One of the reasons I’m writing this—the main reason—is that setting and achieving small objectives keeps me going. I’m looking at waits for over a month to have further testing, the results of which will determine what surgery I will have weeks or months after that. Meanwhile, I self-catheter three or four times a day and try not to make too many wild guesses about precisely what this or that member of the medical establishment meant by this or that casual remark or rapid-fire, jargonal answer. And if I dare to seek further enlightenment by calling a number, I push one of several buttons, leave a message, wait two or three days for a response, and… and find myself left with more questions than ever.
Don’t talk to me about the evils of socialized medicine. For nobodies like me, the nightmare is already here. Thanks to ambulance-chasing lawsuits, Obama-era paperwork, and open admission for the Third World diaspora, many of us already no longer have timely access to treatment: the docs who haven’t retired are absurdly over-extended. I’m trying not to hate, loathe, and despise doctors personally, though it’s hard when “specialists” work four-day weeks and so clearly love to dash off prescriptions that turn into a horror show if you research their side-effects. (Or if you actually use them. So far I’ve tried two of these made-in-Chinas for a total of four days: sever headache, dizziness, and nausea in both cases… no thanks.)
I know I’m aging. I do get that. Death isn’t too far away, and it comes to everyone. Maybe I still have a couple of decades, maybe not. His will be done. Just spare me, will you, the talk about the miraculous progress of our technology. “Jesus is coming to your neighborhood… in six months. Reserve a space along the road to touch his hem at nine-fifty on the last Thursday of August by pressing One now. Admission subject to revised CoronaVirus protocol.”
Ah, yes. COVID-19. I’d take the virus hands-down over my current situation. I’ve had flu before. I almost died of a particularly virulent strain when, in my mid-twenties, I was stuck in Ireland and unable to receive my monthly check from home due to a nation-wide postal strike (speaking of socialist utopias). Living on one meal a day, I made an easy target for opportunistic infections; and Western European populations of older people and other compromised groups did indeed die in the winter of 1981 by the hundreds (or probably the thousands). So I know the flu, from its worst angle. I’d take it over this: no-brainer. But, of course, I’m not being given that choice.
Now I’m reading that hospitals may throttle back on “non-essential surgeries” until the Awful Horror swaggers through our streets and wanders elsewhere. With my stock of trusty self-catheterizing rods (and they do elicit a certain affection, seriously: they’re the only friends I have, besides my sainted wife), I suppose I could go on for… I dunno; whatever time a sixty-six-year-old is supposed to have left. And it’s somewhat comforting, in an odd way, to know that as I tend my garden or make my baseball videos, my radiator is actually better drained than it has been in over a decade. Thank you, thank you, o Twenty-First Century, for self-catheterization kits!
But for doctors, medicine, the “health care system”… no, you can keep all that. Keep it for the people who matter—and throw in a barbed-wire enema for them all, from me.
Again, as for the CoronaVirus—the latest best alternative to another impeachment trial, a new strategy that the Donald played right into for months by blasting and blaring away about unprecedented economic prosperity—yeah, stick that up your pipe and smoke it, too. For about two decades, we as a society have smugly, stupidly, utterly ignored warnings about our power grid’s vulnerability. Part of the reason was that many of our subversive representatives (including a two-term president) actually liked the idea of priming the nation to be instantly brought to its knees by an enemy. Immediate checkmate. But even these traitor-ideologues were too foolish to comprehend that major solar flares occur quite naturally on a timetable that we don’t fully understand, but that seems to leave us long overdue for another visit. And the consequences of that visit would purge nine out of ten inhabitants of North America within a year.
But let’s not mention the unsecured power grid—or let’s just rule its risks “debunked”. Let’s rave hysterically, instead, about COVID-19. Round-the-clock coverage of the non-story, the apocalyptic pandemic that will kill one in five of us (figures courtesy of talking heads who calculated that Bloomberg’s campaign expenses, divvied up, would have meant a cool million for each of us)… babble and blather every bloody time you walk through a room with a plugged-in TV. “Stay home! Wash your hands! Drink more sanitizer! Build a protective suit of toilet paper!”
I’d so like to have the flu instead of be walking my present path. Any flu would do. But I haven’t been given the option of wimping out.
So I’ll send the ramrod up the rifle’s bore one more time, order some more catheters just in case Amazon decides to hunker down under the shadow of Thanatos next month, and go fence the deer out of my new almond trees.
When I pass through the gate at last, I’ll find my grandmother, and we’ll share a good laugh about all of this… or maybe not. My suspicion—my hope, my conviction—is that we’ll have far more beautiful, noble, glorious things to occupy our attention than American society of the twenty-first century.