The thing that keeps striking me, however, is just how unusual I'm not. Seems like it's happened to practically everybody, or is happening, or will happen. Which sucks, but at the same time--hey, misery loves company, and at least they're all alive on the other side to say "Yup, sucks, life goes on."
Today I went in for my yearly physical, told my doctor the score and that there was a good chance my health insurance might fall by the wayside, and could they suggest anything?
They could. They did. And I realized something, as she went through the checklist of "Do this now, do this now, this we can do with samples, keep comin' in for the pap smear here, we'll keep it under a hundred bucks and the Department of Health is no fun at all, take these samples, take these, here's a good optometrist, get that NOW, quick, while they'll cover glasses if you need them, we'll do a full panel of labs while you're covered, come in if you're sick, we can keep it under thirty bucks and treat you with samples, here's the place to call to get three months prescriptions at a time while you're still covered, that'll save you a little cash, carry catastrophic insurance if you possibly can, but we'll try and take care of you, we can charge you $15 for the visits, we can't do anything about the lab fees, but we'll do our best, here's the signs of depression you might notice, call me if it gets too much, we'll get you on a three month run of something mild that you can go off without a problem--and do it with samples!--because it's a lot better to get you over a rough patch than try to haul you out of a deep dark hole..."
What I realized, of course, was that I wasn't the first person to come in with this lament. I probably wasn't even the hundredth. We're a chronically under-insured country with rampant divorce rates, after all. She knew exactly what to suggest, she knew exactly what they could do for me, she knew all the questions to ask and the advice to give. She had Done This Before.
Probably quite a lot.
And for all the ranting people do about the medical establishment, the tiny chunk of it I know wants to help. A lot. And I am grateful for that. I have been terrified of living without insurance, as I start to age--talking to her made me realize that this, too, is manageable, and doable, even if all roads go completely ill and I am totally unable to find private coverage or get it paid for.
There is a strange kind of comfort in not being the only one who's found themselves gaping at the edge of this particular abyss. We may all be alone, but we're all alone together. And that's worth a lot more than I ever quite expected.
*"Oh, Urs..." said my Dad sadly a while back, "you get that from me. Well, I got drunk rather than going clothes shopping, but otherwise, yeah."