Friday, October 28, 2011

Perspective - 1st world problems and hospitals

Is it just me or do you also sometimes take a week or six to process something before you can write about it? 


Some time ago I read a post on Simple Mom that got me quite riled up. (I've looked back in my reader trying to find that post - does anyone have the link so I can link up? Otherwise has she removed it?)

I like to affectionately call it "first world problems".

Someone had written in to ask her how she felt about donating food to others that was non-organic, processed, etc.

After all, if you wouldn't give that food to your family, why give it to others?

Well, normally I don't read comments but this time I got caught up and in my (South African) view, it was just crazy thinking.

People got quite riled up - at the time of my reading it, the argument was slanted more towards only donating organic, non-processed food to food shelters and the like.

My view is this - this is a lovely intention but when you're hungry and desperate for food, the last thing you're going to be concerned about is whether something is organic. And if you can get 5 of something for the same price as 1 of something else, would you not rather have 5????

Also, I see hungry people every single day in Johannesburg and they would rather have anything to eat than go hungry. They don't have the choice to be fussy about food.

There were a few people who thought like me but I thought I'd open it up here too and hear what you all think.

Have at it!


Then yesterday, the admin system at the hospital was just as shocking the 2nd time around so it wasn't me in pain that perceived things like that. They really just are that bad.

Yes, I've filled in a survey from my medical aid (medical insurance) and said "yes, PLEASE forward my comments to the hospital - I would LOVE to have someone contact me". Interestingly, if you just looked at the survey, you'd think the hospital was fine and in the grand scheme of things, it was fine. After all, I had a successful op, didn't die and am out.

BUT... for me and I know I'm like most people, when you're in the hospital, you want care, compassion, empathy, etc. (the people stuff) and that was lacking.

The survey didn't even talk to those issues so I told them in my free-form field that they need to include questions around those areas too because Z was the only person in about 12 that I encountered that was a SHINING light in that place.

I often joke that I'm a really bad customer (but really I'm only assertive). However, when someone is fabulous, I go OUT OF MY WAY to encourage and give positive feedback.

So I did.

And a few hours later, Z sent me a text thanking me for all my wonderful comments on her work - she "truly appreciates it".

My pleasure!

Anyway... where was I?

Oh yes, yesterday.

They have this nonsensical system where to go to casualty (emergency room), you have to go to general admissions first and then back to casualty. "My hospital" (near my house) doesn't have crazy red tape for the sake of it.

I ended up sitting in a queue for 30 minutes waiting to be attended to in general admissions.

I thanked God then that 1) I had the gall bladder incident in the late afternoon and not at lunch time and 2) I had D with me to run up and down (how do they expect people in PAIN to walk up and down). I get mad even thinking about it.

I started talking to a man next to me (as I do) and turns out his wife went for a biopsy last week and got results yesterday.

Her doctor wanted to see her immediately (never good news!) and told her they have to remove her breast immediately, so the big C.

While this man was talking to me, he started crying.

I had the opportunity to encourage him a little and I told him I'd pray for his wife, which I forgot about until right this moment!!!

But it suddenly put my little gallbladder into perspective.

No, it was not nice.

I have 4 very ugly scars on my torso and a big bruise, I'm in a bit of pain again due to the stitches been tugged out with such force but I don't have the big C.

I'm so glad I sat next to that man yesterday for giving me perspective.


And then when you're tempted to moan about money and how much you don't have, go to this link and put in your income.

You'll cheer up immediately :)

I just did it again and even though I drive the oldest car in the basement at work, buy my clothes from Mr Price, never shop at Woolies, don't have an iPad/ fancy phone, etc, I am still wealthier than most of the world.

I am blessed!

So I want to hear from you - what do you think about the organic food issue? Do you consider yourself blessed? Why or why not?

PS the organic food rant is for Mandy who encouraged me to get up on my soapbox and let it all out :)


  1. I consider myself blessed. In so many ways. Before we came to New Zealand we had no idea that Bianca was going to get sick. Once she got sick we found excellent medical care that didn't cost us anything (and we didn't have medical insurance). When she was first admitted before we knew what it was I prayed that it must please be something that can be cured and something that can be treated, so she was given leukemia which they were able to treat with a high prognosis rate. I look at the school she goes to and am incredibly impressed with the standard of education she receives. We are blessed with an amazing teacher who goes the extra mile, who is truly passionate about what he does. We only pay $70 a year for her school and absolutely no waiting lists. With my mum's immigration process we have been super blessed with the people sent on our road. And now with my Funrazor event, incredibly blessed with the support so far!

