[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]
“If” has only two letters, but it’s a big word.
If I hadn’t been such a neatnik that I arose from my hospital bed in September 1969, three days after giving birth by Caesarean section, to tug at the heavy footboard because the bed wasn’t perfectly parallel to the wall — the inner stitches wouldn’t have opened, I wouldn’t have sustained undetected internal bleeding for the next four days, they wouldn’t have given me two units of blood after cleaning out the hemorrhage, blood contaminated with Hepatitis C, which no one had yet identified or been able to screen for, and I wouldn’t have ever after tired more easily and earlier in the day than most other people. Since 2004, when an alert nurse practitioner picked up on slightly elevated liver function numbers and tested me for Hep C, I wouldn’t also have had to abstain from drinking, take not even a sip, or use vanilla extract without alcohol in it – for the rest of my life.
Could I wish one of those outcomes away, it would be the fatigue. I was never a big drinker, which may be why I’m still here at 84, with a liver that goes on doing an okay job even though it’s compromised. So I don’t miss the occasional glass of wine very much. I do wish I’d had the energy to use more of my life, the part not given over to raising children and earning a living, in productive and interesting ways.
Two “specialty” drugs just out are said to clear the virus in 90% of people with my Hep C genotype. One costs $84,000 for a twelve-week treatment and must be used with other drugs. The other works alone but costs $94,500 – about the cost of the first one plus the additional drugs it requires. Both have side effects difficult for the old to tolerate. I understand many insurance companies and Medicaid are restricting these drugs to the very sickest patients because of the cost. If I were younger, sicker, richer (three more “if”s), a doctor might write a prescription. I’m not any of those things.
All I did was straighten a bed. Who can predict what little thing we do will lead to what result? Life is unknowable, and we’re lucky to be here at all.