The End of My Rope

On Thursday, December 1, I will take part in an advocacy wall for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  Me and a number of others will visit Congressional offices in an effort to increase awareness for poo problems, to try and secure funding for government assistance in finding cures for these diseases, and, as they say in Congress, “for other purposes.”

As I’ve mentioned, really since I started this blog and especially since I divulged that I have Crohn’s, insurance is a big deal for me.  It’s a big deal for anyone who has a chronic disease that requires treatment.  It’s a big deal for the family members of anyone with a chronic disease.

In light of the upcoming changes in leadership in our government, I want to revisit this story that I’ve posted before.  I don’t know if there will be an opportunity to bring up the real-life drama I experienced when I lost my insurance in 1982.  But I will be thinking about this story as I walk the familiar grounds and office buildings on Capitol Hill.

***

The End of My Rope

Friday, the first of October, 1982, was a really bad day.

Actually, it was a mostly normal day even after I found a memo and a pamphlet in my office in-box. The law firm where I’d worked for more than three years had just changed health insurance companies. The information about our new policy, beginning November 1, 1982, three weeks before my scheduled surgery, would be with Liberty Mutual. I didn’t give it a thought.

But Andrea, one of my bosses, suggested I give them a call. “You’d better make sure they know about your operation and don’t need more information.”

So I called the number on the brochure.

Forty-five minutes later, Andrea found me at my desk, staring blankly at the ‘Sitting Duck’ poster hanging on my wall. It showed a white cartoon duck wearing sunglasses.  He’d been enjoying himself, sitting in the sun in a turquoise blue lawn chair on the side of his house, sipping a soda.  But he was looking in wide-eyed surprise over his right shoulder at two bullet holes in the wall.

Sitting duck poster

Poster by Michael Bedard
http://www.mbedard.com

I knew that if I looked over my shoulder, I’d see some bullet holes as well. I was that sitting duck — I always seemed to be dodging bullets.  Life with chronic illness had become one fucking thing after another.  Now, just when I’d accepted and agreed to the surgery that so terrified me, my insurance was gone.  BANG! BANG!

“What’s wrong?” Andrea asked.

“It’s not covered,” I said, numbly, without a hint of emotion. Then I began to hyperventilate. “’Pre-… pre-… pre-existing condition,’ they said.”

“What?”

I explained what I’d been told, that the new policy didn’t cover anybody for 30 days and that it didn’t cover pre-existing conditions for a year. The firm had changed insurance to save money. Their decision would cost me everything. Everything.

I didn’t want to have the surgery — it terrified me. But I’d adjusted, accepted that I was, in spite of my attempted denial, quite sick, and that I had to have the operation. But I couldn’t possibly pay for it. Where was I going to get the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars I’d need? I lived pay-check to pay-check, and rarely had a nickle to spare; I had no savings. My parents were retired, living close to the bones themselves. My siblings were likewise broke. And I had insurance!

Loss of the insurance meant one of two things.  I could have the surgery that I really didn’t want to have anyway and pay for it myself. Or I’d face another year of ever-worsening illness — hemorrhages, bleeding, weakness, diarrhea.  Dr. C had been clear — my colitis was not just going to go away, as much as I wanted it to.

Without insurance, even if I could convince my surgeon, the hospital and the zillions of other folks involved in a major operation to actually do the surgery on someone without insurance, I knew that I would spend the rest of my life trying to pay the bills.  Bills that would have been covered just the day before.

My mind whipsawed between the injustice of the loss and terror at what would happen to me if I didn’t have that damn operation.

Andrea came around to my side of my desk and put her hand on my arm. “We’ll figure this out, Elyse. It’s late now, everybody’s gone. But we’ll work this out on Monday.”

She sounded reassuring; I was unconvinced.

“Really, it’ll be OK,” she repeated. “But in the meantime, I need you to …”

Her voice trails off in my memory. Andrea was a compulsive workaholic, an A-type personality. Work always came before anything else. Other people at the firm thought it was annoying, insensitive, or worse. But for me, it helped. It was exactly what I needed. It took my mind off me. I did what she asked, finished up and went home.

Of course I fell apart once I was home and told my roommate, Keily, the news. I ranted, raged, and cried — I wallowed all evening.

