Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Jerked Around

Do you know what it's like to be jerked around? If you don't, then you probably have a strong and healthy sense of self, which is what I seek.

This morning I was officially Jerked Around, although until recently I would not have recognized it as such. I drove The Child to his playdate, and upon returning home I found a message on my answering machine. (Yes, I prefer to use an old-fashioned answering machine, because I can add music to my outgoing message.)

The message was from a neutral-sounding woman from American Community Health Insurance, whose underwriters are reviewing my application for catastrophic insurance, which is no-frills health insurance with an extremely high deductible. For the first time in my life, I am uninsured because the organization I worked for has shut down. I now lack income, health insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, life insurance. I am seeking catastrophic insurance not really to pay for medical expenses, but to protect my assets. All of us have heard horror stories of families forced into bankruptcy by astronomical medical expenses, and I seek to avoid that. I can't afford the premiums for traditional medical insurance for myself and The Child- the monthly expense would be close to $1,000- so catastrophic insurance, with its cheaper premiums, is my only viable option.

Well, the message on the answering machine stopped my heart from beating. I had been worried, because I submitted my application quite a while ago and never heard anything. I was beginning to suspect that my application would be rejected. I was also disappointed, because I had been looking forward to spending some time on my patio interacting with the squirrels, chipmunks, hummingbirds, blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers. Now, instead, I had a potential crisis to deal with.

I called the number the insurance woman left on the answering machine, and of course I was sent to voice mail. Trying to sound cheerful and nonchalant, I told her voice mail that I was now reachable at the phone number she had called.

Then I waited. And waited. My serenity was out the window, of course, as was my hope of spending the remainder of the morning enjoying nature on my patio. I tried to sit outside and read the newspaper (yes, I'm old-fashioned regarding my newspapers too), but I couldn't concentrate.

Time stopped. I sat there. I paced. I fretted. And eventually the phone rang, an eternity later. My heart raced, yet I let it ring a couple of times so she wouldn't think I was too eager, and therefore suspicious.

She probably wondered why I was out of breath- I tried to mask it, because her insurance company wouldn't want to take me on if they thought I had breathing problems. My breathing accelerated when she informed me that the conversation was being recorded. I covered the mouthpiece of the phone so she wouldn't hear my breathing.

She started her questioning about blood pressure, physical exams and the like. I told her I've never been the type to run to the doctor for every little cough or sore throat- I'm the opposite of a hypochondriac. I didn't even remember the name of the doctor who had done my one and only physical exam 5 years ago, but I did remember that my bloodwork was stellar, and that doctor, whoever he was, surely had glowing reports of me in his records.

After a few brief questions, she was ready to hang up. I wouldn't let her go, though- I felt it necessary to convince her of my worthiness- I wanted her to know that the reason I had applied for the catastrophic policy is because I never needed doctors, never had health problems, never had any accidents, never even broke a bone, and I knew I didn't really even need any insurance, etc. I probably sounded like a lawyer desperately trying to plead my case. She undoubtedly thought I was some kind of nut and wondered how I'd get by without the mental health coverage I used to have.

Finally the ordeal ended. I hung up the phone, vastly relieved. Now I could get back to the life I wanted to live.

That's when I realized that I had just been Jerked Around.

This is a big theme in my life. And it's not about the Jerkers. It's about me. The insurance woman, unwittingly functioning as a Jerker, was simply doing her job and was not intending to harm me in any way. But her phone message had sent me into a tailspin, temporarily turning my life upside down and inside out. I had decided, upon hearing the woman's phone message, that suddenly things were not OK and I was not OK. My life had been ruined. I tossed away my plans for the morning, I became nonfunctional, and gloom prevailed.

During the time between receiving her message and hanging up the phone after talking with her, I was totally immersed in Jerked Around state. And I couldn't see it until it was over.

My goal is to strengthen my sense of self to the point where I am unaltered by people, places, things, or events. When sh** does happen, I want to be the eye of the hurricane. I want to be strong within myself, to the point where I will always be OK, knowing that all is well at all times.


Nancy said...

I went through that too. Lost all insurance and have in place a catastrophic policy that covers nil until I am on a deathbed.

Even that is $175 a month.

I feel for you ... doesn't seem fair does it?

I try not to get bitter at the fact that if I became a non-productive person living "off the system" I would have great coverage. (I know someone on the dole and I hate hearing about all the things she gets covered ... grrrrr.)

Loving Annie said...

Your goal is an excellent one, Betty. A sense of self is so important, so vital to the ability to be resilient and cope and calm, so that a crisis is seen as a manageable problem.
Once you've identified what you do, that's when you can start toi change things, baby step by bay step.
Not having insurance SUCKS. I hope they give it to you.
And if that company doesn't, there is a good chance another one will.

