01/09/2008 05:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fresh Air

Is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly a great movie, a good movie? I don't know. I have to be honest with you, during the entire film, I kept thinking the French healthcare system sure seems good to me. My mind kept focusing on the hospital rooms, the bedding -- curtains that billow in the breeze. The whole hospital experience seemed less foreboding, more serene. I say this not as a criticism of the film -- perhaps it's my frustration with our healthcare system, or maybe I was influenced by Michael Moore's documentary Sicko. There was a flurry of criticism when Moore's documentary seemed to indicate that the French medical system was better than ours. Many were outraged and claimed the French system was cluttered with delays in seeing doctors and being admitted to the hospitals. So as I watched Julian Schnabel's film, I couldn't help but make comparisons to our healthcare system. I kept thinking how great the hospital looked. They actually have windows that open. Fresh air. We don't have windows that open. And we got rid of fresh air. We have recycled air from sick people. But we trust that the air will be made fresh again.

There wasn't much opportunity to see food in the film, but the little I did see looked better. I know I am basing this on looks rather than tastes, but presentation is important. This French hospital had terraces where they could take the patients for some sun. And this hospital was near the beach. And if it's a good day, they can even take you down to the water. In Los Angeles, they have a hospital in Santa Monica. It's near the water, but it's windows don't open. It doesn't have any patios. And they certainly won't take you to the beach. And the French hospital seems to be fully staffed. A lot of nurses. Very attractive nurses. I've been a patient in a hospital here, and you can't find a nurse. Of course it's hard to tell who a nurse is since every one wears scrubs, from cleaning maintenance to the surgeons. They do have name tags, but you can only read them from a distance of one foot away from your bed, so the accepted practice in the American hospital is to keep yelling "Nurse!" until someone turns and provides assistance.

I know it may be an overgeneralization -- and not having done the research to validate this point of view -- but if someone has suffered a paralyzing stroke, and is left without the ability to even speak, and has to blink with one eye in order to communicate, and has the urge to write a novel, you are better off in a French hospital.