch.  Lonely.  Lots of dogs.  He was hardscrabble and food stamps.  Dirt poor and unemployable.  But generous to a fault and very helpful.  I liked him then.  I like him now.

He wasn’t the only one, of course.  There was P-45 immortalized as one of the characters in our last book.  The OOMs, of course.  A whole book in themselves.  Many more.  And nor was the MEN forum the only place to find friends.  Other OTG related bloggers ‘connect’.  So do readers.  I would venture a guess that I might have at least a dozen REAL friends as a result of the blogs and forums, books and other internet connections (DeWayne, Derek, John, Aldo, plus, plus, plus).  And I am sure I have 100 or so ‘internet friends’ that are very real at a certain level but that will never actually be encountered in person.

Deer Garden writes an OTG blog (see blog favourites).  Her husband had health issues too.  She shared that story.  Without being cardio-savvy, I am guessing but both SK and DG’s husband, E, had/have the same kind of bad hearts.  SK now lives in Kansas but E lives in BC.  E is going gang-busters.  All I ever read about E is how he is a-building and getting in fire-wood and doing projects and being busy all the live-long day.  E is a dynamo probably by nature but being the recipient of a new heart some years back made everything better. See E go!

The point: see socialized medicine work.

SK again: “Still in Kansas, I’m slower that’s for sure. 🙂  The ole heart is done 
for I fear, the valve was the last thing they could do. Got turned down 
for transplant due to no money to pay for the drugs afterwards.  That’s 
Waiting to see if I get any energy back to make decisions on whether to 
keep my 4 cows n 2 goats n 10 chickens.
Its cold here, freezing my butt off. Haven’t had heat.  No money to buy 
wood to heat with due to medicine costs.  Gotta love social security.
Hope your little island is warm and snug.   Haven’t heard from 
P45 in a long time.  Most of the rest of the folks we know are 
still around on the forum.”

I am sure there are a lot of differences between E and SK.  Especially now at 70.  One’s ‘Merican, the other a Canuck.  They are basically the same age, tho.  Same interests.  They are both skilled and love OTG.  They both had bad hearts.  The only tangible difference I know is what I read on the blogs and the forums.  SKs heart has limited his whole life, restricted his relationships, stopped his creativity and will likely soon kill him.  E was offered another path and it turned out better.

We, in Canada, have some real issues to deal with and even our socialized medicine can be drastically improved.  But E didn’t have to go to war.  Neither did I.  SK did.  And so did his sons.  E had his faulty heart replaced.  E has a rich life.  SK doesn’t.  And SK has had to carry his burden alone for 30 plus years.   American Capitalism has not been generous to SK.

Our peaceful, somewhat more socialized government is the difference.


15 thoughts on “A funny thing happened on my way to (and from) the forum.

  1. Canada is ranked in the top ten of democratic socialist countries in the world. A pluralistic and compassionate country. Within Canada some factions that oppose universal programmes like subsidized medical coverage oppose universal programmes by claiming that covernment is too large and such programmes are unaffordable. A recent irony is that large international oil companies in Alberts, a free enterprise group usually opposed to socialism, are seeking. Socialist intervention to curtail oil production from the Alberta tar sands. Free enterprise looking to socialism to solve its free enterprise issues.


  2. Thanks Dave.
    I should mention when E got sick he was, until then a healthy active 43 yr old who still play rec hockey. The autoimmune disease he got, at the time, hadn’t been seen in B.C. There were 63 reported cases in the world, most diagnosed at autopsy. Giant Cell Myocarditis

    His Doctor carried E’s charts with him to medical conference after medical conference looking for a treatment to keep him alive until transplant. In the end he figured out his own which is now the worldwide protocol.

    When he was in the States at Sanford he was told that E wouldn’t be a candidate for a transplant there as there was a 25% chance the disease would come back into the transplanted heart.

    We are aware that if we were 25 miles south he wouldn’t be here and I would be living in a trailer by the river…

    We never see a bill for his meds, they come through the pharmacy at the hospital.

    He has lived to pay taxes for 18 more years.. I should think with his to-do list he will be around for plenty more..

    You will never hear anyone in our family complain about the system.
    I do love this country…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yours and his is an ongoing great story. Major kudos. But it seems even greater when I think of it compared to SK. A whole other element comes into play then. SK has fight and determination, too. It has gotten him this far. But it is not enough and the journey has been, literally, heart breaking. He could have used a bit of help. But his now-president had bonespurs and was hellbent on eviscerating Obamacare – not that much would have changed for SK – but it is indicative of a cruel, selfish and elitist system that feeds off the poor and the middle class. Ours is better. A toast to both guys despite all that.


      • I’m sorry for your friend.
        It’s a terrible terrible system.. We often comment there would be no American TV shows or movies ie. Law and Order or Breaking Bad if people weren’t forced to kill or steal because someone they love was sick…
        sigh…. take care


  3. I must agree.
    While our medical system is far from perfect the alternative in the US is truly frightening…..
    Its obscene that a rich, 1st world nation like the US doesn’t have a basic minimum standard of healthcare that everyone should have access to.
    Lobbyists donating billions to “their” political party to fight “public healthcare” tooth and nail….


  4. I would say our universal coverage system is ok, besides the waste and inefficiency,that is. A friend of mine bought critical ill coverage so with the cash he got his surgery within a week in the 🇺🇸 instead of waiting for six months in 🇨🇦.


    • I tend to agree….”We, in Canada, have some real issues to deal with and even our socialized medicine can be drastically improved.” I have another friend right now on the brink and there is no surgery yet scheduled. It’s verging on criminal negligence in my opinion. It is tragic and stupid and the example of ‘the helping professions’ being an oxymoron. But, but, but….he has hope. He is on a list. It could be tomorrow. SK is on no list. There is no hope. And his tomorrows are very limited. One system is evil. Ours is just slow, wasteful and stupid. It can be fixed.
      It is one of the reasons I sit on a clinic board – to make some small part less stupid.


      • It can be. I see some signs. Many doctors and nurses are eschewing the 12 hour days maximizing their income. They are opting for ‘lifestyle’ instead. They know it is NOT working. And, counter intuitively, that is part of the answer. Keep those people HUMAN. Get ’em OUT of the ‘make-a-buck’ mentality. Give ’em back their lives. STOP factory medicine. Then get their #$!&^%$ associations to re-emphasize the morals and prime directives like the Hippocratic oath. Professionals CAN care again. They have to ‘take less’ but they will GET more.
        And that will allow more people to enter the system, that will drop the salary-protecting barriers. We gotta humanize stuff again. We gotta de-institutionalize the care part. More stay-at-home services will do that.
        Oh, I have a soapbox….


      • It certainly is. Providing treatment is expensive and so I guess public health expenditure needs to be triaged. Easier said than done. Even so, I am in favour of a broadly accessible publicly funded healthcare system. The government here does provide incentives and a big stick to encourage people to go ‘private’. It has been a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money that would be better spent on improving our universal public health services IMO (I think the data also backs that up but don’t quote me on that).


  5. Tracy, in Canada low income persons pay no premiums for basic medical services including visiting a physician, blood testing, hospital stays and necessary hospital services and procedures including surgery. Those that can afford to pay will pay higher premiums in Canada. Many jobs offer medical plans as part of a benefits package. Canada’s universal medical plan is often mocked in the USA because some procedures.such as hip replacements have a waiting list. True America offers prompt attention to those who can afford it but not to most Americans without adequate insurance. Canada’s MSP does not offer most plastic surgery but it does offer gender reassigned surgery.


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