It takes a country

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I wanted to write about happy stuff this week, so help me, but goddamn it, I went to that bone marrow donor drive on Saturday that I wrote about in Filet of Soul, and it sent my imagination into a tailspin.

I’ll tell you why. First off, I don’t have one of those imaginations that tend toward pessimism. But I’ve been around the block a time or two, and I learn from my observations. Especially this year, I’ve seen, not just in my own circle but in the media, people dying of cancers, addictions and organ failures. Bottom line: Everyone dies of something.

Few and far between are the ones among us who live disease free, hit their 70s, and die of a massive heart attack or stroke. Isn’t that sad? No, most of us will develop the typical aging diseases and watch the medical bills pile up.

And then I hear about Tanner, who, because of a single disease, hit his $1 million lifetime insurance “benefit” at 4 years old. That means, while the hospitals may continue to offer care, Tanner’s parents are paying for his life out of pocket. True, there may be some help from here and there, but Tanner is a special case—an adorable toddler.

Not too many of us are too adorable when we hit those aging diseases. And despite the fact that we know what our illness can do to our wallets and families, there is no urge stronger in a human being than the will to survive.

Do you get where the equation is going? The vast majority of us will get a long-term illness before we die, and we’ll use up our lifetime benefit (especially in these days of ever rising health-care costs and insurance premiums that prevent us from buying the higher “benefit.”). Then, because of our will to survive or our family’s feeling of obligation, we’re going to give every last dime to the medical industry—not to mention the creeping horrors we’ll give our families because the medical industry is very good at keeping us alive.