The longer we live, the more time we spend our waking hours waiting for something big to happen. No, it’s not death, but life prolonged by medical procedures administered as we seep into the twilight. If it’s a bright day, but looks like dawn to us, then we wait for an oculist to part the clouds inside our retinas. If our heart or bladder flare up, we wait to see a doctor and then specialists who scan us inside and out. The results go inside a computer, which prints out our future. I watch my doctor’s face as he reads it, which predicts life or death for me. If he frowns, it means he will discontinue collecting fees, but if he smiles, the burden falls on Medicare.
If terrorism, socialism or climate change doesn’t take our country down, the inflated health care system will. One problem is that as people live longer due to improved health care, there’s many more of us waiting for multiple procedures to keep us breathing. My wife recently waited eight hours in an emergency room, which cost $4,380 to send her home. I had two valves repaired for $163,000. The government and insurance prevented the administering of my last rites —“His spirit and body weren’t broken, but his mind was as politics finally got to him.”
Back a few years ago, people died naturally of “old age.” Families kept old folks in the home, administered home remedies and asked God to help. Sassafras tea thinned the blood, cough syrup and salve opened passages and hot whiskey toddies relieved severe pain. Coal, cod or castor oil cured other disorders. When my old aunt Lina felt poorly, she’d take a big swig of “Hadacol,” a tonic that worked wonders for her. It contained secret ingredients mixed with about one-third alcohol.