Wednesday, July 27, 2011


You have to have health insurance.

You have to have health insurance.

You have to have health insurance!

Well, I'm screwed, in that case. Because I take medication for high cholesterol, have been taking a tiny dose of medication for high blood pressure, and have a herniated disc in my spine, I am considered "high risk," and health insurance companies want nothing to do with me. This is in spite of the fact that I haven't been sick at all for several years.

When I got the notice, I was very depressed by the news. The proud little striving straight-A teenager inside me felt I'd been given a failing grade. And the paranoid Type A control freak who lives in there, too, was running around flipping switches in the laboratory, ordering flunkies to find a solution, "Now! Now! NOW!" all the while running possible scenarios of disaster over and over again. But then the shaman, who drifts around looking at bugs and dirt muttered, "You know, you're going to get yourself so worked up over this you'll make yourself sick and it will serve you right. There's nothing you can do today, just chill. Pet your dog. Trim your fingernails, they look like you're trying out for the Mandarin Squad."

The next day I dragged them all to Mass, and went into church a bit early to go over this disaster with God. Yes, I do that. In fact, when I open my heart to God, and the realm of the Unseen, things seem to make a lot more sense.

Why do you want health insurance? Because if I become catastrophically ill, I'll need hospitalization, and we all know how expensive that is -- we'd be on the street in about six months with nothing at all. (At this point, I am glad that I can't hear God laugh, because I KNOW, God doesn't deal in coinage.) All right, fine, Lord, I shouldn't worry about that. And what happens to people with no money who get catastrophically ill? THEY DIE! OR THEY BECOME INCAPACITATED! BED-RIDDEN! AND THEN DIE! Hmm. But if they have health insurance, then what happens? They go to the hospital, of course, and are treated for their illness...

How? Visions of IV's, catheters, stomach tubes, medications upon medications, hospital rooms flashed through my head. You ... want that? Yikes!

I thought about my Dad's last months. Yes, x-ray treatment and chemotherapy did slow the progression of the cancer in his body, but his doctors had to know that the disease had gone too far for a cure. Realistically, I mean. Pill after pill, side effect after side effect, finally being tied down in a hospital bed so that he couldn't pull out the feeding tube that prolonged his failing life in misery. What would Dad have wanted instead? I know that answer: total honesty, and his own bed at home, with cigarettes and the occasional beer to pass the last hours.

And my mom ... yes, hospitalization and massive treatments gave her a chance for some more years of life ... so that she could die alone, in the dark cut-off corners of her brain, with Alzheimer's. What would she have wanted if she knew what her end would be? I think know the answer to that, too.

What it boiled down to, and I know I've said this before, is that I had succumbed to advertising hype on a most basic level. When was the last time I was hospitalized? When I gave birth. The last time I had to visit an emergency room was for a sprained ankle, which they x-rayed and then sent me home to recover for six weeks, with no further medical treatment. Technically, I didn't need the hospital then, either.

Howie is aging, too, but he doesn't give a damn. He leaps into the pool over and over for the sheer joy of fulfilling a basic drive to chase the ball. He doesn't worry about his form in the leap, or if he'll unexpectedly forget how to swim when he hits the water. He is disgusted when we make him slow down and rest; he doesn't complain later when he stiffens up and limps. The next day he is ready to make the leap again. I think I can understand that a little better now.

And you know, there's not a thing I can do about the herniated disc -- it doesn't bother me a lot at all. As to the other "pre-existing conditions"... well, if I'm really worried about my health, I could lose weight and exercise more, now couldn't I?

The skinny hedge-shaman in my head thinks that realization is really, really funny.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

It's not that final stage so much that makes me want insurance. It's all those easily, yet expensively, correctable things that I sprout every few years. Insurance has helped keep me from going blind at least three times, and from going dead at least once.