“I don’t even want to have this operation,” I shouted as loudly as I could to Keily as I sat in the bathroom, the door open. My gut, naturally, was erupting. It almost always was by then, especially when I was upset. Cramps. Diarrhea. Blood. Urgency. My shitty symptoms mocked me, proving that I couldn’t avoid the surgery. That I couldn’t put it off until my insurance kicked in. That I was totally screwed.

Keily sat outside the bathroom at the top of the stairs, stroking Goliath; that was her perch as I got sicker and sicker. She sat there and talked to me. She kept Goliath out of the tiny bathroom (Keily’s only successful effort at getting the Goose, as we nicknamed him, to obey.) That night, she held Goliath, and soothed him and me at the same time. She let me vent, rage, rant.

“It’ll work out. There’s some mistake. They can’t just do this to you. You need to trust the folks at your office.” Keily said repeatedly.

“You mean the ones who agreed to the new policy?” I wasn’t in a mood to listen.

That night I’d skipped Goliath’s after-work walk. It was getting on towards 10 p.m. and he needed to go out. I needed to do something else, or at least cry somewhere else. Walking clears my head, lets me figure out how to fix a problem, helps me find an answer. I knew a walk would help.

“Do you want me to come?” asked Keily. She often did, and that night she was concerned. I was so shaky and upset.

“No, thanks, I think I need to be by myself,” I responded. “I’ll be OK.” Actually, I was wishing I could leave myself behind. I was sick of me. Sick of sick me, anyhow.

So Goliath and I got into the VW and headed to the Capitol grounds, where we walked most nights. It’s such a beautiful, inspiring place. Plus for a woman walking her dog, it’s perfect. Of course it’s well lit — you can see it for miles. But there are also security patrols that never bothered us but nevertheless made me feel safe. A 120 lb. German Shepherd helped make me feel secure, too.

It was a clear night, with a half-moon casting shadows from the beautiful cherry and oak trees, from the enormous rhododendron bushes and other carefully tended shrubs across the expansive West Lawn. Nobody else was in sight.

I let Goliath off his leash. Deep in my own thoughts, I didn’t pay much attention to him. Unusually, he stayed right with me that night. He was as worried as Keily.

I cannot believe this is happening to me, I thought, rage building again at the injustice. Because my whole entire adult life had been focused on making sure I had health insurance.

From the time of my first hospitalization at 17, I had lived my life — made every single decision — with health insurance in mind. My dreams of acting, of singing, of writing? Of doing whatever the hell I pleased? They’d all been flushed down the thousands of toilets I’d had to rush to over the 10 years since my diagnosis.

After my first hospitalization, and with word from the doctor that my ulcerative colitis would likely flare up repeatedly throughout my life, my parents forced me to go to secretarial school – a career path that had never figured into my plans. My mother was an office worker and she’d always hated her job.  It seemed boring and demeaning. Secretarial work had once been a good career path for bright women. But that, I thought in my young “know-it-all” way, was no longer the case. Mom was stuck with it, and she and Dad stuck me with it, too.

I complained bitterly; I was talented, funny, smart. It wasn’t fair.

I was wrong about both the work and the women who worked as secretaries. I quickly became pretty ashamed of my attitude, and some of the secretaries I knew became great friends.

Still when the chance emerged to turn a secretarial job into a job as a legal assistant, I jumped at it. In the job I’d had now for three years, I wrote for a living, analyzed legislation and regulations for the firm’s clients and learned about U.S. politics and policy. It was a terrific job. The firm had been good to me. And my parents were happy because I was still working in an office. With health insurance.

Another wave of anger came as I walked down the groomed hillside.

And then I saw it. Something I’d never seen there in the dozens of times I’d walked that route. Inexplicably, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, there was a pole sticking out of the grass with a chain attached at the top, and a ball hanging down.

Tetherball.

I walked up to it and started smacking that ball. I’d only seen cheap sets with rope attaching the ball to the pole. This one had a strong chain that was covered in a canvas sheath. But instead of improving my mood, hitting the ball deepened my feelings of desperation.

SMACK. I hit the ball as hard as I could. “MY BODY HATES ME!” I shouted as I pushed the ball around the pole.

WHACK. “MY LIFE SUCKS!”

SLAM. “Fucking, fucking FUCKING INSURANCE!

SMACK, SMACK, SMACK. “Hopeless. Hopeless. Hopeless.”

