We spent most of last night at the emergency room with my mother-in-law. She suffered a massive stroke a number of years ago and lost almost all of her movement on her left side. As such, there are times where her muscles spasm uncontrollably and tighten to the point of unrelenting pain. Last night was one of those nights, even after three tablets of Percocet and whatever else they prescribed to her.
Eventually, we found ourselves working with a wonderful set of doctors until nearly 2:30 in the morning, who worked tirelessly to help cease her pain and loosen her muscles.
I watched as a nurse pumped her full of five syringes filled with pain meds. As he applied the first couple shots, the doctor jokingly told Mom, “We’re giving this to you slowly. We don’t want you to become a heroin addict.” She left after the first three shots and then came back a bit later with the nurse, who added two more dose.
None of it helped until they added an extra bag of some sort of fluid on top of the IV bag full of saline and another dose of something. Eventually, the pain subsided enough for them to send us home.
During that whole process, I just kept thinking that whatever had to happen to make her better, just give it to her. Only after the “patient relations representative” stopped by to make sure she had the right billing and insurance information did my mind drift to anything else.
My mother-in-law is one of the few people I would describe as salt of the earth. Just like anyone else, she has her moments where she’s less than perfect, but I could never imagine being anywhere as good in my life as she has been in hers. She taught grade school, worked with special needs children, taught Sunday School, ran the religious education program at multiple churches, took care of her own mother in the woman’s final days and basically lived the life of a saint. She is the kind of person who makes me want to be a better person, although I often feel unrelenting guilt in the fact that I’m not. (Catholic thing…) Despite all of these wonderful aspects of her life, she lives with us, on Medicare/Medicade and gets a small monthly stipend from the state for living expenses.
As drug after drug failed to help her, I worried for her as the cash register rang up charge after charge. She doesn’t need to worry that she’ll lose her home or that she’ll be prohibited from eating. And yet, that little bit of money helps her with things she doesn’t want to ask us for. Things like special sheets or nighttime pads for her bed. Occasionally, she’ll need a new nightgown, which is pretty much all she can wear these days. So often, she’ll say to us about some bill or another that she worries about costs and such. She will never go without, but she constantly worries that she’ll be “a burden,” a term that makes us absolutely purple with exasperation. Like she’s a heavy parcel and we’re a donkey.
It’s interesting to me that people who worry so much about how they impact other people’s lives are rarely the ones who should be worrying.
Shkreli, a.k.a. the “Pharma Bro” who issued prideful statements about his awesomeness while price-gouging people on critical drugs, was arrested Thursday on allegations of securities fraud, dating back to one of his earlier hedge-fund operations. The 32-year-old Shkreli has been freed on a $5 million bond, which is only a couple million bucks more than he dropped to buy the sole copy of the Wu Tang Clan’s latest album.
The New York Times paints the charges as pretty low-level stuff, but Bloomberg offers a more common term that is sure to rankle people more: Ponzi scheme. In either case, Shkreli has been living high off the hog on other people’s money. Worse, though, is that he has been doing it by playing God when it comes to medicines people desperately need.
Despite their free-market ethos, Republicans should hate this guy because he’s the exact model of what everyone else sees when they scream that we need to get the profit out of healthcare. Quiet, old, fat, white guys in a boardroom can at least offer the appearance of sober reflection and thoughtful expenditures on research and development.
Shkreli looks like the asshole kid who fucked up my order at Red Robin and then didn’t give enough of a shit to fix it. He is the human embodiment of that “not touching you, not touching you, not touching you” game your little brother used to play. (And, to be fair, when you have the FBI tweeting about a Wu Tang album, you essentially are asking for a kick in the balls.)
Sadly enough, Shkreli isn’t being drilled for his profiteering, robber baron crap, although the entire world seems to be taking joy in the fact that he was in cuffs. Hey, they got Capone through tax evasion. Maybe they get this nozzlehead for his shell game.
The more annoying problem is that Shkreli won’t really give us what we want. It’s the same argument I made about another witless asshole earlier this year. We want guys like Dylan Roof and Jeffrey Dahmer and Martin Shkreli to have this moment where they see the damage they have done and somehow repent. We want them to feel something other than that blind, selfish sense of whatever drove them to the point of subjugating others to their own craven needs.
And if you’re asking, “Did he really just list a mass shooter and a serial killer in the same sentence as this hedge-fund dick?”
The answer is yes, only this is so much worse.
Dahmer and Roof were damaged, broken people who perpetuated an evil for insane reasons: Roof believed that there was a race war coming and Dahmer took the “eat what you kill” movement way too far. Shkreli is exactly like those guys but lacks the excuse of insanity.
Ask any group of people the following questions:
- Would you murder people, lobotomize them with acid, have sex with their corpses and then eat/store parts of them?
- Do you believe that Armageddon is coming in the form of a race war and that you are required to be a human vessel of rage that takes out as many of “the coloreds” as possible prior to the death of the White Race?
- Do you believe that it’s OK to make a ton of money?
The answers will probably be:
- Jesus, God, no, you sick bastard!
- Jesus, God, no, you sick bastard! Or… Uh… Um… What did my kid say at school? (Depending on whom you ask.)
- Of course!
Shkreli’s pathology is acceptable because we don’t see a problem with capitalism really emerges in a truly untenable and disgusting way (a.k.a. Pharma Bro-ness). We also don’t see the human cost of an elderly woman, writhing in pain when she’s in a hospital bed, begging for the pain to stop and again writhing in pain when she gets the mail next month.
Speaking of mail, I got a new insurance card in the mail earlier in the week. It upped my copays and added a few more.
I wonder if the people at Universal Healthcare are into Wu Tang…