The Life and Times of a Curious Conservationist

including environmentalism, explorations, and any extraordinary thoughts that occur along the way

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The Convincing Case for Eating Local


Laying out the case for eating local…it just makes sense!

Originally posted on The EcoBeat:

EcoBeat Staff – Just a hundred years ago, almost every one ate local. It wasn’t a trend or a restaurant fad; it just simply wasn’t possible or cost effective to eat a banana every morning with breakfast or avocados with lunch. The rise of trains and fossil fuels paved the way for refrigeration and transportation of food across distances we never believed were possible. Fresh vegetables entirely out of season were available for purchase a continent away. As the means of shipping became more and more affordable, so too did food. We were able to spend less per capita on food than ever before, and we loved it. Nutrition had the immense potential to improve, and improve it has, but not everywhere or for everyone. We now face questions such as how to deal with childhood obesity, an issue that stems fundamentally from a lack of nutrition and whether or…

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Heart Surgery at 25: Why the ACA Matters To Me

I’ve heard a story in which a man is walking along the beach at sunrise, where there are thousands of seastars washed up on shore.  He sees a little girl desperately, yet systematically picking up seastars and flinging them back into the water.  When he reaches the girl he asks, “Why are you throwing them back? There are so many, you can’t possibly make a difference.  Throwing a few back doesn’t matter.”  The girl just picks up another seastar, throws it as far into the water as she can, and says, “It matters to that one.”starfish

I am that seastar.  And the Affordable Care Act matters to me.

Since I was little, I’ve had a heart condition.  Actually I’ve had it since I was born, but of course I didn’t know it was a “condition” when I was young.  I just knew that sometimes, my heart would randomly start racing, as if I’d been sprinting the 100 meter dash, while in reality I was just sitting reading a book.  Since it happened so infrequently (maybe once or twice a year) and never lasted more than a few seconds, I never thought much of it.  However, when I was in college it started happening more frequently, and for longer times.  It became more difficult to slow it back down to a regular beat.

Of course, like any normal, mature adult, I insisted that it was no big deal. I didn’t need to see a doctor, it was just a little quirk I’d always had.  Luckily for me I had a friend who insisted I see a doctor.

So about a year ago I did.  And then I saw a cardiologist.  And found out I had Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). (Of course I had to wear the most awkward heart monitor with those sticky EKG electrodes all over my body for a WEEK before they could tell me that’s what it was…)  SVT is a condition where there’s a tiny little extra electrical connection in your heart, and sometimes the current that causes your heart to contract gets recirculated, making your heart race.  Annoying? Yes.  Life-threatening? Probably not at my age (but could be for older people).

I had two options: I could be on medication for life that would suppress, but not cure me; I could have heart surgery to fix the problem.

I went on the medication for a few weeks while I thought about it, but for me the decision to have surgery was pretty simple.  And the number one reason why I decided to have it?

Because for one more year, I am covered on my father’s medical insurance.  And he has really, REALLY good coverage.

So in April I had heart surgery, and now I’m “cured”.  Since the day after the surgery, I’ve been waiting for my bill, expecting it to be substantial (The total cost was over $64,000).  This week, it came.  Anyone want to guess how much I have to pay?…..

Fifty dollars.

You read that correctly.  And this is where the ACA comes in.  I am responsible for $50 of a $64,000+ surgery, because I was allowed to stay on my dad’s insurance until age 26.  If it wasn’t for that, I would either be living with a heart condition and taking medication for life, or I’d be swimming in medical bills for years.

So you can say what you want about the ACA, make it into a political argument, trash talk it, call it “broken”.  But the fact is: It matters to me.  And I know I’m not the only one.

I’d like to take a brief moment to draw attention to SVT.  While not life-threatening in young people like myself, it can be very dangerous to people with other existing heart conditions or older folks who may have weaker hearts.  SVT is frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety, so it doesn’t get the attention it really deserves.  Many people aren’t properly diagnosed until they end up in an emergency room.  If your symptoms sound like what I’ve talked about, it’s important that you see a cardiologist who can help you determine the cause.


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