Kacey said...

Don't worry, Honey....once you get to fifty-five, AARP will be all over you like white on rice begging you to please, please buy their insurance for health, homeowner's, auto and anything else you can think of. They have lovely rates and once you have given in and signed on the dotted line... the rates start soaring every six months, but not until it is too late to get another company!
(Don't tell anyone, but isn't being jerked a cute synonym for masterbation?)

Betty said...

Dear Nancy,

Yep, I know what you mean. It's better not to think about it....

Hugs and good health,

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

If I can manage to effectively deal with the sense of self issue, I think many other issues will just fall into place.

And I think I will be accepted into the insurance policy I applied for- they just make it as nerve-racking as possible. The policy is so lousy that if I'm rejected, it's no great loss. I wish I had applied for a bttter policy anyway.


Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

Your sense of humor is impressive! I never would have thought of either of your comments!

I've always wondered what AARP actually does. I didn't realize they sold insurance. Too bad it's not a viable option, the way they snare you and then jack up the rates....


Big Dave T said...

Here in Michigan I believe the state mandates that BC/BS have an affordable plan for those who have no health care coverage. We're worried about our son who will soon be too old to be covered by our health care plan and he has back problems now.

I'm reading back here where you said you drove your son to his playdate. That reminded me of a George Carlin rant that I heard on HBO last night, one of the last specials he did before he passed away. He had a routine on kids and play. Have you heard it? Boy, I didn't realize how bitter he'd become in his "elder years."

Betty said...

Dear Big Dave,

I wish I lived in Michigan. I know you pay the price in cold temperatures and snowfall, though.......

No, I haven't heard that George Carlin rant. I can just imagine. I'd probably find it quite amusing even though it's undoubtedly directed at the likes of me!


Monogram Queen said...

I hope you get the coverage and you have the right attitude. At least you recognize when you are jerked around!
I am so sorry about the job and the loss of "the house".

Betty said...

Dear Patti,

Thank you. It seems like a lot of loss at one time, doesn't it?

It'll all work out, though.


Mary Ann said...

I so know how you feel. I've been uninsured, too, at one point in my life and it was scary. I found myself hesitating to drive during rush hour for fear someone would crash into me. I was frozen in place.

Interestingly, in my quest for just any job so that I could get coverage while building up my freelance business, I found a really nice job that I like... working for a hospital organization that provides medical care for the uninsured. Weird how things work out sometimes.

Now the first job I got there was a little embarrassing. What I did was ok, but I hated to tell people what I did, who I was, in terms of job title. But a couple years later, I got promoted, and a couple years after that, promoted again.

Takes forever when you start low in an organization for people to see who you really are. But I had coverage and I learned I'm not what I do or what I'm called, I'm who I am, regardless.

So the best thought I can offer on this topic is not to focus on buying individual coverage, focus on finding group coverage again, any ole way you can. Forget career path, just let go of it. Think of a career path as a rut. Think off the path. My two cents.

You go girl!

Mary Ann said...

Not that I feel strongly about it, or anything. hehe

Betty said...

Dear Mary Ann,

"I learned I'm not what I do or what I'm called, I'm who I am, regardless." That's exactly what I want to learn and BELIEVE. Your first job for that hospital organization taught you a great life lesson, apparently. I do know that our lessons can be learned in unexpected ways, in unexpected circumstances.

I'm open!


Lynilu said...

I'm in the same boat, Betty. I left a job when my hub was very ill, did the COBRA for the duration, then looked for insurance. I found some but it was costly, large deductible and they excluded the two more important things I might need treatment for (although I never did). But I stuck it out for 4 years, the only bills they paid were my annual check and one very inexpensive medication, yet raised my premium every January, just like clockwork. Finally a year ago I said "BS!!!!" I was paying $600+/mo for just me and with a $2500 deductible!! I have a little coverage with AARP, and god-forbid I get really sick before next April when I will be 65!

I am going to look into what is provided by the State, and I hope it will be affordable. You're not alone in this. There are more Americans in this boat than one can imagine. It really sucks.

Good luck.

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

$600/month seems awfully steep! Yes, this is one of the potentail problems of living in the U.S. This is the first time in my life that I've experienced this, so I'm lucky!


Laurie said...

Oh Betty :( I so wish I could just
wave a magic wand and make things
better. I hope for the best ALWAYS!


Betty said...

Thank you, Laurie. I truly appreciate your support.

Everything will be all right, I'm sure.


Anonymous said...