[The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased a punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. We continue this entertaining series with Daniel’s discovery of his own mortality. —Ed].
My Left Arm Hurts
By Daniel Will Harris
This could either be a sign of heart trouble, or that I have hurt myself exercising, or that I'm even more neurotic than I had suspected.
Since I just started exercising my arms (and I'm not sure why, they always worked, what did I think I was going to make them do—bend steel?), it's probably that. But since I don't know, the possibilities are now also making my head hurt.
It's also made me think about mortality, which, let me tell you, is quite time-consuming. Ironic if I really don't have much time left.
Once I got to be a man of a certain age (let's just say "in my 40s" and be done with it), I started start to realize I was going to die. Hopefully not in the near future, but eventually. I am mortal—just like you are. (Unless you are reading this from deep space, in which case I have no idea what you are or how long you will live but that's neither here nor there and I apologize for even going there, please return to your light-speed navigation or whatever you are doing but also please remember to be nice when we get here because we're all worried about dying and you may very well scare us to death). Where was I?
That's right—I am going to die. I don't know when (few do), but I know it will happen. I don't know exactly what will happen once I'm dead (again, so few do), but I am one of those people who believes that energy doesn't stop existing, it just changes form, so I will be around in some way, in some dimension, as light or a lamb or if I have bad karma, perhaps Silly Putty or a neo-conservative.
But that doesn't really help me now, when my arm is hurting, and I want to figure out why and put off the inevitable, since "inevitable" does not have to mean, "now."
At the same time, I am afraid to mention this to my wife because she already calls me a hypochondriac just because I was brought up to believe that if you had a twinge you should go see a doctor because they might be able to do something to help you. Silly me.
Avoiding doctors so that she wouldn't think I was a hypochondriac has generally not served me well when I actually have been sick, just as it didn't serve her well when she had pneumonia.
Ah, well, we live and learn. Or don't and die.
But what to do now? That's the question. I called my favorite doctor (and I do have one, she's a wonderful doctor I trust with my life—which makes sense, since she did save my life once). She's not in. I e-mailed her (she is a nice doctor who has entrusted me with her e-mail address). She replied and told me if I'm concerned I should get a CT heart scan.
This is what I'd figured out from my web research, but it helps to hear her saying it because then it justifies the expensive test.
And this is where it gets weird and I get stupid (or stupider, depending on your already sinking opinion of moi). The test takes about 10 minutes and costs $500. Yes, this is what medicine is like in the United States. We can spend more on weapons than all other nations combined, but we cannot provide affordable health care like virtually all other industrialized nations. I am not sure how this makes sense, but then again, I was born with good karma this time (though I guess if I'd had better karma I would have been born Canadian).
The test isn't covered by insurance because they don't seem to want to spend $500 in preventative care. Instead, they'd rather pay the $10,000 a day or more it costs to go to the hospital should you have the bad judgment to get sick because they wouldn't pay for a test that could have prevented it.
Now, if I'm going to pay $500 I want something to show for it (at least something akin to the $5,000 images of my colon I posted on my web site—and the heart scan people say I will get pictures so I could just consider it an internal portrait sitting).
Still, the way my mind words, if the test doesn't show something wrong then I have wasted $500. At least until I return to my senses and realize I don't want it to find anything wrong, and it's better to be healthy and throw away $500 than to have the $500 show you aren't healthy. So I'm paying for peace of mind. Even if I get peace of mind, I will still feel like an idiot after spending $500 for no good reason other than I am an idiot.
But I'll also feel like an idiot if I don't and there's something wrong with me—actually, I won't feel like an idiot if I'm dead. I'll just have been one. I'll keep you posted, if I'm still around.