Sorry, You Ain’t It.

I looked at the sample ballot while standing in the early voting line. The county set up the early voting center at a major library just two blocks from work. Of course there was a line, and it was long. Poll workers placed “yellow duct tape” on the carpeted floor. Cinematically, the message was “follow the yellow brick road.” Voters zig-zagged through ‘Fiction,’ ‘Non-Fiction,’ ‘Periodicals,’ ‘Audio/Visual,’ ‘Teens,’ ‘Romance,’ and ‘Current Affairs.’ Everyone followed the same path. Half-way through, I snickered. A woman ahead of me inquired of my laughter. “You know, ask people to wear a mask and they complain like hell about how it infringes upon their life. Yet, they will stand in line following tapped floors without question.” Chuckling she asked if I had any major thoughts for an election of a lifetime. Indeed I did, most coming from several days prior.

My doctor walked in the medical office and asked how I was doing. I regurgitated a perverted verse from Charles Dickens. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, its been a season of fatigue, it is the season exhaustion, I was barren of hope, and feeling a winter of despair.” She paused for a moment, with slight inkling to mouth, “W… The F…?,” but caught herself. Recollecting her thoughts, she posed her question once more, “Please explain?” 

Exhaustion is difficult to live, but nearly impossible to explain. How do you explain deep tiredness that does not improve with rest? Early mornings are foggy, moving is a slog, and energy deletion appears from nowhere, like those half-drained Ray-O-Vac batteries my father presented at Christmas-time. “Just try em’” he said. They would, then didn’t. I can’t completely focus as if something is awry, but cannot quite sort it out. I operate at 85%-95%. I work and make a living, just like before. No one detects a problem, but post-event is nothing like pre-event.

Fatigue shadows me, especially since the incident. I reflect often, it was the day the night spun and life shuffled from ‘Years’ to ‘Months.’ Nearly half of people with Parkinson’s report fatigue as a major problem. Though I don’t rule out depression. “Maybe I did have a ‘mini-stroke,’” I tell myself. After all, strokes cause the same level of fatigue I experience. It will be difficult to know, for brain scan appointments can be weeks or months from the event. The earliest appointment available is November 10th. The whole encounter is frustration. If I saw Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez I’d scream.

What Sanders and Cortez has failed to answer is, “Exactly just how are you going to change health care? Yes, one can shout ‘Affordable Healthcare’ to the heavens. But how will your proposal change wait times to receive medical care?” Sanders and Cortez believe America is the richest country on earth. As such, no person should suffer because they cannot afford healthcare. Got it. Thank you. I applaud your push for a universal, single payer healthcare system. Tell me though, “What’s the point if you’re waiting for 20 days for an appointment?”

Neither Sanders nor Cortez offered anything close to a universal health care system where the government would own and operate hospitals – instead, they offered that the government would pay private providers an agreed upon rate for their services. Eventually, the country phase out of private insurance plans so everyone would receive insurance from the federal government. There would be no deductibles, no premiums, no co-payments for care. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Republican healthcare plan.

There have been at least 70 Republican-led attempts to repeal, modify or otherwise curb the Affordable Care Act since its inception. In the 2016 election, the ‘Orange One’ stated the GOP would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Per The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein, the Republican plan goes something like this: lack of protections is a feature. Ending protections for the sick is the central mechanism all GOP health-care proposals utilize. Essentially, GOP believes your premiums should reflect the risk you pose to the insurer, and insurers should be able to assess that risk and then set a rate accordingly. Younger people are less risk … Older folks or the ill (like me), well, sucks to be us.

I work in healthcare. And I am dying. More than likely, this is my last presidential election. When the woman ahead of me in early voting asked if I had any major thoughts for the election of a lifetime, I replied, “I am making this vote for the futures of my niece and nephew.” I went to the poll and thought of the character Kenny O’Donnell from the film Thirteen Days, “If the sun comes up tomorrow, it is only because of men of good will. And that’s – that’s all there is between us and the devil.”

I casted my vote for a future. Sorry Republicans, at this point in time, ‘… you ain’t it.’



Categories: Do No Harm, Life Lessons, Social Justice

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