That’s Just the Writer in Me.

An excerpt of a story about a middle-aged woman who visits her old college in an attempt to settle the obvious midlife crisis/crossroad she’s living through:

The coffee tastes like shit, yet I continue to drink it. Writing and coffee always went hand in hand. At least I no longer smoked. I visit the old college I attended when I was a fresh-faced eighteen year-old. Maybe it will help me become more creative as I sit in a place that reminds me of my younger days, when anything seemed possible.

One of the perks of writing here is the coffee costs 75 cents, a monster savings compared to Starbucks, but like I already said, the coffee tastes like shit and I’m on my fourth cup.

I’m sitting at one of the tables in the lounge. There is a young woman, maybe nineteen, at the table next to me, face deep in a text book. Her long hair is dark and carelessly messy, but in a stylish way. She looks like someone I would have had a crush on. She wears jeans with holes at the knees, a black graphic tee, leather studded boots that capped at her mid-calf. Kind of grungy (do kids today even know what grunge is?). Maybe she’s a bit rebellious in a dark, mysterious, Kristen Stewart, kind of a way.

Her attire shows she might be of the “alternative” lifestyle. I remember looking for that in girls I met at college in 1995 because I was incredibly desperate to meet girls who were like me. I expected everything to be so much broader than the restricted Catholic high school I went to, and in some ways they were, but probably not broad as I had wanted, or needed, them to be.

I wonder if what I’m experiencing is a mid-life crisis. I probably wouldn’t feel this way if I felt I had accomplished something in my life. The fact that I haven’t done anything depresses me.

Did I know I would do this? Did I know I was going to spend so much time looking back? I wonder if I’m capable of anything more with my life. It’s so hard making it as a writer and I fear I may not even be any good at it. (Pause. Takes another sip of coffee. Yep. Still tastes like shit, even more so now that it’s cold.)

Two girls sit on a couch across from me. They are very affectionate and playful toward each other, despite the fact I’m only a few feet away from them and another boy sits at a near-by table. But they don’t seem to notice either of us. I watch as people pass in the busy halls, and barely look at the two girls sitting closer, now holding hands.

Their interaction isn’t tacky, nor is it an in-your-face display of affection. The two girls appear to be in love, lucky to be living in a time when they could be like this in public. Definitely not something I would have expected to see when I walked these halls very frequently, 21 years ago – though I wish I had.

I think about leaving, but decide to stay. I watch. I write. I sip my bad coffee. I sit and observe other people, like a spectator in life.

I suppose that’s the writer in me.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

 

 

 

 

 

I am Scared…..Tremendously

I don’t work in the healthcare field. I’m not an expert in healthcare issues, but I am a person with health issues, and the way the healthcare system is set up in this country scares me – tremendously.

It was ten years ago when I became a “no longer healthy person”. Before that time, I went to doctors for mild reasons, in search of quick fixes to temporary, benign illnesses. I usually walked out of my doctor’s office with a prescription and 5-7 days later, I’d be back to normal. Healthy again. Living my life with the expectation I wouldn’t see my doctor again until another bug was caught, and another antibiotic prescribed.

Like many people who develop significant diseases spontaneously in the midst of their life, my pattern of going to doctors has changed. I no longer wait until my perfect health is temporarily hijacked by a nuisance bug to see a doctor. I am now on a schedule with my doctor. Every three to six months. Sooner, if I need. But no longer than six months. Got to be kept tabs on when your health is compromised in a, more than likely, permanent way.

Although I didn’t have much experience with doctors, and hospitals, and medical procedures when I was given my diagnosis, I was, however, very much aware of the term pre-existing conditions and its implication.

And it scared me – tremendously.

Luckily, I was working and had insurance. But I knew my disease was complicated enough that it may interfere with work. As doctors told me the treatment plan for my disease, the medications I must take, and all the procedures that were needed, I called my insurance company with a panicked heartbeat, praying everything I had to do was covered.

This scared me – tremendously.

Lucky for me, everything was covered. But that didn’t end my worry. What if I lost my job because I couldn’t do my work at the same level? I could never afford insurance on my own, and besides, no insurance would touch me because I now had a pre-existing condition.

I worried about  one day being without insurance, but having insurance didn’t stop my worry, either. Multiple hospital stays in the ICU for over two weeks each visit, racked up huge bills. My insurance paid everything minus the deductible, but I had a lifetime limit on my insurance of about five million dollars.

To a healthy person, that may seem like a lot. But when you’ve already spent over three hundred thousand dollars from hospital stays, and monthly treatment costs over twenty-thousand dollars, those millions go by fast. According to CNBC, in 2013 bankruptcies from unpaid medical bills was the number one cause of such filings. They also found “15 million people will deplete their savings to cover medical bills.” (CNBC) 

When Obamacare came out and ruled that insurance companies would no longer be able to discriminate against people with illnesses, and offer them coverage, I was morbidly relieved. I was assured that even if I lost my job for whatever reason, as well as the insurance benefits that came with it, I could be picked up by another insurer, despite my illness.

This was huge. I was no longer tremendously scared.

Not only did I no longer have to worry about being denied health coverage, thereby being left to die in the streets with no insurance, but President Obama also eliminated the lifetime limit. That was huge too, because hospitals charges are unfairly astronomical.

But now, insurance companies are pulling out of Obamacare because it seems covering sick people is just too darn expensive, and since the United States, the most powerful and developed country in the world, has a for-profit health industry, profit is the bottom line. Sick people be damned.

I’ve heard regular people, people who don’t work fancy jobs for insurance companies, talk about the situation as if it is perfectly normal. “Of course the insurance companies had to get out. They were losing hundreds of millions of dollars!”

Yes, let’s feel sorry for the insurance companies making billions of dollars in profit, as well as their CEO’s with their tens of millions in annual salary. These companies that are pulling out of Obamacare are still going to make billions of dollars in profit at the end of the year, but they may not make as much as they did back in the days when they only insured healthy people, while leaving the sick ones to fend for themselves or die.

For the first time insurance companies had to cover sick people and it cost them too much money, so now they’re out.

We should be outraged. Covering sick people in healthcare should be the norm. Where’s the healthcare in denying sick people coverage? The people at the top, filled with their greed, are laughing their asses off at the sheep we have become. Profit over people is a horribly immoral way to run a healthcare system.

I am, once again, scared – tremendously.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net