With each hit of the ball, I pushed myself towards the end of my own rope. There was no way to unravel all the problems I was facing, the problems that kept expanding.  Just as I thought I’d licked one, it would multiply. No way to fix all the crap that kept piling up. Crap that I suddenly felt that I was facing alone.

That was the moment when I realized, with surprising clarity, that life just wasn’t worth the trouble. At least mine wasn’t.

I decided at that moment to hang myself. I would hang myself from the tetherball chain on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.  It suddenly became the perfect solution.

I saw no way out. I couldn’t continue, didn’t want to continue. And I’d gotten way past the amount of shit I could deal with.

I sat down on the grass on the hill just above the contraption and allowed myself one last cry. Naturally I didn’t have any Kleenex. Snot running with my tears did not make me feel any better.

The first problem I discovered was that I couldn’t quite figure out what to call the thing. It seemed important that I know what to call it if I was going to die on it.

I wondered: Is it a tetherball set? A tetherball apparatus? A tetherball thing-y? I didn’t know the answer.

Goliath tried to distract me, to cheer me and when that didn’t work, he sat down next to me and let me use his shoulder. He tried to lick my tears away, but they kept coming. He butted his head into me. But he got bored with my misery and wandered away.

I didn’t watch where he went, I didn’t care. It didn’t matter where he went, what he did. Whom he harassed. I was done.

The decision was made.

I got up and walked up to the tetherball thing-y and realized what I hadn’t noticed before: that the chain was actually quite short. Too short, possibly, for my plan. The ball itself fell to just the height of my shoulder.

I was shocked. How am I going to do this?

I reached up, stood on my tippy-toes like a kindergartner, grabbed the chain in my left hand, and tried to pull it down a little more. But it was a chain, so it was very strong and not at all stretchy. It was also pretty thick, about 2-1/2 inches wide and not terribly pliable.

I stood there, grunting, sobbing, trying to stretch my body. I held the ball and the bottom of the tether chain in my hand, trying to figure out a way to make this work. Wondering if I could quickly have a growth spurt.

How can I get this short thick thing around my neck?

Even on my tippy-toes and pulling it as hard as I could, it wasn’t long enough. It just reached from my chin to my shoulder — not even half way around my neck!

What sort of an idiot designed this damn thing with an impossibly short chain? I wondered. You can’t even smack the ball around the pole more than a couple of times.

Not to mention that it wasn’t at all helpful for putting me out of my misery.

I pursed my lips and moved them from side to side like Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp. I rubbed my chin and scratched my head.  Tried to solve the shortcomings.

Naturally, other problems popped up too.

What can I jump off of?

Of course, the answer was “nothing.” I was on the manicured grounds of the Capitol. I couldn’t pile up debris and jump off of it because there was no debris. The neat grounds rarely had much in the way of move-able objects.  I was starting to get annoyed.

I want to die. Now. Tonight. On the tetherball thing-y. How the hell can I do this?

There on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building — with security patrols passing every 10 or so minutes — I was hell-bent on committing suicide by tetherball.  I was trying to stretch, to grow, to find a ladder, a chair, anything I could jump off of with a piece of US Government-issued sports equipment wrapped around my neck. Wanting to and trying to die.

And then it hit me.

Or rather, he hit me. Goliath, of course.

SLAM! Something hard hit the back of my legs.

“Owwww!”

From somewhere on the grounds, Goliath had picked up a huge stick – an uprooted tree by the size of it. It was at least five feet long and four inches around. His mouth was stretched to the limit holding it. And he’d hit me with it in the back of my legs.

WHACK! He did it again. I turned and saw that he’d lowered his chest towards the ground into a bow. He kept his rear end high in the air, wagging the whole back half of his body ferociously.

He’d had enough of me feeling sorry for myself. It was time to play. So he rammed me with it again.

“Owwwww, Goliath STOP THAT!” I commanded.

He didn’t listen. He went around to my left and hit me with it again. His eyes caught the moonlight – they sparkled. He was laughing at me.

SLAP! “Owwww, NO! That hurts. Cut it out!”

He bounced to my right side with the long thick branch firmly in his mouth. Pretending to loosen his grip on it. Teasing me. Trying to get me to play. Wanting me to reach for the stick, which he would never give me.

(Come on, Mom, catch me!) He was play growling at the stick and at me. He bowed again, swung his head to and fro, and the long stick swung left to right, wobbled up and down. It got stuck in the ground for a second, and then he forced it back out again with a flick of his massive head. Goliath came close to me and then bounded off with his treasure. Circling me. Approaching me, but backing off before I could get to him. He never got close enough for me to grab that damn stick.

