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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

13 ways of looking at catastrophe

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
1. I can keep paying 33.16 percent of my pretax income for health insurance premiums until I have exhausted our home equity credit line, or I can go naked--no health insurance at all, since what I have is all I can get. In the case of the latter, I will be one medical catastrophe in the future away from bankruptcy. In the case of the former, I will undergo bankruptcy on the installment plan.

2. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jim
A one-time bourgeoisie, easily kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin at some peasants,
And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.

Toxins, that is, black sludge, DDT.

Well the first thing you know ol Jim's a thousandaire,
Kinfolk said "Jim move away from there"
Said "Mumbai is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up the boat and moved to India.

Slums, that is. Dupont spills, slumdogs.

Well now it's time to say good by to Jim and all his kin.
And they would like to thank you folks fer kindly piling on.
You're all invited back again to this locality
To have a heapin helpin of their organs bodily.

Livers, that is. Kidneys, too, Take your pick. It's all there's left to sell!

Y'all come back now, y'hear?.

A change to the living will of James S. Thornton:

In case of medical catastrophe, I hereby decree that I want to be kept alive with every possible expensive high-tech gadget and drug now known and invented in the future, until the entire $25 million coverage I have paid for to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has been completely and utterly exhausted down to the final penny, at which point, I authorize plug-pulling from my exhausted remains. Moreover, I demand that even in the event that there is zero brain activity whatsoever measurable inside my ruined corpus during the decades that I am, quasi-posthumously, exerting my revenge, er, I mean, getting my financially obligated healthcare paid for by my usurious insurer, that I want the maximum sub lethal dose of morphine, Xanax, and (if legal) cocaine dripped intravenously through my system 24/7/365 till the $25 million is exhausted. (I want my estate to be provided with an exact accounting of every penny spent, too; no $4 aspirin tablets without justification for same in triplicate.) And finally, I would request that an ever-rotating squadron of Bible Thumping Palin-Supporter Abortion Clinic Bombing Evangelists be given access to my bed side during visiting hours to pray over me and do their best to stimulate my resurrection via the literal rhythmic thumping of their Bibles, not to mention a constant sneer of menace towards any doctor, nurse, orderly, or candy striper who even thinks of ending my so-called life before the $25 million is spent.

4. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the estimated 50 million Americans currently without health insurance, only 1-2 percent are in the state voluntarily--i.e, they make enough money to pay for it, but just cavalierly choose not to pay for it

5. Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton University told me that the current system is "cruel" and that the propagandists at the Wall Street Journal and the Murdoch Media Empire are reminiscent of infamous propagandists from his former country of Germany, but when I suggested the name Goebbels, he said, "You can't say that I said that."

6. The little old lady that swallowed the fly is extremely familiar to me. Similarly, the sled dog that falls before its rapacious pack mates is a creature that I feel an almost Shirley McClain-like previous-life identification with. Between a hornet buzzing in my lungs, and scars on my jugulars, I am left to wonder: how many more incarnations before I get out of this hell hole?

7. 13 ways is an awful lot of ways to look at something this revolting

8. Who knows what combination of depression and sleep disorder throws cognition for a ringer? Who knows what causes these disorders? To make enough money to pay for their treatment, I asked my doctor about Provigil, a "wakefulness promoting agent" that is used by the military to keep our combat pilots awake and at peak mental functioning for days at a time. To prescribe it, he needed an FDA approved condition--take your pick, shift work disorder or narcolepsy. Alas, there was nothing on the form for "getting old, hard to think intensely hour after hour after hour, in the hope of eking out enough of a so-called living to pay for taxes and health insurance and social security I will never see, all the while crippled with sleepiness induced as a likely side effect of antidepressants." So he picked narcolepsy. Which I don't technically have, but nevertheless appears now to make me utterly uninsurable if I try to change health plans.

9.As kids, my brother and I were once playing in a sewer pipe. I went in and got stuck. I could not back out. The only way out was forwards. But the more I tried to wriggle in this direction, the tighter the grip of the inside diameter. I can still remember that feeling of suffocation, a rat stuck, no exit. Somehow, miraculously, my brother managed to stick his legs in and push me out. I don't think I will get out this time.

10. Most people, myself included, have felt some sympathy for the underclass--those who are stuck in horrible situations, in places where the nearest fresh vegetable, for instance, is three bus transfers away in the suburbs, and meanwhile they get criticized for eating junk food. I know my current situation is nothing like this. But I also suspect we are hardwired to feel worse about change for the worse than something bad that has been that way so long we are used to it. All I am saying is that when you feel things are rigged for the benefit of others, and when you furthermore feel that these other "beneficiaries" are cloaking their greed in virtue, wrapping themselves in platitudes like Freedom and The Unseen Hand of the Market, when in fact it is nothing but a license to grab for themselves not just an extra spot at the trough, but THE ENTIRE TROUGH, well it just makes you think how satisfying it might be to rise up and go berserk.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

12. Prediction: depression, plague, World War, halcyon aftermath; repeat.

13. Tonight's practice: 5000 yards.
My fastest of our 14 x 200s was a mediocre 2:10. Must work and try harder. It is, I think, important that I keep my body in as close to age-adjusted superb shape as possible so that when the inevitable medical catastrophy strikes, the body will be able to survive long enough to exhaust the entire $25 million in lifetime benefits that my health insurer has promised is coming to me, and which I hope--with my last dying, brain-dead breath--to use to the final penny, out of nothing more than spite.

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  1. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    If the blogosphere is looking for its poet lareate I submit that he has been found. This wrenching cri de coeur is brilliant and should be widely disseminated. Our health system is indeed cruel. Bravo Vlog Inhaler, a wonderful piece of writing!
  2. Bobinator's Avatar
    I grew up in a small town called Columbia City.
    It was very boring there; we used to play in the sewer pipes too!
    My last day in the sewers was prompted by the sighting of a rat as big as my neighbors german shepherd!
    It's a wonder kids from the 1960's survived. We were always active, dare-develish, and totally encompassed in all kinds of germs without ever washing our hands.
    We didn't drink much water either. (Kids now days come equiped with compulsory Aquafina water bottles, like they're gonna dehydrate in 5 minutes if they get out of breath!)
  3. jim thornton's Avatar
    Hi, Bobinator. Thanks for your fellow sewering vignettes! As far as water goes, I don't get it. I think bottled water makes no sense whatsoever, except, that is, for those who sell it.

    It now looks like only two from my entire LSMC are coming to Indy, me and my great coach/friend Bill. Would it be possible for us to plant a tent somewhere inside your garage? Since we don't have enough for a relay, we could spend Saturday doing yard chores to pay for our campsite! We Okies of the Next Great Depression are an honorable lot! If our singing of Joe Hill songs discomfit the Republican neighbors, we will pipe down!