Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Latest From Death's Door

As I reported earlier this week, I have managed to acquire this flu bug that is going around. Today marks the first time since Saturday night that I have not run a fever of at least 100. ( Actually, I spoke too soon. I just took my temperature. I am running a fever again. Dammit.) I can see how this shit can kill an elderly person or someone whose health status is comprimised. This is easily the sickest I have been in years. Even though I seem to be on the downhill side of this, I have no energy and my muscles are killing me. Even my hips hurt. My hips have never hurt before in my life. My friend who is doing chemo sent an e-mail wanting to know if I could do lunch today. I was afraid to reply for fear of infecting him over the Internet. No, this is a bad one. No two ways about it.

However, I also consider myself, in a very real sense, to be extremely fortunate. I was able to get meds sent over when I first suspected that I was coming down with something more serious than an allergy attack. My co-pay was 18 dollars. The portion paid by my insurance was 53. 75 bucks for 5 days worth of pills! What does a poor person do? For that matter what does an elderly person with Medicare prescription drug coverage do when if they get sick while they are in the so-called "doughnut hole": the period after early coverage where the beneficiary has to pay 100% for a period of time before coverage kicks back in? The flu will kill an elderly person. It seems to me to be one hell of a screwed up system that causes a person on a fixed income to choose between paying for food and getting the medication they need.

My brother Bob is doing clinicals for a Masters in Nursing with a physician in the Conway area. He says that this doctor, who Bob describes as a kind and caring physician, is constantly forced to prescribe drugs he thinks a particular patient can afford instead of what he thinks will work the best. Bob says he sees this every day.

And guess what? The strain on the system will only get worse once the baby boomer generation starts retiring and more people are supported by fewer wage earners.

Me, I'm lucky. I've got good insurance that I can carry with me when I retire. As bad as I feel now I know I will be better soon. But can't we do better by the folks that brought us into this world?

I went to the bookstore this morning to get some magazines. The lady at the counter asked me if I was sick. When I told her I was, she said that she thought so because she hadn't seen me running in the neighborhood. I told her that my goal was to walk to the church and back tomorrow.

Me, I'm lucky. That's the biggest problem I have. That and my hips hurt.

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