    As for your other question, I agree with you that people who are hungry and have to usually go without won't care whether something is organic or not.

  2. Gimme a break on the organic food! I am not for using food for "punitive" purposes (i.e. serving disgusting slop in prisons, for example), but donate what you can. If you eat canned beans, there's certainly nothing wrong with donating a few from your pantry. If you only eat organic fare, then - by all means - share your wealth.

    And I am so incredibly blessed!!! I am amazed every day at what I've been given. :) :)

  3. I've been waiting for this post. I think this is very much a developed world issue. People here are so far removed from true desperation. If you can't feed your family, you go to a government office and fill out a form. They give you a card, and you're set for food, housing, healthcare, AND spending money. Money you can use for anything and that you've done nothing to receive. Of course people have preferences, but I'm sure when it comes to eating or starving, which very few people here have had the pleasure to do, they would most definitely eat the spam in a can!

    I have a serious problem with the social welfare in America. I'm disgusted to see people using it as a main source of income. Is it ok to let the government support you? What values do you have if you voluntarily choose and expect this? More so, what values are you passing on? I'm all for children not starving and being taken care, but I am also strongly against fully supporting those who are unwilling to help themselves. Perhaps I should do a little venting! Maybe I'm just jealous that I make things work for us without using the government?

    I have been consistently reminded of how fortunate I am. Especially now that we have the girls I feel as if there is something to remind me how truly fortunate I am to live in a developed country, to not have to worry about disease, famine, or clean water. There is so much I take for granted and I am trying every day to be a little more appreciative.

  4. I will admit that I'm not as huge at worrying about organic vs. non-organic as some. We get a mix of both for our own food at home and I think that those that are hungry have that as the least of their worries. Sometimes, even for us it's the least of our worries. I think organic is great and everything, but I've always not been militant about stuff: organic, sweets, breastfeeding, local, etc.

    I do feel that I am blessed! Very much so. I am so lucky to have everything that I have, including the love and emotional support of my family. And I'm blessed to know you!!!

  5. I truly am blessed. I am not rich or famous, but I have all my needs met. I have wonderful friends, both in blogger land, and across town. I have my health, mind (although many might question that), and my artistic ability. So I have a full life.

    To your question regarding organic food or regular for the hungry. The hungry won't turn away from nonorganic food, but will bless you for whatever you can give. Speaking from experience, many years ago, when my daughter and I had no food, we were so thankful for the anonymous food baskets that showed up, and certainly didn't look for organic labels.

  6. I am blessed - even though I personally right now do not earn a cent ;-p

    We have a home full of things and I want for nothing :)

    As for the food - I often donate whats in my cupboard (so therefore we do eat it) and if I do buy I will try and get as much for the amount I want to spend BUT I would never but crap/off/yukky food - I just rather choose the no name to brand name or whatevers on special.

    I kinda do the same with the Christmas Party I organise each year - I try and get as much as I can with the money people donate so that the child gets "a lot".

  7. We have had a tougher year than most but I do consider us truly blessed. We have a house, mostly paid, 3 old cars, but all paid, enough food and our kids are getting a good education. The rest is extra. I had a look at my clothes cupboard the other day - really, I do not need a thing. Maybe a swimming costume and shoes when they break, but for the rest I am fine. Only bought black pants this year as my others are too big - well, I may have to buy more pants due to the size issue, but that's it.

    As to the food issue - heavens, maybe in America you can be stuck up about what food you give people but food is food - and better than nothing. Rather processed food than dying of hunger

  8. I am so with you on the eat what you get thing!! We cannot afford all organic food, why must I donate that? I know I'm also South African, but I really think it is unfair of anyone to be picky about what they get donated to eat. I will and have never given food that is off to any person.

    One day I was so cross, we gave bread with different kinds of spreads to a security guard at our complex who had no food, the idiot only chose what he wanted and threw the rest in the dustbin, we vowed never to give him anything again. That same time, we gave him a flask of warm coffee and soup, the flask was broken in the dustbin the next day we asked him to bring it so that we could fill it up, and you could see it was thrown to pieces. Hubby saw all this when he took the thrash out, and only told me after we moved away, because he knew I would go tell that oak his fortune ;)

    I still help and give where I can, but only to the people who really need it, and I don't give money to beggers, I give food and something to drink.

