I’m pretty tired right now, which is a feeling shared by a lot of folks, I know. During the brief period when I thought the latest healthcare-gutting bill was dead, I was feeling positively upbeat, but the blinds closed again recently and I picked up a couple beers and went back to bed for awhile.
The last couple months, I’ve started doing this thing where I clench my jaw at night; even during the day, now. I can feel it tightening up with worry and grim determination, and I have to force myself to relax. I make OK money right now, but I’m one job loss away from being uninsurable soon, and that’s a weight I haven’t had to grapple under since 2010. Note that I didn’t really start jamming out work at speed until 2011. That means my entire professional novel career, I’ve had the ACA safety net to take my mind away from the horrors of 2007. I could say, over and over, that yeah, things may get bad, but I’d never have to go through THAT again.
Working under this weight has been really hard. I have a health insurance plan right now with a $5k deductible, which means I paid $1500 for meds last month. Under the new plan, I could be charged like $20,000 a year just in premiums. I could have a $50,000 deductible on top of that, even on an employer plan, because all those regulations that the ACA made to keep insurance companies honest are very likely to go away, because they want people like me to “pay their share.”
Newsflash, folks: the whole point of health insurance is to have it cover you in case something horrible happens.
Something horrible happened to me.
The rhetoric coming out of this bullshit regime is like saying that the house insurance you bought isn’t going to cover damage from a fire because you should pay your share. Ummm… like… that’s not how insurance works. It’s literally hedging one’s bets against disaster. My disaster happened already.
I am hunkered down and trying not to go all “worst case scenario” because the truth of what we end up with will likely be a middle ground, but when you live like I do, with an chronic illness that’s this expensive to manage, you have to think ahead. And that’s exhausting. At the very least, I have to stay employed at a traditional employer forever. Which, hey, fine. At worst, even making what I do at a traditional employer, I’ll have to cut back to bare essentials just to make ends meet. We already have medical debt from our last health insurance plan with a high deductible that we are paying off. We were super thrilled when we finally paid off my spouse’s cancer medical debt a couple years back. It’s like this revolving door that we’re on, always hustling, hustling, hustling, and never getting ahead.
To take a system that is already fucked and make it worse makes you the worst human beings imaginable. To have voted in people who lied to you boldly and baldly is equally unconscionable. The amount of money I’m paying in taxes, in premiums, in deductions, is more than a lot of people make, period. But I’m the one who should die? I’m the one who shouldn’t be covered, when literally the point of insurance is to cover catastrophic bullshit that happens to people?
It’s tough to do work outside what’s keeping you in meds and food when you’re this stressed out, too. I’m pretty proud of all the shit I’m getting done, honestly, even if stuff like The Broken Heavens is running late. It’s still moving, and let me tell you – that’s a fucking heroic act right now. And the short story every month? And the podcast? Patreon rewards? AMAZE. I am fucking AMAZED every fucking time I GET OUT OF BED in the fucking morning, these days.
But I am fucking tired. And when your own life is in the balance, you tend to get pretty annoyed with people and their petty bullshit. I’ve been working hard to stay as un-engaged from Twitter and other social platforms as possible, because you just want to dismiss people’s whiny bullshit with, “WE COULD ALL BE DEAD IN THE MORNING,” and that’s not helpful for anyone. Little things also make you want to go nuclear, even when it’s just clerical error stuff. Every little thing, from dishes in the sink to a snarky email, makes you want to BURN DOWN THE WORLD. I was DM’ing with another writer recently who was like, “Oh, you look so put together in public!” and I’m like… yeah. Yeah, well, I’m a pro, etc.
Let’s not pretend that it doesn’t wear at us, though, no matter our public faces or snarky podcasts and sly jokes or ALL CAPS. I deal with stress like this with raw humor, and yes, that includes the snarky podcasts and sly jokes and ALL CAPS. That’s how I cope, and I’m doing the best I can to cope in a way that helps other people cope, too.
So if you see me around the interwebs, or rambling through events (I’m GOH at a convention in Sweden in less than 2 weeks! Dear lord), and I seem to laugh a little too hysterically, this is what’s up. I don’t hate you, I’m not high. In truth, I am doing the very best I can to cope in what is a horrifying and literally deadly situation for me here. I am one job loss away from losing everything I’ve worked to build the last ten years, and living with that knowledge hurts.
I am an American pre-existing condition, and vulnerable to death by vote.