I’ve discovered that I cuss when I’m coming out of anesthesia.
I’ve discovered that when you’re really in pain — think passing-out pain at 1 in the morning — modesty and dignity do not matter.
I’ve discovered that oh, yes, there is a difference between aspirin, Tylenol and the high-powered and highly addictive pain-killers I can neither spell nor fully explain.
No worry. I am healthy. Just went through a bad spell. It can happen when your next “big” birthday — even if it’s a few years away — is your 50th. Life kicks you around, laughs at your complaints, leaves you with a few bruises and shows you what, and perhaps who, is really in charge.
It’s nice being active and back at work. The stories are now (slightly) humorous — which is good, since I need a little humor to open each day’s mail.
Without insurance, my recent hospital stays would have been infinitely more problematic. Even with insurance — good insurance, in my opinion — I’m getting bills for co-pays, anesthesiologists and other medical-related services I don’t remember but apparently I was given. Another bill arrived Wednesday, which makes three or four in the last two weeks. They’re like tribbles. Open the mailbox and another falls out.
In all seriousness, my family and I are among America’s fortunate. We have health insurance that predates most discussions of health-care reform or individual mandates. It isn’t cheap (for our employers or for us) and it doesn’t cover everything. But it does provide an invaluable peace of mind — especially when it’s 1 in the morning and you feel as if you’ve being attacked by bounty hunters armed with sledgehammers and crowbars.
In other words, I can’t imagine enduring the last few weeks if I also had to worry about paying five-figure medical bills (or higher) that pile up when your health goes awry.
Millions of Americans do, of course.
None of this is meant to make light of the nation’s ongoing efforts to decide the correct path on health care. Much of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act now resides in the hands of the Supreme Court, with a ruling expected this summer. Republicans want the court to rule the act unconstitutional. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, promises to repeal the act if he’s elected. Democrats want the act protected because their story hasn’t changed: too many Americans don’t have access to health insurance.
I agree. Politicians left and right have made this about nasty politics, not about helping Americans or finding an acceptable middle ground. Critics have made this about fighting socialism or neutering the Tea Party or ensuring that illegal immigrants don’t get care ahead of red-blooded Americans. Lobbyists and TV pundits have made this less about access to health care and more about “winning.”
Yet, when someone wins, someone loses.
Yes, I’ll admit that the Affordable Care Act is a laborious read. In that sense, it’s Obama’s version of former Gov. Bob Riley’s ill-fated Amendment 1; too many pages, too many chapters, too easy to mischaracterize or misunderstand. Digesting it is like reading a Tolstoy translation. Understanding its nuances? That’s a tough task.
This week, one of the health-care law’s most popular components — a tax credit for small businesses that offer employees health insurance — hit a bump in the road. With research showing that less than 180,000 eligible businesses have filed for the credit, Democrats are trying to coerce Republicans to help them streamline the filing process. (Good luck there.) Business owners say the process is too cumbersome, so most who are eligible don’t bother.
Makes you wonder: How many Americans who work at small businesses don’t have health insurance because filing for the tax credit is so difficult? I can only imagine.
It’s easy to criticize or support the Affordable Care Act when medical bills aren’t piling up on your doorstep. But when you’re the unfortunate sap with an IV in his arm and waiting for a doctor to make your pain go away, the last thing you want to fret about is dollars and cents.
Phillip Tutor — email@example.com — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at Twitter.com/PTutor_Star.