Mortality at the doctor’s office

Mortality is a funny thing.  Awareness of it comes in brief flashes, at random times throughout our lives.  It can often come at what may at first seem like such an inopportune time, but is more likely to be right when needed.  One such moment happened for me the other day when I had a preliminary sleep test done.  Turns out I am having an event about every 4 minutes while I sleep where my O2 levels drop and my average oxygen amount is on the low-end of what doctors want.  So it’s off for more tests to see about an official diagnosis this week.

Now, I have to follow this up by saying that I dislike doctors, I hate hospitals and clinics, and am just generally unhappy with the medical profession.  This is nothing personal against the number of heroic and wonderful people who willingly give care to millions of people each and every day.  And when I am in to see them I try to be the best behaved patient they meet for that day.  But in part because of having spent many…MANY days and nights dealing with chronic health issues for years and years, I am increasingly leery as I get older, of going in to see a doctor for anything.

But back to this test…

As I was reading up online (actual reputable places like WebMD, etc), I began to realize just how easy it would be for me to not wake up sometime and why my doctor was so insistent that I get this test done.  I called him back to set up the follow-up so here we are.  But it made me wonder about my life, will I be here for when Boo gets married, for when D gets hitched?  How many more years do I have and more importantly, what am I doing with them?  When Boo asks for my attention, did I really give it to her?  Did I play and focus on creating memories and stories that will last long past the time I’m gone?  When D calls or texts, have I done enough to show D how I feel and how proud I AM of the good things D has done in life?

It also made me think about my father, who also has breathing problems (he’s got a CPAP, although it’s not helping as much as we’d like) and the fact that he turns 72 in just a few months.  I honestly am not sure what to do without him in my life and I don’t even like thinking about it.  My mother is 68, so it’s not like either one of them is a spring chicken anymore.  But there is something terrifying I think when you think about losing your parents.  Even more so than when considering losing your grandparents, which I have done years ago.  It’s that lack of a buffer between you and the end.  That creeping sense of the grains of sand leeching through the hour-glass.  Am I ready to deal with the world without their guidance and sure hand helping me?  Have I told them everything I want them to know?  What about the questions I still haven’t found the answers to (most notably, at what point do you finally figure out this whole “growing-up” thing?)?

This is not to say that I am suddenly in a panic, desperately trying to flee from whatever happens.  I’m not.  My faith helps me feel secure in what comes after, and I am trying to improve the quality of the time AS WELL AS the quantity of time I spend with people, but it’s just been weighing on me more lately, as I reconsider my words, my actions and the priorities of my time.  I want everyone I come in contact with to feel the love of the creator, to understand that they are precious and that this gift we call life is fragile and fleeting…but also that it is vibrant and strong.

I needed this.  My father used to tell a story when he was preaching (yeah, he was a minister too), about a mule that would do anything you asked…but first you had to hit it with a 2×4 to get its attention.  It was a metaphor he used to talk about our relationship to God, the world and each other.  And Lord knows I have spent plenty of days wandering around without purpose or focus or otherwise knowing what I was doing and not appreciating what was around me.  I have had many 2×4 moments in my life.  This was another one.

I hope the time I am given is being well-spent.

I hope you know that whether we have been friends for years, are casual acquaintances or strangers new met, that I look forward to knowing more about you and hope nothing but the best for you.

I hope the Creator blesses you to be a blessing upon creation, in whatever form or fashion that takes.

I hope you know that you are loved.

Daddy Manifesto #….? who cares it’s all about the medicine baby…

Whenever I hear someone talk about health benefits, Obamacare, Insurance, this is mostly how I feel:

Health 1

Making Social Security solvent – Personally I would like more information on this before I make a judgment on it.  I can say two things for sure however.  The first is, that I am okay with raising the minimum age for which people qualify for benefits.  We are living longer as a people than we did when this act was first passed.  Realizing that, and realizing that there will still need to be accommodations for specific circumstances, would help the program enjoy more longevity than it currently faces.  Second, I am also okay with reducing the amount of benefit that people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars or more get.  Social Security was a safety net for people who had no other access to savings and retirement, and that is also no longer the case.  If, as a people, we want to reduce the amount of money that those people pay into Social Security as well as reduce their payments from it, that could also be the start of a discussion to improving Social Security.  But I am NOT in favor of privatizing it.

Reducing health care costs – Here too, I am not sure why this is so hard to do.  Other countries that have single payer health systems manage to keep their costs down significantly more than we do.  While we hear all the scare tactics and propaganda from the medical industries, I am unsure of the truth of the matter on this issue, in part because I am not sure that anybody, on either side of this issue, is really telling the truth.  I believe this in part because I think the truth is more complicated and more confusing than people think and it’s easier to either say “socialized medicine is evil” or “look what the evil medical companies are doing again.”  This is an issue I would like somebody to take and talk about in a more serious tone than I have heard thus far.

Making Medicare solvent – This is another of those issues that it seems really difficult to find some sort of sane and non-partisan information on.  If Medicare is truly close to becoming insolvent, then yes, solutions need to be found to prevent that from happening.  I like some of the ideas that I have heard, at least in theory, about redoing how Medicare is paid out, tying payments to patient outcomes (we do this for education so why not medicine, which is MUCH more measurable – i.e. are you healthier than you were six months ago or not?) and the like.  This is another of the social safety nets that I believe we need to keep in place to help protect both ourselves and our fellow human beings.  As a Christian, I feel it is part of my duty to help the sick, feed the hungry, etc.  “Protecting” my money was never a part of that list.