The marathon is three days away and I’ve had a whopping ten people work on my foot injury this week.
My job works me 50+ hours a week—usually in fast-deadline-full-panic mode—but it rewards us handsomely with some pretty spectacular insurance. So this week alone I’ve met twice with a sports-medicine podiatrist and twice with a sports-medicine physical therapist, which technically adds up to only two health-care workers but they both brought along an unexpected retinue of sports medicine experts in various stages of residency and assistanceship so the size of my medical posse is artificially (though still uncomfortably) high.
If all that attention didn’t make me feel guilty enough, consider the fact that it’s all for a completely preventable injury (don’t run marathons and you won’t get painful Wookie tendons in your feet) sustained in the pursuit of a ridiculously harmful sport that’s almost as much about vanity and bragging rights as it is about physical accomplishment. And yet my insurance and all these doctors and therapists swooped right in to take care of me the moment I indicated I’d hurt myself.
Compare my situation to Thomas’. For those of you just joining us, Thomas is the pseudonym for my domestic partner’s developmentally disabled brother. We’ve been taking care of him since he moved in with us two years ago. And since nether of our company’s benefits plans could be extended to him as a dependent adult, I asked around to get some medical insurance quotes as soon as we found out he’d never been insured. I assumed we’d be paying freakishly high premiums to cover him, but it seemed like an important investment in his medical and our financial futures.
Imagine my shock, then, when we found out we couldn’t get insurance for Thomas. Not because his coverage would be prohibitively expensive. Not because we’re not his legal guardians. No! We couldn’t get insurance for him because nobody would insure him.
I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAS EVEN AN OPTION.
So in our current system, a grown man who through no fault or action of his own was born or became clinically retarded cannot get medical insurance. But I, a reckless daredevil who injures himself in an effort to look young and hot and have bragging rights in a bar and another medal to hang on his wall, has the kind of coverage that allows ten medical practitioners to take care of his inflamed foot tendon so he can keep running and keep putting himself at risk.
Which puts me in a quandary when I encounter the morons who insist affordable medical care is best left to the free market that determined Thomas is not worthy of affordable medical care. My quandary is this: I don’t think these morons deserve medical insurance since they don’t want everyone to have access to it. But they may need it if they ever try to defend their vile opinions to me.
So I have declined any more pre-marathon foot care. My foot’s as healed as everyone thinks it will be, and I intend to slog my way through the marathon on Sunday as best as I can. My podiatrist says I should be OK, but my physical therapist still has reservations. Ironically, they both told me I should skip the marathon altogether because of my cold. As if. I’ll run it with my good friends Zicam and Vicks VapoRub if I have to. But I’ve gotten way too much essentially free medical care to just drop out at this point. And I have any trouble pushing myself through 26.2 miles of what’s threatening to be a cold, snowy Sunday, my innate sense of guilt is the most powerful motivator I have.