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Those of you who regularly follow my column may have noticed it has been missing for the last four weeks. During that time, I battled complications from the flu and at times my very life hung in the balance.

You’ve seen the statistics. Every year, some 25,000 people die from the flu. This year, the outbreak has reached epidemic proportions, and the danger is far from over.

What makes someone vulnerable, while others recover in a few weeks? How do you know that what you are experiencing has crossed the line into dangerous territory?

Those at both end of the age spectrum are especially vulnerable, as are those with any underlying medical condition. I had been battling a pesky sinus condition for a few weeks before becoming ill on Christmas Eve.

Sometime before dawn on Dec. 26, I passed out from dehydration, was treated in the emergency room, and tests were run. A few days later, the hospital confirmed I had influenza B and could expect to be sick for at least two weeks.

I still felt terrible, but, OK, that was to be expected. I took my medicine, drank lots of fluids and slept most of the time. By the second week I was no better, and by Sunday Jan. 7, the fever was back. These are all dangerous signs.

The next morning, we headed to the doc who sent me to the hospital. He called ahead to the emergency room and told them I needed to be admitted and what treatment to begin.

The next two hours were the most excruciating. The ER was packed. There were a lot of sick people there, but most belonged in the doctor’s office or a clinic.

Why were these patients clogging up the emergency room? Because if they went to a doctor or clinic, they would have to pay. Our perverse system makes the hospital treat anyone who walks through the door, while a doctor still has a choice. As long as our emergency rooms have to function as “free clinics” this will get worse.

Also, the system rewards those who fail to save or obtain health insurance by passing on the cost of their treatment to those who do, in the from of higher prices. Obamacare will do nothing to solve this problem. In fact, the evidence shows that Obamacare is forcing many companies to go to part-time workers, trim the number of their employees, or pay a fine and abandon their health-care coverage all together.

I sat propped up between two chairs until they could find a gurney. I never made it into an actual emergency room. The very sick patients who needed to be admitted were kept in an auxiliary area with a little curtains between them and treated until they could find rooms. I could hear the groaning of those around me. I remained in this makeshift area for another 24 long hours.

Hospitals were full after the holidays with patients who had scheduled elective surgeries, in other words, patients who could pay their bills. There was little room left over for emergency patients like me who may or may not be able to pay. Can’t blame the hospitals.

Over the next six days, I received what is still the best health care in the world. What if this happened five or 10 years down the road? Would I have survived?

The only way Obamacare will work is to ration care. That’s how it works in countries with socialized medicine. That is why the unelected 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board was created for Medicare.

Don’t worry, if you aren’t old enough for Medicare, you will be. In the meantime, do you want this panel making cookie cutter decisions for your mom and dad?

Prior to this experience, I was so discouraged about where this country is headed, I seriously thought about giving up the fight, throwing up my hands and saying, “What’s the use?”

In this period of confinement, I had a lot of time to pray. I was reminded that when God puts a problem on our heart, we are to ask Him for direction and follow through. The results are God’s job!

To be born in, or become a naturalized citizen of a free country is a great gift, one worth fighting for.

So, I’m no longer ready to throw in the towel. I am ready to write more columns and books, make more speeches and help enlighten anyone who will listen.

Thank you Lord, for this flu.

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