That's the opening paragraph on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Back when that law was passed, my dad was a patient in the Skilled Nursing Unit at St. Maggie's hospital in Springa da Vall. (That's native-speak, by the way.) The nurses had had an in-service about this new law and were discussing it. Dad was snoozing, I was needlepointing and it was quiet enough for me to overhear them.
I remember one of them saying, "This is well and good, but what about when we get an elderly person who is mad at the kids for some stupid reason and won't let us tell the kids why they are here?" I could well imagine her jerking her thumb in the direction of the paternal unit's room because he was just the type to pull a stunt like that.
The reason I am bringing this up has to do with the current election cycle and what I view as an excessive amount of trash talk and excrement stirring regarding the female candidate, who happens to be a whole, whopping three years older than I am.
At issue is the fact that due to her seasonal allergies, she wound up with pneumonia and the entire media universe is suddenly demanding to know about her medical history. Um, hang on a minute, here, troops. THOSE ARE PRIVATE. Reference is above.
What she is going through? It's something I know about. I have allergies by which you can set your calendar. One February in college I was toughing out a bout of them. The post-nasal drip was more like post-nasal Niagara Falls, and all that snot had to go somewhere. I wound up with a cough. That cough turned out to be pneumonia. I was not bright enough to go to the student health services, but being young and pretty darn healthy, I could tough it out.
In my thirties, I was dealing with it and went to the doctor, who handed me a piece of legal sized paper with what I dubbed his "Green Snot Treatise." It was typed from side to side and top to bottom on both sides, with hardly any margins. It told what caused the problem and when it was time to see the doctor. In short, if the discharge was clear, you deal with it by taking "red hots." (Sudafed) Keep it moving; do not let it stay put. If it stays put and you get clogged up, it will likely turn yellow and then green. At the sign of yellow, make an appointment to see the doctor. Don't let it get green first.
So now that HRC's allergies morphed into pneumonia and she did what women (especially teachers) everywhere do - soldiered on. Take it easy, rest up, lighten the schedule.... yeah, yeah, who's got time for THAT? In our world, an allergy attack doesn't stop laundry, loading the dishwasher, making dinner, going to work, etc. In her world, an allergy attack didn't stop her campaign. In both worlds, we sometimes pay the price for that, which is what happened here.
I doubt Dr. Pauze's Green Snot Treatise would have helped. I seldom got to the phone before I got to the secondary color on the color wheel, and I suspect HRC had to be prodded to take care of it in much the same way. We get too busy, right?
Certainly, as a friend of mine has pointed out, pneumonia is nothing to sneeze at (no pun intended), but at the same time, if one manages it according to what the doctor directs, chances are it can be defeated. The trick is, a person has to give up things like appearing at a very solemn and important event at the site of the World Trade Center. The place that was demolished in a terrorist attack when one was a Senator. The fifteenth anniversary was important to the citizens of the city and state she represented, and it was important to her.
HRC chose to be there - again. She needed to, and not just for her campaign. This was a gut need. The aftermath of 9/11 gave her a lot of headaches. There was the need to get medical care for the first responders, the need to comfort those who had lost loved ones, the need to deal with matters pertaining to it in the Senate. Later on, she was in the War Room, watching the live feed of the Final Solution for the mastermind of that horrific event. This is a person who had a lot invested in that and for her it had to be just a wee bit cathartic, even though it didn't end the continued tragedies our country would face.
You tell me being at this observance was for her campaign and I'm going to look at you like you've just arrived in a space ship wearing nothing but your birthday suit. You are suggesting she has no emotions regarding that fateful day and that's an assumption none of us has the right to make.
So, it was warm, she's already under the weather and she got wobbly. Now everyone is trying to create another scandal over her health. Her campaign is being accused of not being transparent.
When is the last time anyone had to issue a press release about a cold contracted during a campaign?
Suddenly, they are talking about releasing years of her health records, simply because a rust-colored television personality is screaming that she's too old and sick to be president.
I'm cringing. I'm saying, oh, I do NOT need to know about the history of her Pap smears, mammograms, the onset of menopause, the treatments for seasonal allergies, head colds or her concussion from a fall she sustained. But there is no way any of us is going to be able to avoid hearing every last detail obsessed over by the people who claim to be journalists. They have no story, but they'll make up a story just to have something out there. Because it's all about the ratings, not the need to know, nor the matter of transparency.
Her opponent will scream loudly about some obscure detail in her medical history - which was previously protected under the rule that's at the top of this piece. That obscure detail will be nothing. But the crazies will run to the internet and diagnose all manner of nut job problems and there is no way in hell we'll be able to get away from it.
So here it is. Hillary, take it from me. Do NOT sign off on that HIPAA agreement. Please. I already know how embarrassing it is to have certain procedures done and I honestly don't want to know about yours any more than I want you to know about mine. Save us, Hon! PLEASE? At the very least, redact a lot of it. In fact, redact almost all of it. Tell 'em it was labeled Top Secret and the FBI will prosecute if you release that information. Anything. Just please spare us from four years of speculation about your body.