On Dignity

me-bonesI have so many things to say they jam up my brain sometimes. I have even more I want to learn, and then pass on. I have so many things to care about. In July my health insurance is getting cut off. I have looked through my options and concluded that for now, I have none. I make very little money, as a result, I haven’t had a place to live since 2009. It is too little to afford insurance (& I suspect next year I will have to start paying penalties for that fact). But at about 20-25k a year and no address, there is no assistance for me.

I could give up my career and look for a job, but there’s no jobs, and I don’t handle offices well. And frankly, I like my career. It doesn’t pay much, but I believe what I do is important and not many people can or will do it. We spend a lot of time equating financial success with meaningful work, and both with deserving healthcare, but I think all of that is bullshit, and I won’t live my life that way.

No; giving up being me is not an option. I am not a shiftless and lost person. I am busy, and involved and I live with tremendous purpose and hope. But I live in a society that does not value me. That doesn’t mean I don’t, though.

I’m 40 now. In many ways it feels like the beginning. I have tons of energy, I know my life’s work. It’s not easy, and I don’t know if I can get all the things I need to done, but it’s coming together. It was a hard fucking road here. Strange and hard beyond what most people imagine a life can be. For getting here, I’m grateful. This is also a time when the body changes, when medical considerations change. I’ll do the health things that make sense to do without insurance, I still love and value my life and want all of it I can get. But I’m not bothering with a mammogram. What could I do about it anyway? I’d rather put my time and energy into my work, what time my society will leave me. Because I live in a society that has decided people like me should die if they get ill.

But I still have choice in how that happens. If I get a lump in my breast or a hole in my heart or gut, I’m not going to spend my precious remaining time begging for help from the public or indifferent bureaucracies, while I get weaker and drown in pain. I watched people beg for scraps from an America that doesn’t care about them. You may have chosen that I will die, America, but I don’t have to be polite about it.

When the time comes that I am out of options and facing illness, I intend to dictate and write the final notes on I can on my work, and then take my own life before disease and indifference do. I would go out of this world the same way I came in — screaming and strong.

Fuck dying quietly.

3 thoughts on “On Dignity

  1. MadameFLY

    Well said, Quinn. Take heart: if your genes are decently strong, and you stay out of the path of speeding automobiles … you’ll likely do fine, just like people did before the current perfect health obsession overtook us. Yes, people died young, but many were on the job in some factory when it happened, or homesteading in a remote place where a misdirected ax stroke could spell the end. Two things I’m OK with: we cannot live forever, and we cannot be perfectly safe while we live. What we *can* do is express our will and live our lives as we feel called to do, and make a difference when we get the opportunity. I think you are doing these; I think you’ll be fine.

  2. Jay Stephens

    As a working guy, 40 this year, and having travelled a very hard road myself, but always in countries with good, free, socialised healthcare for myself and my kids, this is sobering and upsetting to read.

  3. Glenn Dixon


    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. 🙂

    I think that there is a seed of an answer to your dilemma in Jay’s comment. We spent most of 2012 in Mexico and enjoyed very low cost health care and crazy-low expenses. We were on the internet all day, every day (generally speaking). This works very well for writers, poker players, designers, developers, etc. It could present a problem if you require physical presence in the USA for other reasons, but may offer you a choice when it comes to health issues. My wife’s experiences w/ Mexican health care were quite the eye-opener. It is very refreshing when health is treated as a human right.

    Email me if you want more info – I have tons of resources and am working on an ebook on the topic.

    Quinn here: Thanks for the offer. For now moving away isn’t an option without leaving my daughter, but I can imagine leaving once she’s grown.

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