my jaundiced eye

the absurdities of life

Month: January, 2016

well done

well done

Okay, so after eleven months, the medical industrial complex has finally wrung MJE dry and kicked me to the curb…my right hooter has been mammogrammed, programmed, pajamagrammed, MRI’d, FYI’d, DIY’d, x-rayed, blue rayed, inspected, bisected, dissected, irrigated, oxygenated and irradiated. Every doc, nurse, orderly, lab tech and passerby in several states has felt it, held it, fracked it, hacked it and packed it. I’ve been cooked to medium-well and am sporting a Boehner tan headlamp with a permanent smirk. Oh, that and a head of holocaust hair.

So, what did MJE learn from this experience? First off and a tad bit late for me, that the kind of cancer with which I was diagnosed is a form that many in the forefront of oncology now believe may be best left alone and monitored closely. No rush to surgery. Treated more like a polyp in your bottom than a bombshell in your bosom. Also that a surgeon never met a piece of meat he didn’t want to carve up and will never admit when he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. I also realized that many doctors are as resistant to change as the most stagnant civil servants and that a patient needs to do her homework, sharply question a treatment plan, or lack thereof, and to over ride it without feeling guilty about changing docs or getting another opinion. My health and yours are more important than some doc’s inflated ego. I also think that being a tattle-tale is a good thing for the general betterment of the afflicted. I’m not talking about going to the medical board, but if a specialist has been referred by your primary doc and you have valid complaints, you should let the referring doc know before he sends another hapless victim over.

I also discovered that nurses and technicians can literally be your best friends and are entirely under-appreciated in the medical universe. I found that getting their take on what’s really going on is invaluable. They are in the trenches all day every day while most docs pop in when required, having read the notes (or as is sometimes the case not even that) give you a cursory once over and waft out the door without so much as a by your leave. That said, MJE was treated by a couple of exemplary docs who were more than willing to put away their stop watches and take whatever time was necessary, so all is not lost, yet.

Finally MJE was extremely gratified to find that it is actually possible to get your money’s worth out of the godless health insurance companies if you: meet your horrendous deductible, then get some really crappy diagnosis, have months of complications, endless (often unnecessary) tests and a tediously lengthy treatment plan. MJE totally ate BC/BS’s lunch in 2015! Admittedly it was an extremely long and unappetizing meal , but in the end the dessert was delicious. And for once it was on the house.

the magic kingdom of medicare

the magic kingdom of medicare

Upon MJE’s first feeble step over the age 65 threshold I was presented with the compulsory red white and blue key card to the gates of the magic medicare kingdom. Whoa nelly, thanks but no thanks to the federal government’s largesse, I’ll take that in dodgy tax deductions if it’s all the same to you. Mind you I am not some right wing republican fiscal hawk…I am a card carrying liberal who truly believes in the social safety net for those in need. But what about the rest of us? Don’t we have rights too?

It boggles MJE’s mind that even those of us who (in our dotage) are foolishly willing and fully able to pay for our own health insurance are forcibly mandated to be wards of the federal government. I frankly feel that my constitutional right to grossly overpay Blue Cross/ Blue Shield in return for unbelievably crappy health insurance coverage has been trammeled. I demand justice!

The pols in Washington are terrified of touching the “third rail” of politics aka medicare and social security. MJE for one, insists that someone up there grow a pair and speak up for the disenfranchised high income bracketeers. We need someone to courageously speak out, “Fellow lawmakers, this isn’t a red issue or a blue issue, this matter goes to the very heart of our fundamental values. Old rich Americans, of all political stripes are being denied their inalienable right to choose to be over charged and underserved by the private health insurance industrial complex. Our well-heeled patriots deserve better! They have dutifully contributed to medicare for decades only to have their right to refuse it repudiated! This is a travesty!”

