Saturday, May 11, 2013

That Time I Almost Died Part VII

December 2008 (I think this string of blogs was titled “The Apotheosis of Payne”)

My body and psyche have capitulated, so when I return to the U.S. for Christmas, I will be remaining there for at least a few months while I seek First World care. The hope is that a diagnosis and treatment plan will be reached quickly, and that I’ll be back to reasonable health and London town by the spring. 
Back to business: Dec. 11th return trip to the hematologist: Not only was PMR ruled out, but another theory, B-12 deficiency, was checked off the list. In fact, my B-12 reading was one of the only indicators that was slightly high.

The hematologist showed me a computer screen clustered with bloodwork jargon that was supposed to illuminate us both. Evidently, nothing kooky dared show itself, which brought the doc to a new theory: hepatitis c. I felt like saying, "I’m flattered you think I’m happening enough for hepatitis C (the C stands for cool), but let’s face it, I’m not that outgoing.”

Instead I said something about how square my life had been, making hep C astronomically unlikely. I could see by the doubting smirk on her face she didn’t believe me. I protested, citing all the important stats of my boring life. With each word, her face became ever more scrunched and skeptical. This is the only time I’ve ever had trouble convincing a woman I don’t get laid much.
We went back and forth on this point, then she began to speculate wildly about tapeworms and rare liver diseases. Once I half-convinced the hematologist that hep c was a long shot, she offered a very unappealing Plan B; a bone marrow biopsy. My reaction must have said a lot, because she tried to backpedal a bit by saying: “I don’t think you’re as sick as you look."

The word biopsy is a downer at 89. When you’re 29, it leaves you vegetative. Maybe I'm just accustomed to the diagnosis roller coaster, because some of the initial shock value was lost on me. What replaced it was a very specific kind of resentment. Age 30 is just around the bend for me, and I couldn't help but think of how I spent my 20s: loitering in comedy clubs with comedians I mostly disliked. Comedians are a twisted and often very unamusing bunch. If you like people who take a Type A approach to annoying everyone around them, hang around comedians. If you want to be around a bunch of wannabe peacocks who think saying they have a fancy tail and actually having a fancy tail are the same thing, find your way to a comedy green room. If you like people with more tics than a woman who has been sexually trafficked, visit an open-mic.
The comics I started with also became great friends. Unfortunately, they were a small minority of...oh...let's just say single digits. The majority of comedians I’ve met do nothing but put several exclamation marks on a business that can only be described as heinous.  Don’t get me started on the bookers.

I spent my 20s in such company, all because of a delusion about “making it" in comedy (I can't even write it without cringing!). A poor choice on my part. But hey, any chump who bunny hops toward a mirage deserves what he gets.

I guess I should say a few words about the idea of public, socialized healthcare. Go to any scandalous online newsstory about healthcare, and you’ll find a spate of comments like, “Yeah, what do you expect from for-profit healthcare?” This statement states nothing whatsoever, but by blending vague cynicism with what sounds like industry jargon, it lets its author play the role of informed commentator. All that’s lacking is a misused Latin phrase. Referring to “empirical evidence” while providing no actual evidence or even demonstrating that you know what empirical means is another winsome tactic.
Hard not to laugh at Americans cheering on government conscripted medicine. Given how abominably government performs in all its other functions, why would anyone trust, let alone insist, that we turn over healthcare to government officials? A giant government system is a giant government system. It doesn’t matter if it’s the military or medicine, stealth bombers or stethoscopes, the results from plus-sized government are the same; lethal and inept. The same process (and underlying assumptions) that strands you in Iraq enables medical bureaucrats to hit the snooze button on your cancer treatment. Government healthcare is the collateral damage do-gooders have deemed acceptable. Health redistribution doesn’t work any better than wealth redistribution.

Yes, I’ve had wacky healthcare experiences in America. At age 12, during a family vacation in North Carolina, we stopped somewhere to eat BBQ ribs. I managed to get a splinter of rib caught in my throat. I wasn’t choking; it was just a scratchy obstruction. We were near Cherokee, North Carolina, an area which comes complete with live Cherokees. We pulled up to the first hospital we saw. Turns out, it was for Cherokees only, and I was turned away (had it been an emergency, I believe they would have been compelled to treat me).
Don't know where my comedy goes from here. Do know I need to get funny again. Hope I'm haven't become permanently pretentious. If I have, hopefully I'll recognize it and quit jokes forever. I'm not cut out for confessional folk comedy, and neither are crowds.

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