Monday, November 08, 2004

IV Drug Users, Medicare and Pancreases

We learned an interesting quirk about your kidneys, heroin and health policy today. Using IV drugs i.e. shooting up heroin causes your nephrons (the functional unit of your kidneys that filters your blood) to shrink and seize up which will eventually lead to kidney failure. People with kidney failure are eligible for Medicare. For my Canuck readers, Medicare is the nationalized (*gasp*) health plan in the US for those who are 65 and over and, as it turns out, for people with end stage renal (kidney) disease.

Therefore, if you fry your kidneys using drugs you'll be covered for dialysis and the majority of your health care expenses. However, Medicare doesn't pay for any type of rehab for these users. Essentially, they'll pay thousands of dollars a month for dialysis but not a penny on any programs aimed at getting you off drugs. Brilliant, no?

In other news, I have come up with a topic for my patient education project which is a good thing seeing as how it's due on Friday. I've decided to teach 4/5th graders about diabetes and their pancreases. I've designed a "Pancreas Pledge" which children sign after promising to eat healthy, pancreas-friendly food and to exercise every day, thereby making good use of all the energy that our pancreases gave us by producing all of that handy insulin.
It's hard to find pancreas clip art.

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