BY DAVID PERRYMAN
For those of us who didn’t end up pursuing a career in healthcare or any science-related occupation for that matter, our high school physics and biology classes serve to provide us with our basic understanding of how the nature works.
Words and phrases like “the coefficient of friction,” “photosynthesis,” “catalyst,” and “stimuli” were all given meaning in science class decades ago.
One of the postulates discussed in a class was that human beings can sense pain from only one body part at a time. We did simple experiments like biting our lips or pinching our legs and the theory did appear to have some merit.
Apparently an episode of House M.D. also explored that idea. The concept has been called “Ukhtomsky’s Doctine of the Dominant,” named after a Russian physiologist in the early 1900s. Strangely, aside from a pre-Bolshevik era Russian and the fictional Dr. Gregory House, there is very little research about the subject.
It could be that the only practical value of the concept is to explain why some patients do not feel the sensation of, say, a bone that was broken during an accident, until the pain of, say, a laceration received in the same accident is treated and that pain begins to subside.
Feeling pain in more than one place could also be applied to Oklahoma and its current state of affairs.
For instance, during the past legislative session, it seemed that all eyes were on the education budget. After all, a decade of cuts to Oklahoma public education had totaled 26.9% and the future of our state’s children was being threatened. Parents, students and concerned citizens from across the state stood firmly with teachers who raised awareness about 10 years of legislative neglect and, as a result, steps were initiated to at least stop the bleeding.
Frustratingly, without a plan, there is no legislative leadership. Putting out fires is no way to plan for the future. As steps are taken to address K-12 educational needs, other areas of neglect rise to the top.
Oklahomans must be pro-active in determining what they want the future of the state to look like.
We say that we want businesses to bring good jobs to our state, but without exception those businesses say they want an educated and healthy work force.
While we have historically funded our CareerTech system, we have fallen woefully short in funding our colleges and universities. Our future is not bright when students are dissuaded from higher education by the bleak outlook of a mountain of college debt.
We say that we want all Oklahomans to have access to quality healthcare, but we suppress health outcomes by refusing to address high uninsured rates and uncompensated care. Consequently, hospitals and ambulance services that must provide care without regard to ability to pay are closing or cutting back on services.
Our tax dollars go to Washington but we refuse to consider allowing working Oklahomans whose employers do not provide health insurance to have a path toward wellness. More than 65% of the other states accept federal funds and are experiencing better outcomes and a stronger medical community.
We shake our heads at the violence in our state and don’t even consider that with Medicaid expansion comes health care that provides, among other things, treatment for mental illnesses that are especially critical in uninsured populations.
Our state’s priorities are reflected in how state funds are spent. I want my children and grandchildren to prosper in Oklahoma. That will only happen if we thoughtfully examine our state’s shortcomings and systematically address its needs.
The pain of failing to fund education and health care is readily apparent. A good first step is to treat the problem and eliminate the pain for generations to come.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House