One summer back when I was single, I was in charge of a program to teach minority high school students who had failed their grade level. Since I was in Texas, all the minority students were either Hispanic or black, and there were rival gang members represented in my classroom of 45 students. When I introduced myself the first day and saw what I was up against, I gained the instant respect of the Hispanic gang members by speaking fluent Spanish.
Let me stop to say that this was hands down the most stressful job I have ever taken, and that I was glad the program was only 8 weeks long. The government was paying these kids minimum wage to keep them off the streets during the summer. So when I gave a writing assignment, I told them that if they didn’t write a full page for me, they wouldn’t be paid, because they weren’t really there; so why should they be paid if they weren’t doing anything? The skills of the kids increased in reading, writing, and math, which were the only subjects taught all day long. One other teacher taught the math part while I taught the reading and writing section. We had 90 students altogether.
One day a black gang leader stood up to leave before it was time to go and looked at me like he was going to murder me. I had three strikes against me: I was white, I was a woman, and I was young. He had no respect for me whatsoever and often cussed at me under his breath. When he stood up, he was taller than I was, incredibly huge. I said boldly, “Wait right here.” I walked confidently out of the room and went to get the only other teacher in the entire building. Thankfully he was a man, as well as being black, and he and I got along really well. I briefly told him the situation, and he went into my classroom and told something to the gang leader, which was out of my earshot. I never had a problem with any of the teenagers again, aside from the time that a policeman came to my classroom to arrest one of them for theft.
Needless to say, my muscles were tense the entire time I was in that classroom, just to maintain order. One time during lunch, I leaned over to pick up a pencil off the table, and I threw my back out. I had excruciating pain and could hardly move.
Heavy pain killer got me through the remaining weeks. A year before that, I had fallen down some icy stairs straight onto my tail bone, knocking the wind out of me. I never went to a doctor because I had no medical insurance, since the Christian school where I worked only paid me $1,000 a month with no benefits. That’s why I had to take odd jobs during the summer, just to survive, because I had no income during the summer.
Later when I moved to England to teach middle school in London, I again threw out my back. I went to the doctor, since doctors are “free” there, and he told me authoritatively that I had crushed my tail bone, and that there was nothing that could be done except to endure it with pain killer for the rest of my life.
Two years later I moved back to the States to get married, and when my back was thrown out again, my husband wanted me to see a back specialist. After all, I had medical insurance, since I was now a teacher at a public school (a definite step down in my career after teaching in London). Plus, I wanted to have babies. I knew that pregnancy would put a huge strain on my lower back, and I didn’t want to be incapacitated.
So I went to the back specialist, who took x-rays of my back. Come to find out, what the British doctor had said was a complete lie. My tail bone was not crushed. My bone alignment was perfect. The pain that I was experiencing was purely muscular, which could be corrected through proper exercises. He gave me a pamphlet, and I did the exercises, and I actually went several years without throwing my back out. As long as I did the back exercises, I never threw my back out.
The problem with socialized medicine (free medical care) is that the doctor will do the least amount of work for you, since he will be paid the same amount no matter what he does. Sadly, people suffer for no reason when they could be cured if only they were given proper treatment.Tweet