The pursuit of as much life as you can afford…

Okay, people. I just want to point out one thing. Just ONE thing. Even before “Obamacare,” we were ALL paying for healthcare for every citizen. It is called the Free Care Pool.

Every state has one. This pool is funded by OUR tax dollars. The pool is distributed among hospitals in the the state to help them offset the costs of caring for people who cannot afford to pay who come to the emergency room – whether it is with a child who has the flu or an acute medical crisis (that could have been avoided by cheaper regular care such as doctor’s visits and medication, but we don’t want the cheaper option because that’s Socialist? Damn, I thought us Capitalists were about getting the smartest deal possible, especially with tax dollars…anyway).

So, this Free Care Pool essentially provides healthcare for every single American should they show up at an emergency room with whatever, because by law, they cannot be turned down for care. Stupid human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The whole “life” part is apparently clearly overrated and needs to be edited to “whatever length of life you can afford.”

The Free Care Pool is TAX-funded. It’s national healthcare. And it’s a HUGE waste. HUGE. It’s like throwing Benjamins in a shredder for fun. You wanna talk fiscal reform and a tighter, leaner healthcare system? Let’s help people get early, regular medical care to deal with chronic conditions. Let’s *gasp, horror, shock* help children get proper medical care like vaccinations, flu shots, treatments for pneumonia, leukemia, etc.

Do you like me? Do you like having me around? Well, guess what, my life depends on my ability to have health insurance, because I have the mother of all pre-existing conditions. We make too much to qualify for medicaid, and too little to buy insurance on our own. I am one recession away from being in deep doodoo if I lose my insurance. Or at least I was until Mitt Romney gave Massachusetts universal health insurance.

And guess what? The Republicans in Massachusetts, despite having to live with the shame of being in a state where everyone can afford healthcare insurance, are still alive, still enjoying family, food, drinks, Red Sox, Bruins, Pats, still employed, and not really worried about overturning Mitt’s legacy because it hasn’t destroyed our economy and left a nuclear wasteland of grey-uniformed communist zombies that eat tofu and hold hands (regardless of gender) and sing strange songs with acoustic guitars.

Basically, we are going to have universal health insurance one way or another. We can do it the stupid, wasteful Free Care Pool way, or we can do it the financially and ethically responsible way through the Affordable Care Act.

And…I need to switch to decaf.

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In the emergency room in North Carolina, trying to be cheerful at the diagnosis and of an infection.

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It’s all fun and games until someone hits an artery…

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So, went in for bloodwork today for something totally un-kidney related. But hey, I’m a pro, so when I go to a different blood lab in the hospital, I politely let them know that if they have trouble getting something in my arms, they are welcome to use my hands.

Yes, it has gotten to the point where my veins are pretty scarred in my arms and getting a clean stick for a blood draw the first time is harder and harder. By now, I prefer that people use my hands if at all possible rather than stick me one and dig around or multiple sticks. Everyone says, “Oh, it hurts much more in your hand!” However, I find that it’s really not that much more painful, and a clean first stick is much LESS painful than multiple pokings and proddings.

Anyway. It’s just one tube, and I know that my hands can provide. However, the nurse finds a nice, big juicy blue vein in my arm. For a moment, I’m suspicious because I’m pretty sure I don’t have a nice, big, juicy blue vein in my arm that is usable. Then, my natural optimism asserts itself, and I think today could be my lucky day. I may have just experienced a miracle of spontaneous vascular generation. Or something.

The draw is quick, easy and painless, thanks to El Magnifico – what I’m calling this newfound mega-font of a vein. They pop a little circular bandaid on it, I get up thank them, and go on my merry way.

I step out of the elevator on the ground floor, and suddenly, I’m aware of people looking at me, horrified, and a warmish wet feeling on my arm and hand. I look down, and sure enough, El Magnifico is pulsing blood like I’ve never seen before.

It’s everywhere. Flip flops, arms, feet, hands, parking ticket. I’m not squeamish, so the sight of it doesn’t bother me. However, I’m pretty sure I need to stop this bleeding because there is no need to panic the general public.

I put my fingers on the spot and the circle bandaid slips off. I apply pressure, and the blood is still pumping out. I walk calmly to the information desk and begin pulling out handfuls of tissues from the box on the counter.

“Excuse me,” I say politely and calmly to the man there, stuffing tissues into the crook of my arm. “I need gauze, tape and alcohol swabs.”

The man looks at me, startled and says, “You should put pressure on that!”

