Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It Used to be Easy



I have gone a couple weeks without writing one of my regular that-was-the-week-that-was blogs. It has not been an ordinary couple of weeks. Or couple months for that matter. And this blog is not about the events of the last couple months because they are not my events to tell. But it is about some of the questions raised over that time.

My father used to tell this joke about there were only two things to worry about: Whether you lived or died. And if you lived there was nothing to worry about. And if you died there were only two things . . .

Simpler times. Lately everything seems much more complex. Living is very difficult and expensive especially for those with chronic illnesses or in a relationship or friends of someone with a chronic illness. The American way of dying (or not dying) is very hard and stressful on everyone. And dying is very, very, very expensive and also very complex. Especially if you want to die at home. I once believed hospice was the answer. NOT. Nor is a simple cremation all that simple or cheap anymore. With fewer people dying the funeral homes are making less money so now they are charging for everything including but not limited to the utilities for their offices. They have taken a tip from the hospitals and bar code even the Kleenex boxes.

I think the answer is a long walk into the national forest with no return. Like, we are told, the first Americans (be they white or Indian or French) did. But there are even laws against that. Once in the wild west you could bury your loved ones on your property. That is not true anymore without a lengthy process of obtaining a cemetery permit which requires you have already become a ranch. You can even get fined and thrown in jail if you bury your cat on your land. Nobody tells about the cats and dogs.

Do not want to die? Probably not an option but lots of people delay it with all the new miracle cures for cancer. Let's skip rapidly over that insane cost. You think your generic insurance policy will cover it?  NOT. There are special insurance policies just for Chemo. And you need the deductible in cash before the first of the many diagnostic tests they will run before you begin Chemo. PET scan is about $5000. Oh, and you need to pay for funeral home services in advance: $2300 for no frills cremation.

And if you choose to go that route be prepared to have the balance of your life be about just not dying. And all your friends will be doctors and nurses whose time you pay for.

But it is not just death or not dying that has become complex. Life isn't easy. Try getting a mortgage these days. Think the information age has made that easier? NOT. Or lower interest rates make it cheaper. NOT. Banks have found tons of things you have to pay for up front. And the loan origination fee is to cover everything they will ask you to do or provide.

And then there are all those laws against drunk drivers. DWI's are so much fun in New Mexico. Our town drunk has 17 or more of them. He shouldn't be driving. Think you can figure out a way to keep him from driving? Nobody has yet when he is out of jail. The problem is so rampant here in our state some of the courts have gone to the Vehicle Ignition Interlock that requires the driver breathe into the system and register no alcohol to start the car. A woman was recently arrested for blowing into the device from the passenger seat so her drunk (and numerous offender) could drive her home. All this is infinitely harder if you live with the man and he is abusive when drunk. No longer feel safe on the highways? That is just drinkers. There are cancer patients on chemo and morphine, post op patients on pain meds, the little old lady driving under the influence of Ambien.

No, I am not dying. I cannot afford to. This whole line of thinking came up because my friend asked me why I worried about all the poisons the Chinese now put in our food or the radiation being measured in seafood (remember the healthy stuff we are suppose to eat) due to the radiation from the Japanese nuclear plant. And my comic quip was if I ate all that stuff I would either have the radiation treatments before the cancer or be embalmed already when I reach the funeral home provided I can pay for the transport.

Modern life was suppose to make everything easier. NOT. But dying is not the way out either.

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