How America Tried to Kill Me and Failed (Part 1)

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America today is no place to be old or sick.—SW

First off, thanks for buying and actually reading my books, visiting my Web site, consulting me for advice and readings, participating in my New Astrology™ Facebook application, and coming to my Myspace page and trudging through my Amazon blog and writing to me and stuff …

I haven’t communicated much since before July. You must be wondering what happened to my summer.

Might sound weird, but I too am wondering what the hell happened to my summer.

Looking back, I can recall no impromptu jaunts to steaming hot beaches, no refreshing dips in the Mediterranean, no gourmet meals in elegant restaurants, not a single barbecue or picnic or walk in the woods. All I remember doing between July and now is hitting these damnable keys thousands of time every day in order to rewrite the first book I ever wrote (in 1975!) about Chinese Astrology—in French!

What I did with my summer could just as well have been done in the winter. I stayed indoors. I hardly ever got out of my nightgowns (the better to keep me indoors writing). I visited four different peoples’ houses for pleasant French family dinners. I drove to Bargemon (a nearby village) once to have lunch with my California friend, Elizabeth, who has a lovely house with a handsome swimming pool and a sweet new French husband to match. So much for summer entertainment.

Oh yes, and besides writing, I trudged to about ten different doctors, hospitals, clinics, radiology centers, and blood test labs in pursuit of an overall picture of my current health.

As many of you know, I had breast cancer twice. That was about thirty years ago.

My first breast cancer operation took place in New York. When I got home from New York Hospital, I received a postcard telling me that my excellent health insurance company—Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NY—had cancelled my excellent health insurance policy.

Why? (That was my first reaction too.) Why in the name of good common sense would an insurance company cancel someone’s paid up policy just after they had had a mastectomy and were on the brink of a year’s chemotherapy? I mean, why bother to buy insurance if it cancels you when you get sick?

It took me months to find out the answer. Of course I had to get a lawyer. Blue Cross/Blue Shield would neither talk to me on the telephone nor would they answer my letters.

For the sake of brevity, I will tell you why they claimed they cancelled me. They said that there was information in my hospital record, which indicated that I had had breast cancer three years earlier—hence, their excuse was that I had a pre-existing condition and had therefore lied when I applied for the insurance two years before.

My lawyer friend (a saint!) told them that if I had had cancer three years before and had not been treated, I would very likely not have been alive to lie on any insurance applications.

But they didn’t want to hear what my lawyer had to say. In those days, (no joke) a patient was not allowed to obtain his or her hospital record. Only a lawyer (or the person’s doctor) was allowed to have copies. So my lawyer friend went directly to the hospital to fetch a copy of the record in question.

It was true. In the record, was a scribbly entry in scrawly handwriting that said “Ca 1976” or something very close to that. (I have all the files here somewhere) This utterly false entry was written by a very sleepy young man in a white coat. His name was/is R.P. (Please note, name has been removed.)

R.P. was handsome and swaggery young. He had come around with a clipboard and flapping white coat when I was first in the hospital bed the day before my operation. His job was to take my history. R.P. asked me a slew of questions. Did I have a history of heart disease or diabetes? What childhood illnesses and surgical interventions had I suffered? The normal questions. I answered all of them honestly.

He then asked if there was cancer in my family. I told him that my sister had died of breast cancer in 1976. He wrote down something. The poor boy appeared to be asleep on his feet. I figured he was one of those overworked twenty-four hour-on-call intern people. But, it turns out this R.P. character was not a doctor. R.P. was just a cute medical student on loan from Georgetown Medical School to New York Hospital for a summer’s apprenticeship in ruining people’s lives.

Blue Cross had used R.P.’s false information to cancel my contract.

Part 1 | Part 2



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