Time slows to a Guy Ritchie-esque thought speed as if to milk the Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque moment.

I look at him. He looks back at me. I raise my eyebrows. He pulls out two bandaids.

“That’s all I got. Sorry.”

“It’ll have to do.”

“Ladies’ room around the corner.”

I contemplate the distance and wonder if I will need to stop and sit in the chairs halfway. I’m starting to feel woozy and a little nauseous. I decide to just make a run for it. The ladies’ room is closed for cleaning but the cleaner steps out to return the mop to his cart and I duck under the “Closed for Cleaning” flag like a Bostonian gunning a yellow light.

Finally, I have access to soap, water and paper towels. And, I have two bandaids.

And, it turns out, I have a crazy talent for doing one-handed pressure bandages with paper towels and bandaids. Am so MacGyver.

Yes, I took a picture. Wouldn’t you???

Finally, I am clean and hopefully thoroughly disinfected with enough Calstat that my nostrils are burning. I’m still a little shaky, but I make a mental deal that I can give into any heaves and sweats when I get to the car. I go to pay my slightly damp parking ticket (I tried to disinfect it since someone else was going to have to touch it). The man takes my ticket and debit card. He hits a button, looks surprised, then sheepish.

“Ma’am, I am so sorry, but I think I just processed the transaction as cash. Do you mind paying in cash?”

Time slows down again.

“I don’t have any cash on me.”

“Could you go to the ATM right over there? Otherwise I’ll be short in my cash drawer.”

I give the man my slowest, sweetest smile – the one that comes just before the crazy eyes.

I hum a little as I get in the elevator, clutching my debit receipt and parking ticket to me.

Today wasn’t all bad…

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The Sunday Night Routine

The Sunday Night Routine

It only takes about 10 minutes, and I don’t have any hangups about taking my meds. But, for some reason, I dislike the tediousness of measuring out my meds for the week.

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I think it’s hot, personally.

I think it's hot, personally.

This is my scar from the transplant. It goes on for another 3 inches below the waistline. 10 inches total.

It’s summer, which means it’s time for the beach: Newport, Winthrop, Nahunt, Emerald Isle. It means it’s also time to break out the bikinis. I don’t have a perfect bikini body, but they’re comfortable, and I get way too hot in one-pieces.

Plus, how else am I going to show off my scar? I love this thing. I’m so proud of it, and I think it’s hot, personally. To me, it’s tough, badass, vulnerable, fragile and enduring all in one…and you have to get me in a bikini, my underwear or naked to see it. So yeah, it’s hot.

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Mom and Me

Mom and Me

I’ve mentioned my Dad before, but not my Mom. Dad taught me the beauty of grace and pragmatism in the face of chronic illness. But, Mom taught me the beauty and grace of words.

She was (and continues to be) the fiercest champion of my writing, the most demanding editor, and the endless sounding board for any and all ideas.

She was the one who encouraged my story telling as a toddler when I would chatter on about the squirrels and birds living together in the trees. She was the one who spent countless hours in the library helping me pick books. She was the one who walked me through the neighborhood after school every day – rain or shine, sun or snow – and let me blow off steam about my difficulties at school and then slip into the refuge of my imagination.

We have been through tough times together, and we were a flimsy raft of two after Dad died. Time has passed, though, and life has taken on it’s “new normal” with new hopes, fears, dimensions and insight.

Mom and I have found a new place as mother-daughter, women, friends and survivors. I may still hate shopping, and she isn’t that interested in cooking, but I’ll always go with her, and she’ll always eat what I prepare. And then, we’ll laugh.

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Constant Companion

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This is my medical alert bracelet. It never comes off. It went on after my surgery and has been on (except for other surgeries) ever since. I forget it’s there most of the time. I even forgot I was wearing it when I got married and you can see it clearly in my wedding photos.

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This is the second one I’ve had. I had to upgrade the size of the tag because I had to add more deadly medication allergies. I had to go with the smallest men’s tag I could find. But I still only have a 6-inch wrist. So the tag is almost bigger than my wrist, and I have to wear the bracelet chain tight in order to keep it flipping around.

First world transplant problems. Clearly.

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Memorial Day Memory Problems

Memorial Day Memory Problems

Post-weekend disorientation: Going to my pill dispenser and trying to figure out why for the life of me the Monday night compartment was empty when it was only Monday morning and I hadn’t taken any of my Monday meds yet. Then, I remembered it was Tuesday. And there was clarity. And relief. And then, a lot of coffee (with my meds).

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