  9. You know I was just thinking now, we've had a little issue with family of the same problem recently...

    They wanted fancy brands, stuff that we don't even eat, and this used to cost us R1000 more on our grocery bills, until one day I just couldnt take it any more, because we don't buy fancy brand stuff, we eat the cheap but fine stuff, why cant they. There was a big arguement about it, but I had to put my foot down, as we were getting deeper into debts about this issue.

    We are blessed in so many ways to be able to help others and family, but I do believe that they have to be thankful for what they get and not be picky.

    Hope I've not repeated myself here...

  10. I love when you all chime in!

    Absolutely true - I didn't mention in my post but we pay for a World Vision child (for about the last 12 years if not a bit longer) and the subscription of R150 a month is put to very good use. I know they use that money wisely and try to get the most bang for their buck.

    Also, if I do donate actual food anywhere, I shop my cupboards first (so the things we eat - not organic - I have twins, people!) and then will definitely try get the most stuff for my money.

  11. I am with you. If you are hungry, you are not going to worry about organic or non-processed foods. I now eat organic, non-processed foods because I work and can afford it. So I agree with you.
    The hospital my son was in, in August, did have questions in where they asked about the patient care and empathy kind of things. So that was nice. That is Netcare group

  12. I am blessed out of my boots on a daily basis. I do not worry (okay not about everything anyway). I know that God will take care of me and mine...I've seen it too many times to not know it is true.

    On the organic food business I'll just say this: I would not donate organic fresh food to people in need, because often this needs to be split amongst many mouthes or many meals and that stuff tends to not keep very well. I would rather donate non-perishables, especially the kind that can be used to stretch a meal, because I think that would come in more handy.

    The other thing I like donating is tinned meat or jelly powder, something sweet and meat in general are luxuries to many people. I think someone who really needs will appreciate a tin of meat more than an organic tomato. But maybe that's just me.

  13. I can't imagine a hungry person turning down any food- and if you're going to donate, it seems to only make sense to give the most for your money.

    I don't even feed my own family organic and expensive stuff, I'm certainly not buying it for someone else!

  14. Totally agree with you: yes, it is definitely a first-world problem, and if people are hungry, they are not concerned about the way their food was grown or processed.

    We all know there is more nutritional value in whole foods over processed & packaged foods, but those are also the types of foods that spoil more quickly and are generally hard to donate usefully. I think food banks and recipients would much rather have enough canned store-brand food to make a meal than some organic, high-quality food that is going to either ruin before it can be used or will only feed two people instead of six.

    Good conversation topic! : )

  15. Goodness me but some people really live in a bubble. Of course you don't care about stuff like organic and non-organic if you are hungry! The fact that people even debate that means that they don't have a clue about what it is like to have NOTHING!
    We struggle financially. A lot. But I still can't say that we are poor. We eat everyday, I can pay my bond, I have a vehicle. I am undoubtedly a wealthy woman and so very blessed.

  16. Goodness me but some people really live in a bubble. Of course you don't care about stuff like organic and non-organic if you are hungry! The fact that people even debate that means that they don't have a clue about what it is like to have NOTHING!
    We struggle financially. A lot. But I still can't say that we are poor. We eat everyday, I can pay my bond, I have a vehicle. I am undoubtedly a wealthy woman and so very blessed.

  17. Wow that worlds richest website just blew my mind completely. Whew.

    On the organic food thing - that's exactly the problem with the "worlds richest people" - they are so busy tying themselves in knots about how to donate "correctly" that they get to argue about it instead of donating!

    My theory is - do the best you can in everything in life, including donating. If you can donate organic food and feel that's the best thing to do, then do it. If you can donate some loaves of government subsidised bread - then what the hell is stopping you :-)

    Ugh - these "first world" countries and their petty nonsense...

  18. Yes, I have to think things through before I write about them.

    I consider myself blessed in ways I never thought I deserved.

    My Nana just had her breast removed on Friday b/c of the big C...scary stuff.

  19. Thanks for commenting on my R12 a day posts.

    What that whole exercise taught me is that choice is a complete luxury. With a budget of next to nothing, even eco-conscious me had to let the idea of free range, organic and green go out the window and buy what we could afford, which meant lots of mealie pap. If you're hungry, you'll eat whatever's available, even if it's the same thing over and over again.

    I love the link to the global rich list. I've actually saved it as a favourite for the next time I'm envious of someone's car or holiday etc. Such a great reality check!


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