Monday, October 3, 2011

Apologies for Off Day; Have I Mentioned Withdrawal Sucks?

Let us see. Two, carry the one, divide by the sum of the....

Yep, Just hit 67 hours without sleep.

Methadone maintenance has served me well. I would have much rather taken a longer taper instead of the 10 day "um, you lost medical assistance, sorry" taper program I received, but the time had come to toss the crutch away. It actually makes a decent point in the current debate over health care in the United States. As a single male with only "drug dependance" as a medical issue, I would lose my government cheese medical benefits on the day I became employed. If I could muster up a psych diagnoses, I would be eligible for subsidized health insurance under the Medical Assistance for Disabled Workers program in my state, but alas, I am not a welfare fraud and not about to lie to a doctor about how depressed I am.

Methadone treatment, while I was employed, cost me 500$ a month. Roughly half of my take home, depending on tips of course. That is a lot less than an opiate addiction costs, I know. Believe me, I know, but still. I was referred to the clinic by one Doctor, who was backed up by both my PCP and a third opinion I decided to get. The clinic itself called me "a classic case of exactly who methadone is for. You are the client type we want to have here." I have forms upon forms stating that methadone is a "Life and Health Sustaining Medication" for me, yet once the failing economy touched me and I became unemployed, I went from 80mg a day to 0 in ten days.

Yes, I know. There are ways I could have played the system, but the reason I finally went on methadone was to stop living that life. It did its job, and no matter the discomfort I feel now, I was ready to get off the drug.

I did learn one very important lesson however; Don't get sick. As a single male, I am a persona non grata to government assistance. No matter the income, as soon as I am employed I am ineligible for every program. Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to live on the dole. Government cheese doesn't fuel my appetite. But how are the poor, the underclass, hell, the middle class without health insurance supposed to better their lives, to be productive, when one sustained illness can force bankruptcy? If I want to get an annual physical, which I should start doing as I am not getting any younger, then that money has to come out of either my food budget or my college fund. At least that I can plan for, what happens if I need an antibiotic? There goes at least one month of saving. FSM forbid I have an accident, or a long term illness, or need surgery. I have struggled for years to work on the debt I have without declaring bankruptcy. I have made many mistakes in my life, but I have taken responsibility for them and am trying to turn things around. I will have chronic health problems for the rest of my life, and it scares me that no matter what choices I make from now on, it's up to the roll of the dice whether I succeed or end up on disability. Cancer, heart disease, COPD, diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes all run in my family, and I haven't even mentioned any of the health problems I do have. What kind of a modern society makes health care a privilege, not a right?

For any one ready to pounce, ready to point out the obvious fact that I made my choices and now I am reaping what I have sown, fine. What about the countless uninsured children who are only guilty of being born poor? What of those struggling to escape poverty who are law abiding citizens? When I was 6 my appendix almost burst. If my parents wouldn't have had insurance, they could have been wiped out. When I was 23 I broke both of me feet in an accident. One of the benefits I had at the time was health insurance. I paid nothing for my treatment, and although I was only supposed to get 40 to 60% usage back, due to the quality of care I received I have over 95% of the usage I had before the accident. Although I have pain management issues, I can still go backpacking and hiking thanks to health insurance. Accidents happen to everyone, the drug addict and the teetotaler, the rich and the poor, the young and the old.

Health care is a right. It isn't socialism. You are being played by those who control the talking points.

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