(Come on, Mom, try to grab it!) We were going to play, whether I wanted to or not. And he hit me with the damn thing again.

“Give me that stick!” I ordered. He wouldn’t. He danced around me and the tetherball thing-y and bashed me and the pole repeatedly.

I’m not sure if he knocked me over or I sat down in defeat, crying. He bashed it into me a few more times, but then lost interest. Goliath dropped his weapon — well out of my reach — and sat down beside me. He put his paw on my lap, his head on my shoulder and nuzzled me. Chewed at my hair and my ear. Let me scratch his ears.

“You silly Goose.” I said pulling his ears and tail affectionately. Hugging him. “You’re gonna kill me one of these days.”

I knew then that I couldn’t kill myself, that night or any other. Nobody in their right mind would take my stupid dog.

 *     *     *

I learned when I went back to work on the following Monday that the person I spoke with at the insurance company was wrong.  Mistaken.  My company’s coverage was considered continuing coverage and so my condition was insured.  I had my surgery and became healthy for the first time in about a decade.

Since the election, and especially since seeing the appointees to healthcare-related positions in the upcoming Trump Administration,  I have been haunted by the memory of the night I nearly ended my own life in a fit of desperation.  And while I think we can all agree that it was the silliest suicide plan ever devised, that misses the entire point.

And that point is that folks who lose their insurance or who are without insurance are often desperate.  And close to the end of their rope.  I certainly was.

How many other Americans have been in that position?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  Millions?  How many think, consider, and/or attempt suicide?  How many will in the future without Obamacare?  Without Medicare?  Without Medicaid?

The New England Journal of Medicine reported the following:

First, many suicidal acts — one third to four fifths of all suicide attempts, according to studies — are impulsive. Among people who made near-lethal suicide attempts, for example, 24% took less than 5 minutes between the decision to kill themselves and the actual attempt, and 70% took less than 1 hour.  (Miller and Hemenway, 2008)  (Emphasis added.)

I am not a traditional candidate for suicide, I don’t have the risk factors.  But I was, literally, at the end of my rope because of a combination of constantly dealing with a difficult disease, being broke because I was young and just starting out, and suddenly losing my insurance.  I would have had a huge financial burden I would never be able to pay off.  All through the bad luck of bad health.  Simple bad luck.

When I hear the anti-Affordable Care Act folks preaching about how we need to get rid of Obamacare, I want to share the story of my desperation.  Because a flawed system is better than the old system, where pre-existing conditions — the very thing that makes insurance absolutely necessary — will be the very thing that made insurance coverage impossible.  There are problems with Obamacare.  But we need this program or we need a better program.  Going back to the old system is already unthinkable.  And the solutions I’ve seen from the GOP will not keep people like me with treatment options, out of medical bankruptcy, or away from desperate action.

Health insurance for many people makes the difference between life and death.  Literally and figuratively.

It is equally important as we all age to remember that Medicare is a lifeline for the elderly.  It is a promise to them — to us — made long ago.  A promise we have expected to be fulfilled as we planned for our future as senior citizens.  A promise that we have all paid into like our 401Ks, and that we have earned the right to use when we reach the appropriate age.

Keep your hands off my Obamacare.

Keep your hands off my Medicare.

46 Comments

Filed under 2016, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, A Little Restraint, Perhaps, Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, Chronic Disease, Crohn's Disease, Curses!, Don't Take My Medicare, Goliath Stories, Hands off My Medicare, Health, Health and Medicine, House of Representatives, Humor, I Can't Get No, Not something you hear about every day, Shit Your Pants Scary, Suicide, Suicide Attempts, Taking Care of Each Other, Things that make me nuts, WTF?

46 responses to “The End of My Rope

  1. Pingback: Don’t Make Me Do It | FiftyFourandAHalf

  2. I’m just about beyond words. I’m glad tetherball uses a short chain. I’m glad you have a dog. And health care’s one of the reasons I love living in Britain, where the idea that medicine should be for profit sends people into shock.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ellen! I agree about all three. And I d wish we would join you guys in a national health service. Although I am quite sure I’d bitch about that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s a lot to bitch about–especially since the Conservatives have been in power and are doing their best to wreck it. In a perfect world, we’d find a way to protect it from political meddling. But in spite of everything that’s wrong with it, it’s wonderful and people love it.

