Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Terminal Discount

We all like discounts. We love getting a special price or special treatment. Somehow, given my condition and prognosis, I feel like I should get some really good deals. It seems to me there should be some compassion in the business world and government for people like me. It's just a matter of fairness. But life isn't fair, as I know all too well.

I know that nobody wants to hear this, but the fact is that I have a terminal illness. Barring a miracle or a natural cure, I won't be here a few years from now. I can't help but see everything in that light these days.

I didn't intend for the sharp rise in my PSA from 2.7 to 4.77 in four weeks to be the headline of my last post, but among my cancer brothers and sisters, that news was met with near-unanimous dismay. That kind of rise is what we all fear. I have hope that the Xtandi horse pills I'm taking will push the number back down for a while, but we'll see.

Things like senior discounts bother me now. When I turned 60, I relished the thought that I was only five years away from being able to get the senior discount at movies, our favorite state park, and many other places. But when I see those discounts now, and realize I probably will never live to use them, I feel like there should be a discount for people like me. People who aren't expected to live to age 65. I call it the Terminal Discount.

But how would I get that discount? Show my Terminal Card? There's no such thing. I wish there were. I'd use that card whenever I thought it would help. I've already tried to use it, and I don't even have one.

Of course, I'm trying to push that terminal date as far in the future as I can. I'll begin a new treatment this week, which I will talk about in depth in my next post. I hope with all of my heart that I'm not as terminal as standard Western medicine says I am. I believe in a God who can extend my life for as long as he sees fit. But Regal Cinemas don't know that. Neither does the U.S. government, the State of Colorado, Apple, nor the company that repaired our boiler last week. I should be able to show them my Terminal Card and get a sweetheart deal. Shouldn't I?

We've needed to heat our house this week for the first time this season. Our house has a boiler, rather than a furnace. The boiler was running, and the thermostats were set, but the thermostats weren't triggering the boiler to fire up and heat our home. I called a local company to come and fix the problem. The problem was fixed, but at a high price. When the company called later that day to ask if I was satisfied, I tried to play the Terminal Card. I asked if they had a senior discount, and they said they did. I told them my condition, and our financial situation, but the most they were willing to do was knock sixty dollars off a bill that was nearly a thousand dollars. And that was with a coupon for a hundred dollars off.

I'm a longtime Mac user and Apple enthusiast. I have an old Mac in my recording studio, because I still use old music software that isn't available for operating systems newer than the one I'm using. I'm writing this post on that 2006 Mac Pro tower now. I'll only need to use it for a few more months, until my last CD project is finished next spring. Then, when I sell my recording equipment, I can get a new MacBook that will be my main computer. I won't need a desktop tower anymore.

But I unknowingly threw a monkey wrench into that plan when I updated my iPhone to iOS 10. It was only after updating my phone that I learned that iOS 10 is incompatible with the operating system I'm using on my old Mac. I can't update this machine to an operating system high enough to sync with my phone. So now, I can't transfer photos to my computer or sync with iTunes.

Apple has a long history of doing this to users of old devices as a way of forcing us to buy new stuff. I used to shrug it off, but not anymore. It seems unfair to those who can't afford a new computer. We shouldn't be forced to buy one to do basic things like transfer photos. Especially when there was no warning whatsoever that updating my phone would cause this problem. So I called Apple.

I spoke to a very kind, compassionate person who tried her best to help me. But there was no help available. I told her my situation. Surely there's a program to provide free MacBooks to the terminally ill! Not so much. Not even a Terminal Discount. So, I'm stuck not being able to take pictures with my iPhone, which is my main camera, because I can't transfer them to my computer. I don't want to store them in iCloud. I don't trust iCloud. First World problems, I know.

Then there's the matter of my Social Security benefits. According to the U.S, government's actuarial tables, I won't live long enough to receive all of the benefits I have coming. I've paid into Social Security my whole working life. That should be my money. In a case like mine, I should have the option of collecting all of the money I've paid in. I'll take it in a lump sum, thank you very much. Wouldn't that be nice? I've tried to use humor in this post, but that idea is real comedy.

I think this should apply to everyone with a terminal illness, regardless of age. If you're not expected to live long enough to get the benefits of old age, you should get those benefits now, whether it's as big as a lump sum from the government or as small as a discounted movie ticket. It should be a matter of policy for both the private and public sectors. Just my opinion.

But while it's unrealistic to expect compassion from large institutions, it overflows from people. Government may not care, but people do. Multinational corporations may not have consideration for the terminally ill the way they do for seniors, but love from family and friends is there without conditions. We may have had to bite the bullet to repair our boiler, but we know that God will supply our needs. But I still wish I could whip out my Terminal Card at the Apple store. #waroncancer


  1. I agree. I don't have a problem with this post at all, Mark. It's funny. It's wry. It's also true. There should be a terminal discount.

  2. When you talk about your PSA rising from 2 something to 4.77 in a month, that's certainly alarming. However, if it helps, in the same period, mine rose from 126 to 189. Not quite the doubling that yours did, but high enough to know the chemo (Taxotere) is not working.