Day 261. Touching the Ceiling

Sunrise at Pollution Pond

Just got back from art class tonight.  My painting looked so much better in class–but don’t blame me for the colors:  she only let us use two!  Think of it as sunrise at pollution pond.

Blame it on my mood.  I’m pure nerves about the costs of my healthcare today.  When will I touch the ceiling….and crash to the floor?

One reason I love about writing creative non-fiction, such as the work in my book and the writing in this blog, is that it involves a certain amount of research.

So a research question is embedded in the topic I pose myself today: What is the ceiling on your health insurance, Heidi?

                 I find myself stuck on this one.

Yet, it isn’t as though my poor little hypermobile fingers won’t type the question at Google‘s receptive, blinking cursor, or that I can’t compose the precise search term.  Rather, it is that I can do it spot on, and Google will respond in 0.040126678 seconds.

 I don’t want to know the answer.

While I talk a good game at being poor at mathematics, I could in seconds have a running ticker in the lower left-hand corner of my “screen,” that is to say my personal visual field.  Then, every minute, waking and non-, for the rest of my existence, a dwindling balance would be ticking away there, like the doomsday clock does in Times Square.

Oh, I have a days-left clock going already (thanks to Dr. Dimwit of the “You have 261 days left to live fame”), which I try to grey out for my own sanity.  But the fact is that I write a $512 monthly health insurance premium check, and, again, math disability be damned, the figure turns red as I write it.

How can this possibly be, it wants to know, that you can be paying this amount, exorbitant to be sure, and it’s not enough, until we realize that you’ve had three MRIs and two cat scans in the past four months. Let us devise a broad estimate that each of those studies costs $1500 (without taking into account the cost of the radiologists’ time to read the exam and report on it).  So that’s $7500.  Add to that a $12,000 hospital bill for December (again, without any of the doctors’ bills). Not to mention that is one of only four hospitalizations in 2011.

The good news is that while I am not a cheap date, 2011 was not a bad year as they have gone for hospitals. Compared with 2008, for example, when I spent some six weeks in the hospital, 2011 was a banner year. In 2008, my hospital bills totaled more than $50K.  Are you keeping track?

I’m not. I have already purged these numbers from my poor, diseased mind.  Good Lord!  There is only so much a chick can tolerate, and when you supposedly have 261 days left on the planet that type of data is disease.

This reminds me, actually, of the era when I first had a credit card, back in the early 1990s.  If you don’t know me, then let me apprise you that I just paid the last one off last year.  That’s twenty years of paying off balances. It took that long to rebound from my original accounting method, which involved my putting a figurative hand over one eye daily or so whilst making large purposes and shouting loudly “Oh, ah just can’t possibly have reached mah $25,000 limit yet!”  My goodness, I was expert at that shout (and loud could be so relative, particularly when I was unaware they raised the credit limit a few times).  But I perfected it at a time when my therapy was conducted via the retail channel.

It wasn’t my fault.

So I can see myself with these medical bills too–oh, the fault is on the insurance company.  So what if it’s $50K? Or $100K?  Who cares?  I don’t care what the limit is because I have an expiration date–so I can leverage my limit against the insurance limit, see?

I realize how dumb I sound here. Irony. Measured Irony.

My only hope, actually, may be the threatened “death committees,” which reportedly will vote (supposedly frequently against) benefits to those who have situations like aneurysms and genetic diseases.  They will make the decision for me.  I won’t have to worry about whether I can pay for the insurance.  I simply won’t be able to afford for my treatment out of pocket, and out-of-pocket may become my only option.

I guess that it’s sort of like pollution, though.  I sort of have to look at it like the repulsive person my age that I’ve become:  What does it matter if I’ll be dead by the time it  becomes unavoidable?

Life is a picnic, at least for now.  I think I’m going to eat desert first from now on.

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