        And complain about it.

        Like

  3. I love you!! You’re a fucking warrior, a hero, and everything in between. Women like you give me inspiration!!
    I tried Lexapro…very bad experience.
    You keep doing what you’re doing!!💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • ❤️. Sorry my solution didn’t work for you. But talk with your doctor who knows you best. He/she can likely help. Because you’re worth it!

      Like

  4. Feels weird to like this post, because I don’t. I mean I do in that I admire your courage to share something so personal, and I’m so glad you’re still here to tell your story! I guess it’s what provoked it i.e. America’s healthcare and insurance system, that I don’t like. But I’m not from the States so maybe I’m not supposed to understand these things 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I’m an American, and I don’t understand this shit either! But since it had a relatively happy ending, well, you know. But I’m glad you stopped by.

      Like

  5. I hope you had a successful lobbying day. I only see one way we’re going to keep coverage for pre-existing conditions. That is through some form of socialized medicine, such as Obamacare. Also, taxes must be raised to support it. But I hold little hope, in this taxaphobic country, for that happening. It’s a damn tragedy, but it’s we Americans who keep doing this to ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tippy, my lobbying was so successful that the House passed a bill — the 21st Century Cures Act — the day before I even arrived. How is that for power?

      But more seriously, I am concerned. Ok, terrified. But I left sufficient copies of this story on the Hill that at least I’m sure they won’t use my tax dollars for tetherball. And that, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a victory.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There is nothing funny to say about this… so I am sort of at a loss for words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That may be a first, Art.

      I thought of it then as a bizarre occurrence — I mean really. Tetherball? But in the intervening years I came to see the darker side. Both are correct. That’s in fact why I think it’s s good teaching tool. Because it’s clear from the start that it wouldn’t work, yet the desperation is still there.

      Like

  7. Bonny Lambert

    Elyse, a horrifying, familiar story, although I did not remember all those details. Beautifully, powerfully written piece. Hope today went well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pal. It went well — wish I could do more.

      Ya gotta put in all the little details when you write it up!

      You remember the Goose — what a nutcase he was. I will always miss him

      Hugs

      Like

  8. I worked in human resources so I know all about health coverage. Yes it all sucks. I tell everyone to get everything done prior to retirement because no matter how costly, business coverage is better than Medicare with a med sup. The costs are crazy. I was at a cardiologist for an annual check up with no problems (but he wanted to see me yearly). He did a EKG and spent 10 minutes with me and it was close to $500. Not going next year unless I have a problem. Drugs costs are another topic. Many new ones are not approved by Medicare plans. I live in fear that I will be bankrupted by a severe health issue as I age. I wish you the best in Washington. You will be representing many of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kate. Don’t you feel like everybody always has their hand in your pocket? I do. I no sooner put a dollar in there than somebody else is making demands on it.

      Until your comment yesterday about Medicare, I didn’t know that it was as bad as you mention. I know a few folks on it, and they haven’t complained. Or no more so than I do about the fact that my insurance is a huge % of my pay and then I still have co-pays and deductibles…

      The day went well. I will probably blog about it later in the week. Thanks for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are healthy people, both retired. Healthcare insurance with Medicare (it’s not free) and med sup plans to make up what Medicare doesn’t cover come to just under $600 a month for the two of us. It was much cheaper when I worked by at least half. I’ve been retired for 5 years now. I know businesses are struggling to cover the costs too. An advantage they have is the younger, healthier pool of people bring down the costs. I am glad your day went well. I am being optimistic about things because it takes time to make changes. I cannot see Medicare going away without huge demonstrations. People with walkers can be really mean! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Elyse, This had the same impact on me it did the first time I read it. Like a brick in the face (or a giant dog, I guess). As a Canadian, I can’t imagine what my life or perhaps end of life would have been like when I had my cancer, if I had no health insurance. We all think we are invincible when we are young, that nothing can go wrong, and then it does. Most are not prepared. I struggle to understand, again as a Canadian who has had free coverage all her life through my government, how anyone could be against Obama care or an improvement on it. It might not be the best plan but they had to start somewhere. I’m really glad Goliath was able to literally knock you off your feet that night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Michelle, I know. As an American who’s had to make changes and life choices based on insurance, I struggle to understand why we don’t have something similar. Of course, I’m pretty sure I’d still find something to grumble about!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. THANK YOU, Elyse, for this post, I relate to it in so many ways. For example, after I finally felt ready to have needed open heart surgery a few months ago, I talked to somebody at my health insurance company who told me I would’t be able to have it done at the Mayo Clinic, where they had much more experience with unusual hearts like mine. She was wrong. Another person I spoke to at the insurance company told me my claim would most likely be rejected when it was submitted by the hospital. She was also wrong. I’m so glad we’re both still here! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Lord. Don’t you just want to throttle people who give you wrong information — because there can be consequences! An “I don’t know the answer to that” would be so much better. It just goes to show you that some things never change! OF course, it’s better that they were wrong than if they had been right!

