There is nothing subtle about my father.
By temperament, he is inclined to strong opinions and prejudices.
He did not attend college like I did.
He has been in jail.
Before my mother passed away, he had not seen her since she was pregnant with me.
Our five year relationship illustrates the best in each of us–one of I approach with a mix of discovery and suspicion.
One night after a nice dinner, decent conversation, and his doing his laundry at my apartment, dad was putting on his jacket to go home. He looked at me and did not want to smile. I knew why. Decades ago he had lost his front teeth in a prison brawl. He is deeply self conscious about it. He coughed a little which reminded me that I forgot to arm him with aluminum foiled left overs from our dinner. Didn’t want him to go home empty-handed. Grabbing a dishtowel, I turned to the stove to grab the roast when he softly asked.
“Do you have any antibiotics you can loan me? “
Ironically I was recovering from a cold myself. I had not gone to the doctor for it. Like most of my colds, I treated it with rest, lemon tea and Benedryl. I knew that there were no antibiotics in my house. I paused a long time over his question. I was also a bit distressed that he would think I would share my prescription drugs with him even if I had them. Rather than saving myself the effort, I made a futile trip to my medicine cabinet. It was unsurprising to see that it was devoid of antibiotics. There was Prilosec, Zantac, anxiety medication, Imodium, Pepto, Aspercream, and Motrin for me…Insulin for my diabetic cat accompanied by needles, steroids and glucosimine for my dog that I put down in March (I really need to get rid of that stuff).
Also in the cabinet was an empty old prescription bottle which had my mother’s name on it.
It was for Atenolol. Medication that is prescribed for hypertension, the silent murderer of my mother.
Guilty feelings came back. Afrocity you should have tried harder to get her to see that she had a problem. You should have been there. She died alone, no one knew for days. I closed the cabinet and sarcasm became my escape route as I attempted to recompose myself.
“No Dad. No antibiotics. I can’t help you unless you want to shoot up with pig insulin, and get rid of hairballs.” I said dryly. (AWKWARD)
He laughed at my sense of humor but I was not as amused.
At 62 this was no laughing matter for him. How did he let things get this way? My animals have more medicine than he does. He has a nice apartment, a car, but no health insurance. He works but it is only small odd jobs here and there- nothing steady. He receives social security benefits but no medical card.
Mean spirited conservative that I am, I told him that his health was his responsibility. Together we would work on getting him to a doctor if he ever needed one. With his leftovers packed in a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping bag I walked him to the elevator. We rode down together saying nothing. Sundays are not good for me because they remind me of my mother. Seeing that pill bottle was the last thing I needed. At the time of her death it seemed like a nice souvenir. Her name was on it. She had existed once and seeing her name in print proved it. For the same reason, I continue to have her catalog subscription forwarded to me. Sometimes I even buy something to make sure they will remain in my circle of junk mail . Somewhere in Burlington, Vermont my mom is alive in a database. She bought breast firming cream just last week.
The elevator went to the lobby, it was cold and rainy but I still walked down the sidewalk with him to his car. We hugged and then I said something mean and stupid.
“I don’t need to lose another person in my life. I can’t handle it. I don’t need to get another call in the middle of the night from a stranger telling me my parent is dead. I don’t need that.”
He just nodded “I know”.
“She died at 68. That is six years from 62.” I warned as I backed away from the car. Now I was sounding like my parent’s parent AGAIN. Been there
done that. Been there FAILED at that. The sidewalk ended time for me to go back inside of myself.
Honestly I can not tell you how I feel about universal health care. I am undecided. Why can’t I put him on my insurance if I want to? See I want to take care of him. I don’t want the government to do it. There is no tension between the former Democrat I once was and the conservative I am now. I was not in favor of socialized medicine then. See told you I was a DINO.
On Friday Charles Krauthammer warned us to expect health care rationing in this Atlantic Journal-Constitution article:
Expect health care rationing
By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post Writers Group
Friday, April 24, 2009
In the service of his ultimate mission —- the leveling of social inequalities —- President Obama offers a tripartite social democratic agenda: nationalized health care, federalized education (ultimately guaranteed through college) and a cash-cow carbon tax (or its equivalent) to subsidize the other two.
Problem is, the math doesn’t add up. Not even a carbon tax would pay for Obama’s vastly expanded welfare state. Nor will Midwestern Democrats stand for a tax that would devastate their already crumbling region…
It is estimated that a third to a half of one’s lifetime health costs are consumed in the last six months of life. Accordingly, Britain’s National Health Service can deny treatments it deems not cost-effective —- and if you’re old and infirm, the cost-effectiveness of treating you plummets. In Canada, they ration by queuing. You can wait forever for so-called elective procedures like hip replacements.
Rationing is not as alien to America as we think. We already ration kidneys and hearts for transplant according to survivability criteria as well as by queuing. A nationalized health insurance system would ration everything from MRIs to intensive care by a myriad of similar criteria.
The more acute thinkers on the left can see rationing coming, provoking Slate blogger Mickey Kaus to warn of the political danger. “Isn’t it an epic mistake to try to sell Democratic health care reform on this basis? Possible sales pitch: ‘Our plan will deny you unnecessary treatments!’ “
My preference is for a highly competitive, privatized health insurance system with a government-subsidized transition to portability, breaking the absurd and ruinous link between health insurance and employment. But if you believe that health care is a public good to be guaranteed by the state, then a single-payer system is next best. Unfortunately, it is fiscally unsustainable without rationing.
I agree with many of Krauthammer’s points having always found him to be levelheaded on mostly everything but especially health care reform. I am not looking to save the world. I just want to help my father help himself. Until then I will remember to guilt my doctor into giving me prescriptions for antibiotics and resign myself to being a political orphan on this issue.
Autographed Letter Signed,