Thursday, February 18, 2016

How We Got Here

I feel like I need to explain myself. How in the world did I let myself get into this predicament? Why was this caught so late? Especially when I knew very well what my family history and risk factors were? Here's the deal.

For most of my adult life, I have not had health insurance. First, as a young man, I worked for businesses that were too small to provide it. Then, when I started doing music full time in 1988, when I was 33, it was just too expensive to buy on the individual market. Still is, by the way. Besides, I was young, healthy, and indestructible. What did I need insurance for?

I actually think that since I've been lucky enough to have good health all my life (until now, that is), it was in some ways a positive thing that I didn't have insurance, because I didn't run to the doctor for antibiotics every time I had a sniffle. I really believe that antibiotics, if taken regularly over a course of years, defeats your body's ability to heal itself. So for the past 30 years or so, if I get a cold, I take echinacea, vitamin C, and zinc 4 times a day until I feel better, which is usually about 2-3 days, while my friends who've had health insurance and have been taking antibiotics for years have their coughs and colds hang on for weeks.

But colds aren't what you need insurance for. Insurance is for stuff like this. It wasn't until 2001, for one year, when we were making enough money that we felt like we could afford to buy health insurance for me through my wife's employer, I went to the doctor, got a checkup, and that's when I had my first PSA test. The next year, I had no insurance again. For the next 12 years, we went to a local health fair to get my bloodwork done, but I'll just say that even though my PSA rose incrementally every year, at no point did a doctor ever tell me that I needed to get a biopsy done. If one had, and if it was when I was making good money, we could have figured out a way to pay for it, even without insurance. But it kept getting let go until this year, when my PSA had jumped to 15.8, more than double what it was two years prior. So by the time I had a biopsy done, it was already inoperable.

So there was actually a very brief window of time when we had both the knowledge of what my PSA was, and the resources to deal with it. By the time the number was high enough to really start getting concerned, my income had dropped, and there was no way we could afford insurance or treatment. And until very recently, there were no such things as GoFundMe to help raise support.

I apologize if anyone is offended by what I'm about to say, but I need to inject a little bit of politics here. Thank God for Obamacare. If not for that, I would not have insurance now, and wouldn't be able to get it because of a pre-existing condition. I would not have gone in for my free checkup, and would know nothing of my disease. I'd be waiting to qualify for Medicare, and by then, it would be too late.

And I will go even farther. I really feel that the for-profit health care system that we have in the U.S. is immoral. As long as there's a profit motive to keep us sick and on drugs, that's an immoral system, in my opinion. I didn't go to the doctor because I was afraid of what it would cost. That's wrong. Nobody should have to feel that way. If I hadn't had to worry about the cost, I wouldn't be in this situation now. Simple as that. 'Nuff said.

But thankfully, I did eventually get insurance, even though we have a very high deductible, which is one reason why we need the GoFundMe campaign. I don't mean to say that the health care system is totally to blame. I could have been more proactive about it when I had the money to deal with the problem. I certainly bear some responsibility for missing that chance.

But it's all water under the bridge now. As my wise and wonderful sister once said, "Don't let the if-onlys get you." If only I had done this. If only that had happened. If only this or that had NOT happened. Regret is for losers. And though I'm gonna fight until I can't fight anymore, if this is it, I can honestly say I'm OK with this ending. I've had a wonderful life, and I'll be telling you about it in the days to come. I find myself counting my blessings more and more these days.

Please don't let the comments section of this post become a political argument. I just needed to get that off my chest.

Thanks again for checking in! See you tomorrow, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. #waroncancer

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