Chemotherapy is an adventure.
Of course there’s the process of getting several poisons dripped into your vein, but that’s just the beginning. There’s the part where you’re too exhausted to sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. There’s the part where everything that’s hollow is sore, so pretty much any bodily function that you think of as in your insides hurts. There are rashes and aches and cramps. There’s being glad that you’re alone at times, because whimpering is awfully unattractive, but, oddly, it helps. There’s the part where you’re so anemic that you think there ought to be a summit register at the end of your block, or you're wearing leg weights that you can't take off. In the case of breast cancer, you go back for four rounds, sinking a bit lower with each one. And as with any adventure, of course, the outcome is uncertain.
But in America, we go for the gusto. Here, even if you are insured, you can have the truly special experience of hauling your ass off the couch to open the mail and face threatening letters from the business offices of the doctors and hospitals that provided the early part of your treatment, the same doctors and hospitals you’ll be depending on for the next phase.
You have to hand it to the American health insurance industry. If you’re going to intensify an experience that already includes pain, nausea, fatigue and reminders of mortality, you have to aim straight for the Maslow hierarchy. And they score a direct hit.
But seriously… it really is about health INSURANCE reform. Before we do that, the rest is distraction. "Hey, look over there, it's the fee-for-service system!" "How 'bout that end-of-life care?" "Ooh, primary care providers are underpaid." And the oldest and worst: "Tort reform! Tort reform!" True, a whole lot of things could be better, but if we don’t fix the insurance system, it will continue to devour health care resources, and our humanity, like a neglected tumor.
And, that said, I'm all for giving the insurance companies and the Republicans all the slack they can reel out. When we pass something that makes people’s lives better, they will be in free fall.
Works for me.