Wednesday, August 26, 2009
His Wild Card says Universal, Single-payer, NOW!
My father died last year. And then he didn't die. He is such a tough bastard, it was hard to imagine anything could ever kill him. I'd certainly spent many an impassioned moment trying to will him into oblivion. And he spent decades "scandalizing my name". When possible, I returned the favor.
Last year, a knee replacement turned into a hospital-acquired infection that took on every part of his body. I am serious about that -every part from stem to stern...head to toes. There were multiple surgeries-I lost count at 9, lots of times he was "almost dead", 3 sets of new knees, spinal abscesses debrided and discs collapsed, months of rehab, IV antibiotic therapy we had to manage at home, cath bags I got to carry everywhere and change, wheel chairs, physical and occupational therapy. You know, the shit no one tells you you will be doing all day once your kids leave for college.
My father is a very busy, opinionated, intelligent, hard-working man. He climbs mountains, cross country skis, does search and rescue stuff with Marines. He does not have much talent for sitting still or being unwell. My brothers and I each spent weeks as his carers. This was all the more challenging because he chooses to live a thousand miles from any of us. It was a humbling experience for everyone. It taught me that no matter how many issues I thought I had with the man, he is my Daddy, he has a ferocious will to live, and I love him. All the "baggage", all the dumb-ass stuff he has done and will (hallelujah!) do became meaningless in the face of his being permanently gone.
Forgive me. I know it is getting a bit sentimental. I have a point. Just bear with me dear reader. I know this is sort of "illness as blessing" cliche claptrap. You have heard it before. But honestly, it truly was, in so many ways, a gift to me to be so intimately reconnected with him, to care for him, to advocate for him when he could not do so for himself. A very painful and exhausting and life-changing gift. That staph infection was able to kill his toe nail fungus, but it could not whip him. It tried hard. He is a seriously tough mofo. He is back to hiking, climbing things, watching for fires on remote mountains for fun on his weekends, and working full time as a civil engineer. Feck you staph infection you rat bastard!
I bring this up for 2 reasons. First, my obnoxious father would be dead if he did not have the finest health insurance and the ability to write $20, 000.00 checks every time that finest health insurer wouldn't pony up the money required for LIFESAVING treatment. Either one without the other and he'd be my "late and obnoxious" father. He was in the ICU, looking and acting like a dead man, and the Blues were micromanaging every freakin' step his highly skilled team of physicians tried to take...many of these steps the Blues felt were beyond the terms of his very comprehensive policy. We, his team, did not. But what do we know? The piece de resistance (shout out to the French because you will be hosting said obnoxious, wine-seeking father next spring!) - his INSURERS- were expecting him to negotiate the finer points of saving his own life whilst being completely unable to communicate. Or maintain a blood pressure. Essentially, they had amortized my father and found that it was time to write him off entirely. Crap. Just when I'd found out he was such a terrific deal! WTF?
Here I want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to Advance Directives. I am telling you loud and proud...get one and put it in the proper hands. Let those highly educated offspring write checks on your behalf with your power of attorney. Let them speak with authority and act as you wish them to. It can save your life or ease your leaving - whichever you choose - not some "death panel" despite what fools scream at town hall meetings. I've seen it happen. I applied said advanced directives myself (lots- o- times baby!It was a breeze after the first go) to a very scary situmacado and it worked a charm! Then he survived and I had to give 'em back. Happily, I still have that "unplug the bugger" card to play!
So, to those of you out there who are happy with your health insurance I say, "Hi Dumb-ass, happy your meds have kicked in." and "So was my father." I am here to tell you (yes I know I say that a lot-I got it from my father), and thankfully so is he, that if he were not a rich, white dude, he would have been a highly insured dead man. I'm serious about this and everyone in their right mind is as well. Something has got to give. Even if our political "leaders" (who are the best money can buy!where oh where is that change I can believe in Mr. President?) are unwilling, the current system is unsustainable. And my child and theirs and even yours will know health security one day. Because we are Americans. We are not animals.
And secondly, tonight my father told me that of all his legions of children he always thinks of me as his wild card. "The other 3 are fairly predictable. Whatcha see is whatcha get," he says, "but not you". "Could be a couple of deuces. Could be a full house. You just never know."
How feckin' awesome is that?!
As his only biological daughter (which is a bio-hazard kind of deal and mentioned only to indicate that he has another daughter who is free of his genes and, therefore, a superior specimen), I can't adequately express how delightful that statement is to me. Just beautiful. One of the nicest things he has ever said to me. Thanks Daddy. And thank you for teaching me to swear when I was a toddler. That has provided me with years of entertainment just watching my lovely mother turn pink.
So, dear reader Red Tara I conclude -can you believe it- and I thank you for the link to http://twitter.com/shitmydadsays. I am so happy my Dad can say shit to me too.