I’m Not Dead Yet and Other Affordable Care Acts


/Beth Wareham

Whenever I get kicked off my insurance, I sigh with relief and think “well, I won’t die this week.” You see, I am so loathe to jack with anything that has to do with healthcare or health insurance, it has become a kind of tiny death. And I ain’t talking Freud’s FABULOUS little death. Give me that one any day.

I have to have cancer surgery about every 2 years. Don’t get excited. It’s small potatoes. It simply maintains clarity of cells and gets rid of cells that look, well, un-prom worthy. The last time I had this surgery was at a fancy midtown New York Hospital.

My surgeon was a beautiful young doctor who entered the room with an equally beautiful nurse. Nothing would hurt: I’d just be uncomfortable. The surgeon would guide the instrument and the nurse would run the electricity that flowed through it.

We began. Nothing was out of the ordinary until the surgeon stood up, leaned forward and began pressing her instrument harder into my flesh. Suddenly, the door swung open and the curtain jerked back.

“What’s that smell?” a doctor yelled.

“It’s her,” both doctor and nurse said in unison, heads jerking toward me.

‘Oh,” he said and retreated.

The surgeon said, “we need more juice.”

I expected her to yell “I’m at maximum power now, Captain! She can’t take much more! She’s breaking up!” but she merely moved the dial higher.

I really didn’t feel any pain, just fascination. The burning smell grew stronger in the tiny room as they finished up in about 30 seconds.

I thanked my tormentors – what great shoes on the surgeon! – and left. The hospital demanded I follow up with them tomorrow. I tried and they moved the appointment 4 months into the future.

It was after this event I decided to become more of a PREVENTER of disease: Having something wrong with you was just too embarrassing. WHAT’S THAT SMELL? now haunts me along with WHO’S THE FAT GIRL?

I began going to a gym. A small fancy one. I pounded that cement floor and those machines four times a week. I rode up and down hills, never going anywhere but on ego trips with the owner. I worked and worked and pinched a nerve in my neck lifting weight far too heavy for me. Acupuncture made it feel better for a couple hours. A chiropractor tried to pull a muscle off my rib cage in attempts at relieving the pressure on the nerve.

I fled. After 4 months of agony, I googled a rehab video for pinched neck nerves and cured myself in 2 days.

Two nights ago, I dangled backwards off the bed and when I came upright, I felt my fourth toe for the first time in 5 years.

What does it mean? I really don’t know. Perhaps we run to the doctor too fast, perhaps not fast enough. But I’m going back to yoga and meditation.

I NEVER have to go the doctor then.

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