Just Imagine

November 15th, 2018

Incoming Governor Lee is said to be what’s known in these parts as “an upstanding Christian.” He’s also said to be against accepting aid long-offered to the least of us.

Like all of us, he has some work to do.

As published in The Daily Memphian, November 16, 2018

Just Imagine


I’m feeling better, thanks.

It all started more than two years ago with a little yip in my giddy-up and proceeded up and down both legs in pain levels measured from 1 to 10 – 1 being that yip and 10 being OMG if I move at all I'll never stop screaming – settling on a constant 4 to 6. There’s a precious little chart in examining rooms with those pain levels illustrated by smiley and frowny faces. Every time I see one of those, I go up a level. A year and a half or so of this odyssey was with the bone folks, including tubing in an MRI, two nerve blocks and a bunch of physical therapy, and then I moved on to the spine folks, a much noisier MRI, two more nerve blocks, and, finally last week, spine surgery.

Just imagine.

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago sitting in yet another doctor’s waiting room to get yet more blood tests preceding surgery. Right after pouring out 12 vials of blood for those last week. Right after filling out yet another ream of badly-copied forms, a couple hundred “yes” and “no” checks about the myriad options of general human malaise. Right after doing all of that for the doctor who sent me here, right after doing all of that for the doctor who sent me there the week before that. Long after doing all of that over and over for the doctor who started all of this. These people really have to start talking to each other. Counting the 18 vials on this visit and the three I chipped in right before surgery, I’m 33 vials in. I’ve been tested more than the entire Russian Olympic team, but that’s a low bar.

Just imagine. Just imagine if I didn’t have insurance.

You think I’ve been complaining up to now. Not at all. Following last week and with all that time in waiting rooms to think about it, I’m immensely thankful for the care I’ve been given, and incredibly aware of the privilege inherent in that care because of the insurance I have. All those tests. All those tours of beautiful tree-lined medical campuses in east Memphis, Germantown and Collierville. The instructions to surgery included, and I’m not making this up – “after valet parking under the awning, turn right inside past the Starbucks to ambulatory surgery.”

Just imagine, if I hadn’t been able to pay for insurance all these years so I could live long enough to get Medicare.

Just imagine if I was working two jobs with that kind of pain still underinsured or without insurance at all, still under the poverty level, but not far enough under to get Medicaid.

Just imagine living in our state where 300,000 or so of our fellow working citizens are still denied Medicaid so somebody can make some kind of sad, sadistic political point, so we can be among national leaders in rural hospital closures and increased pain for our poor, so our federal tax dollars can provide that kind of life-saving help to 36 other states by not our own. 

Of course we have an opioid crisis in Tennessee, because even if our uninsured can get to an ER, they’re going to be given pain pills and sent home because that ER is overwhelmed, or they’re going to get some any way they can to make it all go away. Of course we’re unhealthy and fat, because we’re not only denied preventive care but any care at all.

Just imagine that. In 2018. In Tennessee.

I’m a Memphian and I’m feeling better, thanks. My state, not so much.

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