      I’m glad we’re both still here too. The ‘sphere would be a lonelier place without us!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. dconnollyislandgmailcom

    This is a very moving, thought-provoking post, Elyse. Thank you so much for sharing this personal story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Donna. When it actually happened, though, I didn’t really think of it as a suicide attempt — I thought I was just being completely ridiculous, and I told it to a few people as kind of a silly dog story. It was much later that I went, “Oh Lord. I was ready to …” That was when it became scary!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. So many thoughts come to mind. Unless the Republicans come up with a replacement for Obamacare, millions and millions of people will lose their health insurance. I simply don’t understand how they think they can survive that politically. At the same time, given some of the weaknesses in Obamacare, I think it is possible that a replacement could improve upon it. Just not very optimistic about Republicans coming up with that improvement.

    My parents were huge believers in insurance — auto, home, life, health, who knows what else. All of it and one did not survive without all of them in place. Even when I got kicked out of the house because I wasn’t following their rules anymore, they kept me on their policies as long as they could — or at least until I was in the position to afford insurance myself.

    I don’t fall far from the tree and have followed their lead. Gotta have insurance … and more than the minimum. I marvel at the concept of people who think they don’t need health insurance. And I marvel at the idea that as a responsible adult who has health insurance, I have to pay, through my premiums, for the health care provided to those who don’t have insurance. That is the biggest reason I was a supporter of Obamacare — that it would require everybody to pay into the health care cost pool.

    You talk about how the need for insurance drove so many of your decisions. I’m not sure that it has necessarily done that for me, but I have always made sure I was in jobs where that was part of the benefit package. The reality is that I’ve never even considered a job where I wouldn’t have health care insurance. And, as a state employee who gets full health care covered for life after 20 years of service, the single biggest reason I haven’t quit my job from hell is that I am less than two years from that 20. So I get it.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My dad sold insurance, so it was always drummed into me that it was necessary. Especially once I developed health problems. They were less focused on my siblings who were healthy.

      But my colitis (that was really Crohn’s) was pretty active, always. So it was clear that I had no choice! And I am the same way with my son — he is healthy, but you never know!

      I don’t know what they’re going to do. But they cannot just screw everybody. Or can they?

      Like

      • That’s the thing … “you never know.” Even as a relatively healthy person, I go to the doctor several times a year. To make sure the sore throat that has gone on for a couple of days is or isn’t strep. To find out if the pain that’s “right here” and keeps coming and going doesn’t mean something. Because I tore a groin muscle while playing soccer. The list goes on. I don’t get the idea of not having insurance and taking that chance. Or expecting somebody else to pay for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve got to give you credit for your willingness to share your story and for standing up to your beliefs. Good luck with your upcoming advocacy.

    PS: Don’t forget that classic sign from (I think) 2012 … Keep the government out of my Medicare

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, Elyse, what a crappy, crappy thing to happen. And how wonderful your dog was there to save you, especially from death by tether-ball.

    As soon as I read about your conversation with the insurance company I knew that somebody got it wrong. Group insurance has NEVER worked that way. And nobody could EVER get cancelled for having too many claims – either individual or group. That was crap that people who wanted reforms said to scare everyone. There used to be pre-existing condition limitations on individual policies, but there was always a safety-net coverage solution available for people who couldn’t get it in the standard market. It was either cheap government insurance, Medicaid (which nobody wanted then and still doesn’t because it’s lousy,) or really, really expensive markets-of-last resort that the states sponsored.

    Now coverage is really, really expensive for everybody.

