practicing avoidance

i find it best to not dwell on it.

but the sad fact is, it’s more than likely that i could have avoided the agony of living with cancer the last five-plus years had i gone to the doctor when i first noticed the unusual mole on my thigh.

but i didn’t. because i didn’t have health insurance.

i was incredibly lucky to have started a job just a few months before my diagnosis, and even luckier to work for an organization that treated me with great compassion and understanding as i navigated the early days full of pain and fear.

my benefits started mere days before i went to the doctor. and if i’d waited much longer – even a few weeks – i might not be here today.

it’s easy for a 20something to feel invincible, to ignore repeated pleas from those older (and, i now know too late, wiser) to at least get catastrophic coverage, just in case. before i was diagnosed, my musical instruments were better insured than my own body.

from today, those of you without insurance have six months to apply under the affordable care act. you can check out marketplace details, state by state, at

please, please, PLEASE do so.

yes, the expense will seem a burden.

but without insurance, my medical bills total over THREE MILLION DOLLARS.

how’s that for a burden?

i would have been eligible for emergency medicaid, but only after paying out of pocket for the first six months – and those first six months weren’t cheap.

if i’d had that cursed mole removed early, it’s entirely possible:

i wouldn’t have holes all over my body.
i wouldn’t be missing nerves in my legs and shoulder.
i wouldn’t have permanent skin damage from radiation.
i wouldn’t have to deal with chronic lymphedema.
i wouldn’t have been forced to derail my budding career.
i wouldn’t have to endure semi-annual colonoscopies.
i wouldn’t be dependent on pain medication to make it through the day.
i (probably) wouldn’t have torn my ACL.
i (probably) wouldn’t be on anti-depressants and atypical anti-psychotics.

and: i wouldn’t live in constant, oft-crippling fear that my cancer will come back.

speaking of which: for the last three weeks, i’ve been dealing with near-constant nausea and a mild, light-headed wooziness. it’s more than likely nothing, but after three weeks of discomfort i’m meeting with my gastroenterological oncologist (because of course i have one of those) on friday to most likely schedule (yet another) dual endoscopy. i’m not due for a scan until november, and the scans don’t really do the best job examining my fuzzily metabolic innards, so, once again, it’s up the down staircase.

seriously, you guys. get insured.

if republicans are willing to shut down the government to block it, you know it must be worthwhile.


3 Responses to “practicing avoidance”

  1. Laurel L says:

    Amen to that Jonah! If only…
    I’m sorry for all that you and those who love you have been through.
    I am grateful for your strong spirit, Jonah,
    and for your eloquence that has and will continue to change lives.
    Please let us know how your dr appointment goes.
    I hope it’s nothing to worry about.

  2. Montag says:

    I read your post “Oh, Death…”, then thought of Ralph Stanley, then the scene from “O, Brother, Where Art Thou?”

    Your last sentence in this post about the Republicans is good; shows you have your sense of humor.

    I was staying nearby D.C. during the week of Debt Default Thursday, and the cable broke, so no news, so I had nothing in the morning to give me the jitters except coffee.

    It was good to be free of concern for a while. Your advice on insurance is good. Your painting Hand in Hand III glows like new sun over a newly discovered exo-planet.

  3. ginger kossow says:

    So how is the woozie/lightheadedness now??

    Let us who aren’t on Facebook or Instagram or?? not sure what all is out there, but hope you are well and just busy preparing for Halloween, moving etc.

    Love you loads,


    Did you hear – we are great grandparents – and you will be an Uncle b4 2 long!