I'm up early this morning. Contemplating the way things are. Because that's what you do when it is the wee hours of the morning. And you're sick. And you have no health insurance.
The first thoughts that come to you are those of dread. Why the heck is my throat hurting so much? Is it strep? If it's strep, what am I going to do about it? I'd have to do something about it obviously. Remembering the time when I didn't do anything about it and ended up with pneumonia. Didn't have insurance then either.
This is followed by the denial phase. Of course, it isn't strep. It's just a sore throat. The aspirin makes it hurt less, so it MUST not be strep. Right? Sure, the fever got rather high yesterday, but aspirin took the edge off of that, too. It's not serious. Really, it's not.
Quickly, the dread creeps back in. But the pain woke you up, you idiot. Swallowing isn't supposed to wake you up. At this point, you must throw all your energy into heading off total panic. It'll be better in a little bit. That's right. Somehow the magic of sunrise will make it better. Everything is better in the light of day. Sure. That's it.
Then comes the balancing of fears. Which is worse? Strep throat? Going to the doctor and risking adding even one more penny to the balance sheet? At what point does the balance tip too far to recover from?
Then comes the time for counting your blessings. I'm luckier than so many. I shouldn't complain. Others have it much, much worse than I do. I have a roof over my head. Food to eat. Clothes to wear. And, dammit, a very sore throat! What am I going to do?
What am I going to do?
Then the fatalism sets in. If it continues, I'll just have to go to the doctor anyway. Risk the bill. Try to avoid a bigger bill. Nothing to be done about it. It's probably not strep anyway, right?
And I think about how 50 million of us, in a population of 311 million or so, have to go through this type of small hours calculus, or, for the small ones, have parents that must do it for us. And I wonder why, in a country that is so rich, this is acceptable? But, on some level, it is totally acceptable or we would not have one sixth of our people without health care. We wouldn't have politicians who suggest those without the basics of life are somehow just too lazy, that no circumstances could have led to this otherwise. We wouldn't have a population so fearful of their own vulnerability that they feel the need to lash out or ignore the have-nots for fear that one day they might join their ranks.
Then thoughts come full circle. There's a very good chance that it's not strep. If it continues for a couple more days, I'll figure out someway to pay the doctor and, if need be, the pharmacy. And I'll deal with whatever I have to deal with. Because that's the way things are.
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