    Obamacare sucks. It’s 6:45 and I’m still at work because I’m trying to help my clients deal with the consequences of this fiasco – premiums that are going up from 25% to 200%, reduced choices of doctors and higher deductibles. Everybody who gets a subsidy is getting a much bigger subsidy next year (courtesy of all of us taxpayers) but it’s not enough to cover the rate increases. I don’t have any options for them, frankly.

    Maybe the crafters of this mess had good intentions – who wouldn’t want everybody to get cheap, 100% comprehensive coverage? But good intentions are no excuse for total ineptitude. It was obvious to anyone who understood insurance that this could NOT work. You don’t get to have100% coverage and cheap at the same time. It’s one or the other.

    One of my clients wanted my help looking up breast pumps because she’s expecting a baby next month and one part of Obamacare is that breast pumps MUST be paid at 100% by your insurance. She ordered a $400 breast system. She’s not sure what’s so great about it, or if she’ll ever use it, but damn, why not? It’s “free.”

    As to Medicare, it works pretty smoothly but we can’t afford it. My last appointment today was telling me that her 90-year-old mother had her first mammogram ever this morning. She said, “Mom, why did you do that? If they found cancer would you have surgery? Chemo?” Mom said no, but her doctor kept insisting that she have it done because it was the only one of Medicare’s “free” services she hadn’t had yet.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but we have to do something or else the whole damn system is going to come crashing down.

    Climbing down off soapbox due to nosebleed, heading home for liquid dinner. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I sip my wine, I will respond to your comment!

      In the intervening 35 years, I learned a lot about insurance (although nothing compared to you!) It was a mistake on the part of the person on the other end of the phone. Had I been smart at the time, I would have called my dad, who was an insurance agent, who would have told me that, just like you did. But I was flipping out, didn’t know how the world worked, and saw my life passing before my eyes. Lucky for me that Goliath was there.

      I am frustrated with what I hear about Obamacare, from you, from the news and from people I speak with. I do know that some people are happy with it — including some I know. But you point out just some of the problems with it. And coverage is never free, you’re right about that. No free lunches.

      But I will tell you that private insurance, through my job in a small company (BCBS) has gone up astronomically, at least where I am. I get raises every year, but the cost of insurance increases are always in double digits. Insurance costs about 37% of my salary, before taxes.

      I’m completely in favor of a national health program. Even knowing that I will hate that too. There’s just something about insurance. It’s like the DMV. We all bitch.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Aw, Elyse, I’ve been there. My dog, Sherman, pulled me out of a similar situation, although at that time it wasn’t because I was ill, it was because I had just come home to mama after an abusive relationship. But, as you know, I do understand the health insurance issues – if I ever lose my insurance, I won’t be able to afford my treatments for my ulcerative colitis. And then maybe Puppy Cody would have her job to do to keep me from doing something irreversible. I’m not even sure that Medicare will cover my treatments – which means my husband (who carries our insurance) has to keep on working just like me. It’s a sucky world out there.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This makes me very sad. And angry. You know when I worked as an investment manager I often heard from people who otherwise were relatively well off, who would do XYZ, except they COULDN’T because of their health insurance needs. And I worked with old people who couldn’t make any of these decisions for themselves, and often had no one (family or trusted friend) to help them, and so we did it. I see my brother who has no health insurance, who ruined his foot at the beginning of the year, who bought a house last year because finally his life was getting better. The worker’s comp is paying the bills for his foot so far, but he can’t work yet, and when he can, what kind of insurance will he be able to get? Medicaid if he’s lucky. Holy fuck…

    Liked by 2 people

  17. First off, gotta love dogs.

    Secondly, lay this out nicely. Print it out. Leave a copy in every single office you visit.

    They need to read it. And they will. It’s well written, clear, simple and true — and moving.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Karen. That was my plan in reposting it. I modified it slightly to fit the current political situation.

      It’s funny, but for a long time I didn’t realize that this was, in fact, a suicide attempt. Because (1) it was such a silly method — I’m pretty sure tetherball is not in the top 10 most effective methods; and (2) Goliath calmed me down.

      He was completely nuts. But he saved my life in many ways. Gotta love dogs!

      Like

  18. First off, gotta love dogs.

    Secondly, lay this out nicely. Print it. Leave a copy in every single office you visit.

    They will read it. The should get it. It’s well written, simple, clear, true — and moving.

    They need to hear it.

    Liked by 3 people

Play nice, please.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s