"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
My name is Edd Webb I am responsible for the current state of my health. And I've made a right botch-up of the job so far.
I ate the cheap crappy food that is readily available in American stores and restaurants from sea to shiny sea. It was my choice, I could have chosen to inform myself of the realities of what we eat and what it contains or is missing.
But I did not. And eating this food for the last 50 some years has produced what I see in the mirror every morning. It’s not as pretty as it used to be.
Besides not being pretty it’s been painful and expensive.
Life as a disease
I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004 and I was as surprised as I could be. It kind of snuck up on me, I had no idea. After hurting my back and reducing my activities but not my calories I had ballooned up in weight. Next thing I know I’m in something called ketoacidosis. I am also in an emergency room at 3 am.
My wife and I knew something was up when a sleepy Alaska hospital ER went from a couple of nurses to a room full of people including a surgeon in very short order; because apparently all my veins had collapsed and no one was able to get an IV in me, I was also completely depleted of potassium, a condition that often causes heart attacks and strokes. The surgeon asked me if he could stick a very large needle into my forearm to find a larger vein. He said if they could not get fluids into me I was going to die. My blood sugar was over 800, the average person’s blood sugar goes between 80-120 or so.
I told him that if he needed to cut the whole damn arm off to give me some relief then he could have at it. I was very serious. The effect of being in this state is like having a gigantic soft, yet unyielding, hand pushing you down… all you can think about is getting as low to the gound as possible… anything to relieve the pressure, to get that suffocating weight off... things are fuzzy and distant...your brain doesn't work right. It’s probably a lot like dying. Because that’s what it was, I guess. A crushing weight pressing you into the earth, akin to being slowly smashed down into a grave.
After several days in intensive care I was able to get into a regular room and eat regular food. And that’s when I started sticking needles with insulin into my stomach every day… several times a day. And it keeps me alive, but I hate it. It really, really, really sucks. It hurts and leaves marks and although it keeps me alive I hate it passionately.
The ER doc came by later and said he had no idea why I was still alive. Did I mention that I had no medical insurance at the time? Nice bonus that…
Now how to afford to live?
If only I had someone else to blame for it then perhaps I could feel better about myself over this… I could have found some way to pay for medical insurance. I could have eaten better, maybe saw the weight gain as a sign of other issues but I didn’t and now here I am.
After my initial diagnosis I had a pre-existing condition and it made getting coverage tough. Most companies would not even offer it and if they did it was pretty spendy. So I operated in the world of the high-paid tech contractor in Seattle. You make great hourly rates or average benefits, but not both. Seattle is an expensive city to live in. I bought my insulin online from Canada, at full price.
The contractor life led to gaps in medical care and the inability to get insulin led to a couple more ketoacidosis episodes and hospitalizations, lost wages because no benefits means no vacation time, no work, no pay. Bills go up and hopelessness sets in. It’s a spin cycle of an existence. But hey, like I said at the beginning, it’s on me.
That’s why on a walk in the woods this morning I told my wife that if I got sick again that I did not want to go to a hospital to be saved. You see I have no health insurance once again after a head on collision (not of my fault) and I lost my job; I can’t work and I am so buried in medical debt already that I have not been able to break out of this cycle since I first hurt my back way back before I knew I was a diabetic.
We are only still surviving because the corporation I worked for when I got in the crash had paid for short term disability for me and every other employee. I was getting along ok for the first time in years with a good job and good benefits and a young lady gets on the freeway the wrong way and changes my life once again. In this instance a company really took care of me, I am grateful for that too. Its not enough to get ahead, just enough to not sink too fast. Enough to hopefully readjust once again.
Of course the insurance company did not take me to raise so I’m trying to re position my life so I can once again assume responsibility for taking care of myself and my family. So don’t talk to me of humility Mitt, I am officially humbled.
Medicine = Money
I live in a capitalist society where all I am guaranteed is the right to be born and the option to get whatever I can before I die. And that’s pretty much all I should be able to expect from anyone not in my immediate family. I got mine, you get yours. Welcome to America. Right?
I received the best state of the art medical care imaginable, the people in the Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington have saved my life on a couple of occasions even when they knew I couldn’t pay right from the start. My level of care was exceptional and I have nothing but admiration for the people who took care of me and the hospital itself. They were very damn human to me and I am grateful.
But no matter how grateful I am I will probably never be able to pay them for the care I got. I feel shame whenever I think about it because I was not able to pay my own way and now I am a loser, a sucker on the teat of all those who are not what I am. I am Mitt Romney’s 47%. As you can see I am incorrigible so try as he might, Mitt will not be able to convince me to take responsibility for my life. Although I don’t remember him trying… with me personally anyway. I just probably didn’t get on the right list. The story of my life…sigh.
So my humiliation as a man is almost complete…
…wait for it…
Now I get people on the other side offering me advice. Apply for disability. Get help from the government… Yeah, let’s take a swan dive into that psychic bone yard. Just give up? That’s not for me. Other people have lost the ability to be productive because they lose the ability to provide for themselves, my back is bent but I invested in my mind and I’m still able to think and so I should be able to make a living using that. Godammit!
The other side is that I don’t want to owe anything to these begrudging self-righteous bastards who see everything as a damn dollar. The idea that capitalism is the highest form of human evolution is just stupidity. But if that is the shitty little world view I am stuck with then, so be it.
What to do?
But I have an answer, I have a solution, at least for me…
What I told my wife still holds. If I can’t get a better handle on this disease and stay alive long enough to get medical coverage again, when I get sick I don’t want to go to the hospital to be saved. I am not going to out owning money to assholes. I am responsible for my health and I will accept the consequences of my stewardship of that responsibility. I will go to the doctors only when I can pay for it. If it’s the American way then we should live it and die it as well.
Now, if for some odd reason we should pull ourselves through this latest challenge, (my bride, the puppies and I) and once I can afford insurance I will get the best we can afford. But if Mitt Romney is president he is going to repeal Obamacare and so I might still be turned down for a pre-existing condition…
If only I could figure out a way to be profitable to the medical business community then maybe they would be able to help me stay alive. At this stage though, it’s highly unlikely.
When you get sick or disabled you disappear. Nobody wants to see you and you sure as hell don’t want to see them either. You don’t matter anymore, you are a burden. And that's how I felt… and sometimes still do.
Well if you feel that way about me then screw you and the Romney you are going to ride in on in a couple of weeks. I don’t want your charity, or your disability or social security or Medicare. I am enrolling in the "work till you drop dead retirement plan" and the "if it ain’t bleeding it ain’t broke school of medicine”. When I get a cold I am just gonna pray for a miracle.
And I am going to be responsible for all those past debts as well; I will pay that all back if it’s the last thing I do. And it might very well be. Because charity begins at home and it goes no further in my America, and that’s the saddest damn thing I could say about this place.
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