More like in my wallet. After worrying for the past 18 months about possibly losing my health insurance, I finally hit pay dirt – and it didn't hit back.
I have received my Medicare card, and after I "disenroll" from my interim "Obama Care" within the next week or so, I will officially join the ranks of the millions who have insured their health – so to speak, with the Federal Government.
No more will I if-and-or-but about hospitals, doctors ("medical" actually) and prescription drugs (parts "A", "B" and "D" for those of you unfamiliar with the alphabet soup). Dental and vision coverage I'm not so sure about, but at present, I can live with the coverage that I know I have now because the worst case scenarios have been addressed.
And, as a former insurance broker, solving and/or protecting against worst-case scenarios was always my main concern.
To invoke "Speedy" from those long-ago Alka Seltzer commercials: "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz. Oh, what a relief it is." And even though I'm not plopping or fizzing, I am effervescent nonetheless at my arrival.
Reaching milestones (even destinations, sort of) is a way I've measured and evaluated my cancer experience. Not that I keep a chart or even a calendar with Xs marking the days, but "I've looked at life from both sides now" (heck, I've looked at life from all sides now – and in between, too) and my glass is still half full. I remain positive about my negative, and despite having never having seen Joni Mitchell in concert (although I did have tickets to see her at Cole Field House in the ’70s – once on stage, however, she realized she was too sick to perform and stage right she went) occasionally her songs have spoken to me.
Right now, The United States Government is speaking to me in the form of a red, white and blue card. They are telling me that I have made it to the promised land, a land whose existence was proposed in 1965 and which became law in 1966, fulfilling promises made to all Americans who reach age 65 that health insurance is their right and not because they were privileged.
Nevertheless, I feel privileged to be "Medichere." For 10 years, 10 months and 20 days, dating back to late December, 2008 when I first experienced the pain in my rib cage which precipitated my visit to the Emergency Room, I have been under the proverbial gun.
Sometimes, it's been holstered. Other times, it's been locked and loaded. So far, no shots have been fired, even though occasionally I've been in very close range.
I can't say for sure whether I thought I'd actually get here, but let's be realistic, we all had our doubts. But now it's time to gear up.
A tremendous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. All I have to do now is live with the fact that I have stage IV, non-small cell lung cancer, an incurable disease if there ever was one. But here I am, alive and reasonably well.
No more will I have to worry about who, what and where I'm going to be treated. From now on, I'm in charge. (Like Charles.) As a result, I feel as if I've regained a little control of my life.
And for a cancer patient originally diagnosed as "terminal," this control is an extraordinarily wonderful feeling.
I wish I could bottle it like "Brighto:" "Brighto, Brighto, makes old bodies new. We'll sell a million bottles, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo, woo." (The Three Stooges in "Dizzy Doctors," 1937.) And that's just the kind of silly enthusiasm I'll need living forward.
Hardly is the lung cancer I have on the run. I wouldn't even say I have it on the walk. A stagger, maybe. (Or maybe that's me who's staggering when I lose my balance because of the neuropathy in my feet.)
Cancer is an adversary unlike any other. It's going to do what it does. I doubt Medicare is going to scare it into remission.
Moreover, my not worrying about having health insurance anymore probably isn't going to have much effect on "the cancer" ("Forrest, Forrest Gump") either. The biggest effect will be on me, emotionally.
I just hope that's enough. Because I'm going to need all the ammunition I can muster.