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Glenn Beck: Put the 'care' back in health care

  • Story Highlights
  • Beck suffered excruciating pain after surgery, he says
  • Cocktail of medicines made him hallucinate, says Beck
  • Key to improving health care is compassionate people, says Beck
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By Glenn Beck
CNN
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Below is a commentary from Glenn Beck, who anchors "Glenn Beck" on Headline News nightly at 7pm and 9pm ET.

NEW YORK -- Over the holidays I decided to have some minor surgery that I'd been putting off for a while. I intended to keep the whole thing private (you'll read why in a minute) and I planned to be back at work just in time for the Iowa caucuses. Well, as the saying goes: "We plan, God laughs;" and I guarantee He's still laughing over what happened to me next.

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After his painful expereince following surgery, Glenn Beck says care is the key to fixing the health care system.

My "routine" outpatient surgery (which was on my butt -- get all your sophomoric jokes out of the way now) went awry and I was in terrible, excruciating pain. To help, my doctors who were absolutely fantastic, created a sinister cocktail of pain medications so strong that it's usually reserved only for Hollywood starlets. It included morphine, Percocet, Toradol, some sort of synthetic morphine derivative on a pump, and my personal favorite -- Fentanyl, which my doctor told me is an opiate 80 times more powerful than morphine.

That combination took me to an incredibly dark place. I began having trouble breathing, and I started to hallucinate. Every time I closed my eyes it was like I entered my very own movie theater running the movie "Saw" on a loop. I would see horrific, unimaginable images of death and after two and a half days, the combination of pain and hallucinations drove me to a point where I was literally suicidal. It felt like there was no hope and, quite honestly, if I could have ended it all right at that moment I probably would have (Sorry to disappoint some of you).

After five days in and out of the hospital, and still delirious from pain medications, I had the bright idea to post a video on glennbeck.com describing some of what I was going through. Next thing I knew, the video was picked up by the Drudge Report, posted on the front page of AOL.com, and now over 600,000 people have seen it.Video Glenn Beck speaks from the bed »

But despite the embarrassment, I'm actually glad that the whole episode went public because it's given me a chance to talk about what I believe is the real problem with American healthcare: compassion, or more accurately, a lack of it.

At the hospital I was often treated more like a number than a patient. At times, staff members literally turned their back on my cries of pain and pleas for help. In one case a nurse even stood by tapping his fingers as if he was bored while my tiny wife struggled to lift me off a waiting room couch.

I've now seen our system at its very best and I've also experienced it at its very worst. But in each case, the difference had nothing to do with whether the hospital had the latest equipment or whether it looked like the Taj Mahal. It had to do with compassion. It had to do with respect. It had to do with treating people the way you'd want to be treated when going through something unfamiliar and frightening.

That's why I don't want to hear anymore about universal health care or HMOs or the evils of insurance companies until each and every hospital in this country can look me in the eye and tell me that they their staff is full of truly compassionate people who treat their visitors like patients, not products. Hire and train the right people, and then and only then come talk to me about everything else you need.

Our politicians are right; we do have a health care crisis in this country. But it's not going to be fixed by them, it's not going to be fixed by some government agency, and it's certainly not going to be fixed by throwing more money around. No, if you really want to fix our healthcare system then look no further than the word "healthcare" itself because the secret is right there.

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The secret is "care." After all, at the lowest of my lows, it didn't matter to me whether the hospital had marble in its bathrooms or plasma televisions on all its walls. The only thing I cared about was finding someone who actually cared about me.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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