But not one politician, left, right or center is willing to stand up to The Man and say:

“NOT EVERY OLD GEEZER WANTS YOUR STINKING HEALTH INSURANCE SUBSIDIES! THIS ISN’T GODDAM SWEDEN! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN AND IF THEY NEED IT! MEANTIME, BLOW THE DOUGH ON ANOTHER STUPID WAR OR SOMETHING AND LEAVE OUR GERIATRICS ALONE!”

But all is not lost. At least MJE still has the incomprehensible medicare supplement and prescription benefit programs. I can continue to pay a few overpriced premiums and have most of my claims for legitimate medical expenses denied. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing.

welcome to old age

welcome to old age

Okay, so MJE just reached a milestone on Jan 6, Twelfth Night, arriving at the official pearly gates of old age. Sixty five long ones. Leave it to me ole muddah to give birth on a date that would ensure that I would have to endure the full measure of the season (admittedly back then xmas didn’t start in March). Is it not enough that I have to slog through a (literally) godforsaken xmas, then pump myself or prop myself up for NYE, then being a glutton for punishment throw a NYD party? At that point most people can, in the immortal words of Al “Carnival Time ” Johnson ” throw my baby out the window and let the joint burn down.” But nooooo, MJE has to suffer through another six days of dread.

MJE deserves an Oscar for best performance in a tragicomedy for her feigned enjoyment of the occasion. The OB&C is nothing if not consistent. Every year it’s some random cheap card (often commemorating a completely different occasion, like “get well soon” or “congrats on the new baby”) hastily snatched up along with a $6.99 bouquet of half dead flowers at the Food Lion or Kroger on his way home from a massage. This year, because it was a big one, he did pick up a couple of gifts at the hardware store while he was buying spare parts for his boat trailer.

For this landmark I was thinking surely the OB&C might arrange some sort of massive celebration. Something like the surprise trip to NYC I set up for his 65th, or the birthday dinner at a great New Orleans restaurant for 30 people on his 50th when I secretly arranged for the children to fly in from afar (back when MJE and the OB&C were still communicating with Albatross outside of the bank wire transfer system) as a surprise and then rented the bar across the street for the after party. I was certain he had to have something up his sleeve. He’d let slip what I misinterpreted to be a few clues one night when he’d had a snootful and I was confident enough to wear a tiara over my platinum black rooted wig in anticipation. However, I soon realized that an extravaganza was definitely not in the offing. Instead we drove 30 minutes and to some “upscale” dive, surrounded by loudmouths and toddlers, seated at a teeny tipsy table for two in a dimly lit back room next to the fire exit.

I ditched the tiara and quickly downed something called the corpse reviver and two glasses of wine as a chaser. I’m totally sure the rest of the evening was everything I had hoped for.

thanks loads

thanks loads

Well the holly, jolly frantic materialism of xmas is over until next month when it will slowly start to creep back in. I gave the OB&C a pasta maker and a “no oil fryer” both of which are still in boxes under my desk. Well, more accurately I gave them to myself and he was a pass through so I could feel self satisfied about my thoughtfulness and generosity. The OB&C doesn’t suffer such pangs of self doubt and so isn’t hypocritical enough to go to the transparently selfish trouble of getting me gifts. We’ve been married long enough for him to know that if I want something I will have long since beaten him to the punch before he ever picks up on any hints I might drop. And really, that whole charade is such a waste of time. My motto is: Decide what you want, get it, don’t ever use it, re-gift it and move on.

Apropos the business of the giving and the getting I was reading an article in that commie rag, the New York Times this Sunday about how the mere thought of being appreciative has become the latest means of spiritual masturbation. In the alternative universe of the truly narcissistic, simply thinking of being thankful, whether you express it or not is plenty good enough. Apparently, keeping a journal of your thoughts of appreciation is also a tonic for the self-absorbed soul. The heavy lifting of actually outwardly expressing your appreciation for something is totally unnecessary, just pondering it is sufficient. Making the effort to grunt out an actual thank you every once in a while or god forbid writing a thank you note simply demonstrates how incredibly insecure you are. Loser.

Well in the spirit of self-congratulation on her mindful appreciation MJE says, thanks for nothing.