A bottle of pills [extended healthcare rant, part 2]

[Alright, this is a bit long, but do me the favor of reading it through, okay?]

There’s a bottle of pills sitting on my bookcase. Every night, I swallow one.

I asked once at the pharmacy how much it would cost me to fill the script. Their response was eighty dollars for a month’s supply. It could be worse. The last time I asked the same question, the particular script didn’t have a generic, and the answer was somewhere slightly north of two hundred dollars.

I suppose I’m a lucky duck in the sense that I’ve got some form of health insurance, as much as that health insurance is Medicaid (although that’s a frakking joke here in the State of California, let me tell you). And the reason I qualify for Medicaid? Well, because my income is low enough that I’m on disability. And why am I on disability? That’s what the bottle of pills is supposed to address.

You see, some of you know this, but a lot of you don’t. I’m bipolar. (Not to mention the other chronic medical conditions I have, but those complicate the situation, so let’s stay right here.) I’m lucky, if one can call it lucky to have a mental illness, that I’ve got the slightly less serious form, which doesn’t involve the complete detachment from the world that a full-blown manic state can cause.

Of course, the sudden chasms are all the much worse for it. I’m prone, especially when I’m not being good about taking my medications, of falling into a deep and horrible chasm from which there is no escape. The whole world goes dark and grey, like a fog so thick that I begin to think that I’m the only person in the world. I seriously contemplate ending it all, to stop being a worthless sack of meat that nobody particularly cares about. I can barely get out of bed, let alone do all the things the world requires of me. I start shying away from people, because if they knew, it might contaminate them and I couldn’t live with that. If I had to interact with the world, I’d put on a brave face, keep my head down, and try my best to act normal as much as every word is difficult and every step is agonizing and I’m doing my best not to break down and start crying or screaming. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Did I mention I fell into this hole in the last semester of both my undergraduate and graduate programs, and it was only sheer luck that saved my hide in both cases?

It’s an awful place to be, and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. And it took us forever to find a pill that would keep me from falling into that dark place. The one I’m on now seems to be doing okay, although it doesn’t take away the intrusive thoughts that everybody’s looking at me and either rooting for me to fail or doesn’t care if I did. I deal with that the best that I can, and there are days that are better than the others.

Enough so that I’ve gotten a job. It’s only part-time. And in this country, being part-time (or being a contractor) means that the company doesn’t have to give you health benefits. Well, okay, that’s fine at the moment, my income is not high enough for me to move completely off SSI. So I still qualify for the little bit of help this country grudgingly gives to its poor.

And the amount of money I make is, quite frankly, unsustainable. The car payment doesn’t help, of course, but I needed a reliable car. And, you know, while my parents are great and awesome and wonderful people, I need to get out of here. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I’m nearly thirty-one and still living with my parents.

So I’m looking for a full-time job, which is difficult at the best of times, because I have to find a job that provides health care. Which means stringing together a couple part-time jobs or doing contract work is out of the question. Also, being at my job, if they raise the money I make an hour while keeping me part-time, at some point I’ll cross the income threshold for SSI.

And when that happens, that eighty dollar bottle of pills that’s my link to sanity, let alone the doctor to prescribe it, ends up being too much to afford. And then bang, I fall back into that hole that I’ve worked so goddamned hard to climb out of, get to the point where I can’t keep the job, and et voila, I end up back on SSI and I get to start over. That is, if I even qualify for it on the second fall.

So here I am, trapped. I’d like to do contract work. It’s more suited to my skill set and it means that I can keep my own hours, which is a good thing because I’m a night owl and run naturally on a noon to 3 AM clock. But I can’t do that, because I can’t afford to take a job that doesn’t come with benefits. Which leaves me caught nicely in a catch-22, where any attempt to make my situation better ends up, in all probability, making it worse. (Not to mention that this just feeds that little anxious voice in the back of my head: “See, they’re all rooting for you to fail!”)

Which makes me see red when I see the rhetoric that ‘all people on welfare are lazy.’ Are they lazy, or are they just trapped?

And this is just in relation to the bipolar. I’m not even bringing in the other medical conditions I’ve got, that’ll probably end up killing me. I know nobody makes it out alive, but, if you want the honest truth, most days I don’t think I’m going to make it to fifty.

…and this came out a hell of a lot rawer than I expected it to be, so be gentle.

Words have power [extended health care rant, part 1]

First off, I know my hometown is rather Republican. It’s part of the reason I don’t always feel comfortable up there, but people have a right to their politics despite how much I may disagree with them. But this video makes me embarrassed to be from Redding:

Alright, so again, there’s a first amendment right to say as you please, no matter how dumb you come across sounding. The guy has a right to protest, so I don’t mind that he’s a teabagger sort. Folks have a right to say what they want. However, the bit that just makes me angry is that bit about being “a right-wing terrorist”.

Again, I know that folks have the right to say what they want to say. But labeling oneself a terrorist is a bit like yelling fire in a crowded theater. If you want to pull the Feds down on your head, there’s only a few worse things you can say. But alright, fine. First amendment and all, even though the first amendment doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences for what you say.

The things that make me embarrassed to be from Redding in this video is by how loud the crowd applauds. I mean, they literally cheer for the guy — a guy who has said that he’s not above blowing up buildings and killing innocent people for his cause. Let’s not beat around the bush (or the Bush, for that matter) here. A terrorist is somebody who uses terror — the threat of hurting innocent people to cause fear — to achieve a political goal. I’m willing to give the guy in the video a pass in the sense that he meant another word and said the wrong one, as much as that is a really bad slipup, if that’s the case. However, the crowd cheering at those words — in essence, approving of terrorism — is what appalls me.

Then there’s what the Congressman said, which makes me embarrassed to admit that I think I voted for the guy once. You see, Herger was pretty good, despite his political affiliations, of doing what was right for his constituents. He even listened kindly to me when I asked him at a town hall meeting how he could help in regards to the cost of attending college. In the end, he might not have done anything, but I got the feeling he was taking me seriously and at least thought about what I had said when the next bill to help with college aid came up.

But again, there’s a line you cross when you say to somebody who’s just declared himself a right-wing terrorist: “Amen, God bless you, there’s a great American.” I don’t really think our representatives ought to be encouraging those who would stoop to violence to achieve their political goals, whether they share the same political beliefs or oppose them. There’s a line of decorum here that shouldn’t be crossed.

I know Republicans don’t want this health care bill, and I can vaguely understand why. But, that said, some of this rhetoric is getting a bit out of control.

(BTW, don’t give me the it was a joke bit. There’s some things that just aren’t funny — and I hate to say it, that didn’t sound like a joke on the tape. He sounded dead serious, and to cover it up by saying “Haw haw, it’s a joke, it’s supposed to be funny, you liberals have no sense of humor” isn’t right either. My mom taught me that some things just weren’t funny no matter if you meant it as a joke or not, and terrorism is one of those things.

That said, this bit in that editorial is spot on and something I can agree with:

If there’s a lesson here, maybe it’s about the need for everyone to turn the volume down. Left and right alike slap the vilest labels on those with whom they have political disagreements. Critics slag both “tea-bag” activists and Acorn organizers as “Brownshirts” – as if voting differently on the “public option” is the equivalent of slaughtering millions, as the Nazis did in the 1930s and ’40s. What will we say if real Nazis ever show up?

Is it so hard to be polite and respectful to one another even though we disagree? Can we stop with the hot-button words?)

But between this video and the news that Ted Kennedy died, some part of me this morning is sorta feeling like, there went my last best chance to become a productive citizen. I’ll have more to say on that later, when I’m not rushing off to work, as it’s a story that’s going to take a bit of time to tell.