12 June 2007

The moral of the story is that we're amped for Sicko

I rang in the goddamn 2001 New Year watching a giant blizzard from my hospital bed; for 2 weeks doctors had no clue what was wrong with me. They had me on blood thinner first then thought I might have cancer... they were really shooting fish in a barrel and it was f*cking scary to feel so helplessly at the mercy of these dudes who are supposed to know it all. They had medical students coming to poke me with ish.

The height of the lunacy was when the vampire who came two or three times a day to draw my blood couldn't find a vein, for some reason he decided that if he raised my bed up it would be easier. The dude cranked my bed almost to the ceiling of my room! I felt like I was on the top of a bunk bed and I'm dangling my arm down so this nut can find a vein. It was quickly becoming a Chevy Chase movie.

Just when it couldn't possibly get any worse an awesome cardiothoracic surgeon figured out I had pleurisy and basically saved my life. Pleurisy is basically really bad pneumonia; like really, really bad. I'd never heard of pleurisy and thought it sounded like something they'd come down with on Little House or something.

I was told most people don't get pleurisy these days because the pain becomes too unbearable before it advances to that stage, but since I'm such a rugged hard-ass I bared the pain for almost a week before I surrendered that something was wrong; that dangerous stoic gene had been passed down on my fathers side (along with my hairline) where I won't go see a doctor unless there's lots of blood and its pouring out of my eyes or ears and even then, I'll go begrudgingly. The pain was insane in the membrane; every breath I took felt like I was being stabbed in the ribs; I couldn't laugh, I couldn't cough, I could only take very, very shallow breaths.

I can vividly remember eating a sangwich alone in my old office at the radio station overlooking the traffic on 57th street and seriously thinking that I was going to die. I was scared ishless. So, a few nights later, we went to the hospital haha.

ANYWAY, I'd just started working a new gig............ a union gig in radio, but naturally my benefits hadn't kicked in yet. In fact, I think they kicked literally 2 or 3 days after I was released from the hospital a month and change later. I had chest tubes up the wazoo, 2 or 3 operations, the works. It was a mess. All told I think I'd amassed close to $170,000 in medical bills that I was 101% uninsured for. I had nothing.

It was ironic because a year or two prior I had written an album of songs basically about this exact situation; healthcare in the U.S. and such. My dad would be diagnosed with cancer around the same time we were writing the record about conspiracies within the healthcare industry and the mammoth revenue from treatments rendering absolute cures dangerous because of catastrophic loss of cash. The theories aren't all that hard to comprehend, it's not like UFO's and the Lochness Monster. Let's say someone had a cure for AIDS; you swallow a pill and you're cured. Even if the pill cost one million dollars, these huge corporations would lose so much money that it makes a cure nearly unimaginable. SO much revenue is made on keeping people alive (which is different than curing them); treating their disease; extending their life while still infected not on CURING them and sending them off with a clean bill of health.

Why would I wanna sell you a single pill that will cure you for good when I can treat you and sell you a million pills over and over and over again while you slowly die? It's completely f*cked but it's possible; tragically it's not too far fetched a theory to believe. And I ain't the only one thinking this ish.

I was writing songs about cancer and these same theories; that cancer treatment is so lucrative that a cancer cure would cripple the industry. Without sounding too catch-phrasey, for these merciless companies; pain is profit and health is poverty. Get it?

The whole thing about if you're poor you'll die is a bunch of bullsh*t however. They treated me and asked questions later. If you're left on the doorstep of a hospital with a bullet in your eyeball, you will be treated, they aren't going to let you die or ask for your insurance card before they operate. That's a souped up extreme myth of the left to try and prove an extreme point.

OK, fair enough.

The best part was, we were able to talk the insurance company down from $170,000 to a little more than 10% of my bill and they were happy; which is totally insane and speaks volumes. If there were willing to take that, how much of my bill was just total bullsh*t?! How much of bill wasn't necessary if they were willing to play let's make a deal rather than eat the entire costs?

I've traveled all over the world; being on tour means fistfights, food poisoning, earaches and gashes from guitars colliding with heads on stage so I've seen the white walls of many a foreign hospital. For all the times any of us ever visited a hospital in Europe (or anywhere outside of the U.S. for that matter), we were never charged a dime. We were treated and released; prescribed medicine for free; stitches for free; crutches for free; casts for free; wheelchairs for free; all of it. No charge, no questions asked, ever. MAYBE they'd photocopy your passport if they were in a bad mood; otherwise they fixed you up and sent you packing. I recall one time we even bought amoxicillin over-the-counter in Spain just because we could.

So, yeah. The rest of the world definitely has it down right and actually respects the Hippocratic Oath whereas the U.S. only respects the mighty dollar.

ANYWAY, we're all excited for Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko" which comes out June 29. Here's an interview with Michael Moore from The Times.

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