Monday, May 16, 2005

Poor in New York

Just in case you thought Missouri was the only place where it sucks to be sick and poor, the Times is doing a series called "Class Matters." Today's article addresses how a heart attack was treated in three different people - a wealthy man from Park Slope, a middle-class man in Bed-Stuy, and a working-class woman in Queens. The article isn't the best of the sort I've ever read - they could have done a better job of combining statistics with the stories, but give it a shot. And if you can read Ewa Gora's (the working class woman) story without aching for her, then you're tougher than I.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:18 PM

    Like Mr. Miele, Ms. Gora had never imagined she was at risk of a heart attack, though she was overweight, hypertensive and a 30-year smoker, and heart attacks had killed her father and sister.

    ..."My doctor said, 'Ewa, be careful with cholesterol,' " recalled Ms. Gora...When she said that, I think nothing; I don't care. Because I don't believe this touch me. Or I think she have to say like that because she doctor. Like cigarettes: she doctor, she always told me to stop. And when I got out of the office, lights up."

    "Ms. Gora had a weakness for the peak of the food pyramid. She grew up on her mother's fried pork chops, spare ribs and meatballs - all cooked with lard - and had become a pizza, hamburger and French fry enthusiast in the United States. Fast food was not only tasty but also affordable. "I eat terrible," she reported cheerily from her bed at Bellevue. "I like grease food and fast food. And cigarettes."

    She loved the feeling of a cigarette between her fingers, the rhythmic rise and fall of it to her lips. Using her home computer, she had figured out how to buy Marlboros online for just $2.49 a pack. Her husband smoked, her friends all smoked. Everyone she knew seemed to love tobacco and steak."


    "To avoid smoking, she was eating...

    As for her diet, she had vowed to stick to chicken, turkey, lettuce, tomatoes and low-fat cottage cheese. But she got tired of that. She began sneaking cookies when no one was looking - and no one was.

    She cooked separate meals for Mr. Gora, who was not inclined to change his eating habits. She made him meatballs with sauce, liver, soup from spare ribs. Then one day in mid-October, she helped herself to one of his fried pork chops, and was soon eating the same meals he was. As an alternative to eating cake while watching television, she turned to pistachios, and then ate a pound in a single sitting.


    I feel sorry for people when they have bad things happen to them. For instance my dad was a smoker for something like 35 years. Then he had a heart attack. He still lives with the health ramifications today.

    But the New York Times article, I think, tries to prove too much. It makes the concept of class do too much work.

    Basically, heart disease is a matter of a number of different factors. There are the ones you can't control, like genetics, and the ones you can, like diet and excercise. There are also the ones in between, like stress. Compared to all the factors I just mentioned, class is a really insignificant part of the heart disease story.