“I have no idea what the problem is,” I said. “All I know is that I break a sweat, feel kind of nauseous, and have a pressure-like feeling in my chest.” I was talking to my oncologist during my once-per-month oncology appointment.
“Let’s take a listen to your heart.” he said, explaining that I just gave him a typical set of symptoms of a heart attack. After looking at the results of my earlier in the day blood test and listening to my chest with his stethoscope, he relieved me by saying that no, it didn’t appear that I was having a heart attack. “So, tell me. What’s going on in your life.” he said.
“Well, my house is ripped apart as a remodel goes on, my car needs new tires and an alignment after my wife clipped a curb by mistake a few months back, I just totally emptied my bank account helping to pay for the remodel and now have no safety net at all financially, my pain levels have gone up quite a bit in the last few weeks, and my stomach has been giving me a lot of trouble and my prostate is interfering with my ability to relieve myself. Oh, and the sweats I get have actually been happening for a couple of weeks now. There’s more, but that will do for a start.”
“Well, I can help you with the pain and we can see what’s happening with your stomach –and why you keep getting sweats, but it sounds to me like you need to find a way to reduce the stresses on your life. Stress is a killer and it sure looks to me like it has you targeted.”
“Oh, good.” I said, accepting an appointment card for a nuclear medicine scan of my gastric system.
“I’m gonna start you on some Lorazepam too, to help you with the stress thing. Stop by the pharmacy on your way out. Oh, give the lab a urine sample too.” He turned away; I was dismissed till next time. My wife pushed me and my chair down to the parking lot and we drove home.
That night, I listened to Mitt Romney saying that he didn’t care about people like me, and then heard that the Republicans filibustered the Jobs Program for returning veterans, effectively killing it for at least a year. Along the way hearing a number of Republican party members comment that they thought that vets were a part of the entitlement programs killing the economy. I sat on my bed shaking my head and wondering aloud “how am I supposed to limit my stress levels listening to crap like this?” I have no idea what happened to my fellow Republicans, but I find myself eyeing the Democratic party as a possible stress reducer. Cripes, Republicans are supposed to be the national defense party, why are they turning their back on us vets?” I changed the channel and watched a horrible movie trying to get my mind off of the tremendous disappointment I was feeling.
It’s kind of hard, given my cancer and the symptoms and pain it inflicts, for me to put on a happy face and ignore my troubles. I guess I’m feeling a bit betrayed at a time I should be grinning from ear to ear over the good fortune the VA has visited on me of late. But atop my own troubles, my empathy for my fellow veterans is already smarting when I think of how many vets don’t qualify for the benefits I think they deserve. Thinking that their lot just got worse and my own situation may be threatened besides is pretty darned wearing.
I guess I’ll take one of those pills they gave me now.