Today marks the 4th anniversary of the passing of my partner of 28 months, Eileen Cadman, and I’ve talked about her enough over these past four years that I’m not really sure what’s left to say that I haven’t said already. Suffice to say, and I know I have acknowledged this, I wouldn’t be living the life I’m leading right now had I not gone to a dating website in September of 2010. Virtually everything good that has happened in the last few years is all part of her legacy, and that includes being in a relationship for the past 20 months with someone equally as extraordinary as she was.
I think back to the struggle she had over her last 11 months from her initial diagnosis of cancer to her final breaths. Over that time, half her colon was removed, she went through four ministrations of chemotherapy, we made near weekly visits to the oncologist, and she spent her final four days in a hospice I eventually became a volunteer at for nearly two years. The total cost of this entire time was the cab fares to and from the hospital and hospice, the rest, probably close to half a million US dollars total, was entirely covered by the National Health Service. She first began experiencing the complications about a month after we had been in California, and we both felt a little bit of relief at the time that nothing like that happened while we were in the US, where neither of us was insured. It’s possible the doctors would have deemed it unsafe for her to return to UK, and everything she and I ever owned or would hope to own would have been sacrificed to pay for the treatment.
Which brings us to Obamacare/Trump(don’t)Care. Actually, there’s a lot that’s gone on the last four years that I wonder how she’d have felt (well, no I don’t wonder, I know she’d be appalled!). It was only a few weeks after she died that Margaret Thatcher died, and I could imagine her sitting with me listening to the following Sunday’s BBC Radio 1 top 40 chart countdown to see if “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” was actually going to reach #1, even though she knew or cared little about contemporary pop music, but she vehemently hated Thatcher. I know her reaction to Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, and the far-right movements in continental Europe would be the same as mine, beginning with a big WTF?
Now then, this health care thing: Of the last ten years I lived in California, there were only two of those in which I had health insurance, and that was through my then-wife, who had been at her job long enough to qualify for coverage through her employer. I had paid for my own insurance through my unions until I reached the age of 40, at which time, my annual premium nearly quadrupled. I just decided to trust that I wasn’t going to get any long term illness that required hospitalisation, that if I had to go to the hospital, it was because I was in a serious accident and only had hours to live. As luck would have it, during those two years I was insured, I had to have an operation to remove melanoma from my back. My wife detected it in time, and the operation, which would have cost about $3000, was nearly all paid for. I think I only had to cough up a couple hundred from my end.
Fast forward to 2003, when I had to go to a UK doctor for the first time. I forget what my problem was, but I remember after consulting with the doctor, I reached for my wallet to pull out a credit card, and the doctor almost laughed while telling me about NHS. I was blown away. This became more an issue a year and a half later, when I’d been in a car accident on a UK road which required me getting stitches. It happened only a couple days before I was going to fly to the US, and since I needed to keep the stitches in for about five days, I had to get them removed in an LA clinic, where in addition to me having to wait over an hour, even with an appointment, it cost me $125 for a process that took barely over a minute!
So with all the complaints about Obamacare, and Trump and Paul Ryan and a host of other dipshits coming close to admitting that the very people that put them into office are the ones most likely to get stricken off the ranks of the insured if this “new improved” plan goes through, I count my lucky stars I’m in a country that believes its a right, not a privilege, to have government sponsored health care. Who knows how long that’s gonna last after Brexit, but for the time being, for all its faults, and the continual efforts of the Daily Mail to find those cases where NHS doctors screwed up in treatment of patients, the thing still works, and I’m thankful, for Eileen’s sake, that despite her suffering, she was mostly well cared for.
I’m sure she’s looking down (from where I truly don’t know!), and thinking “Goddam, I got outta there just in time! Really? Donald Trump? Brexit? UKIP? Not the world I know.” No one should ever have to go through what she did, but I can certainly see the silver lining in that cloud.