A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why I Am a Socialist

Today is a solemn anniversary for the country, but it's also an anniversary for me -- one that brings a mixture of emotions. A year ago this morning, I woke up with a headache and a curious gap in my eyesight. Several hours later, I was in the Stanford Hospital emergency room -- not a place you ever want to be -- and beginning a series of tests. The essential details of my experience are here, here, here, and here.

A year later, I'm about as back to normal as one ever gets from an experience like that. I still gulp a handful of pills (two antibiotics and a B6 tablet to counteract their side effects) every morning, just to be on the safe side. But I'm as active as I ever was (which is not very), don't tire as easily as I did a couple of months ago, and my eyesight has only a slight glitch in it. (Hard to describe. It's kind of like a little wrinkle in the peripheral vision. When I'm driving -- and yes, I drive carefully -- I have to keep scanning leftward because oncoming traffic sometimes disappears into the wrinkle.)

We still don't know what caused the abscess in my brain. It may have been tuberculosis (though I once doubted it) or nocardia. Whatever it was, the treatments -- the round-the-clock IVs, followed by the daily trip to outpatient infusion, followed by the pills -- seem to have worked. Well, one would hope three weeks in hospital, followed by two months in a nursing home, followed by nine months of medication would do something.

But the good thing is that all of this -- tens of thousands of dollars of surgery, doctor visits, MRIs, CTs, endoscopies, broncoscopies, nursing care, rehab therapy, IVs and infusions and pills -- was covered by my insurance: Medicare and an AARP supplemental policy. I'm a happy senior citizen, one who knows that he has benefited from a government program. I'm also aware that I have been paying for it for years through payroll deduction, and am still paying for it in smallish (by comparison with private insurance) monthly premiums.

Oh, sure, I have some gripes about Medicare, but they're minor ones. (For one thing, I could have had my round-the-clock infusions at home instead of having to stay in the nursing home, but Medicare doesn't pay for home treatment -- even though, given the cost of meals and other institutional overhead, it would probably save them some money.) The point is, it works -- and works well.

Which is why I'm so ardent about health care reform and so intolerably annoyed by the sound and fury that has been generated by the attempts to bring it about. Everyone deserves the kind of care and attention I have gotten for the past year, and anyone who says otherwise is a damn fool.

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