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When I was a baby, my parents thought I was autistic. In utero, I kicked so fiercely my mom had to go on painkillers, and although I was given the nickname of Bam-Bam there was a very real fear of side effects for fetal me. I was born on the small side, and didn’t speak until I was about 3, and stuttered heavily until I was about 5. But I was reading before kindergarten.

Which was doubly interesting as I had horrible eyes. When I was maybe 3 and a half, I had to undergo surgery for strabismus, wherein the muscle controlling the teamwork function of my eyes was born so underdeveloped, that for all intents and purposes it may as well have been nonexistent, leaving me with not one but two lazy eyes. The surgical procedure involved stretching a tendon, which I suspect would much later make me prone to migraines. I had to wear eyeglasses all the while growing up, and still probably should, but I gave up on them when I was 15, realizing the circles my parents had to dance through to pay for the fucking things. As a young man, I also gave up on dreams of being a graphic artist, as my eyesight continued to diminish. I used hatred for Big Oil as an excuse to never drive, but when a job demanded it I conned my way through driver exams.

Yet largely because I walked everywhere, often in situations where it would be two or three hours of travel time each way to and from work, I have maintained generally excellent health. I’ve had jobs where I was on my feet a lot, realizing at a young age that unless a job offered me mental exercise and/or physical exercise then I had no intentions of sticking around for very long, money be damned. Independence is always met with traction. Growing up so poor I could not afford to lose a fight, I was given no option but to see how nothing of the system exists to help any of its recipients.

I am the last guy in the world to go looking for a free ride. Never drawn unemployment in my life, never taken out a loan or anything of the sort. I never take more than I fundamentally need, but on the rare occasions where help is warranted and my arm can be twisted, generally by a comely female, doors slammed shut. I live accordingly, by fate and by design.

You do not call the police for any reason other than the desire to have your life suddenly and usually quite dramatically complicated. You do not possess a bank account or credit cards without paying out well and beyond your worth. And you do not go to a hospital unless you wish to be a lab-rat or guinea-pig sold drugs which you do not need, do not want and cannot afford. There is a world of dialogue right now about how screwy modern healthcare is, but the conversation is noticeably limited to the cost factors, of how exactly will precious insurance industries possibly make a buck or a billion, betting against life as they do. It slays me how some people can be aware of the many unethical immoralities of the pharmaceutical companies in every other regard, out of court settlements which match their marketing budgets, but will take them at face value when it comes to vaccinations. If vaccination works, then vaccinated, or indoctrinated rather, folks have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated. Literally each and every drug ever recalled by the FDA was previously condoned by that same FDA. There is never enough evidence to show what happens when doctor A prescribes you that for this, while doctor B prescribes you this for that, and how those drugs will react to one another. Or what the long-term side-effects might be after years of dependency. And hospitalists could not so blatantly care any less.

But the thing is, that the self-maintenance of my health allowed me to avoid doctors for all of my adulthood thus far. I got into a ton of fights throughout my 20s, sometimes work-related, sometimes strictly in self-defense walking home late at night from work through really rough neighborhoods. You hold a hammer on the city bus en route to your vocation, nobody thinks anything of it. You walk home from that shift at three in the morning with hammer in hand, and approaching people cross the sidewalk a block before they meet you, even if they’re a group. Still, I’ve had my nose broken many times, ribs cracked, blackened eyes, fractured wrists, etc. I never saw a doctor or went to a clinic for any of it. The hunger for self-education inadvertently enhances one’s acumen for self-medication. The only occasions where I sought professional assistance were dental emergencies. Mostly because of the incessant magnitudes of said fighting.

By my mid-20s I no longer had an unbroken tooth in my mouth. I had a wisdom tooth crack wide open once, apparently because there was an extra freak wisdom tooth which was not only growing directly into the first, but growing sideways into the first. I’ve had five or six more teeth pulled over the course of second and third emergencies years later. And I have had a few that were just busted out altogether. I went to dental schools for free but risky care, and on one occasion I cut a deal with a dentist to take over the landscaping of his office for a year in trade for three extractions. Which probably isn’t quite legal but it was a small town, and I ultimately gave double the value for my efforts. I make more and more deals along those lines, the older and more anti-establishment I get.

And meditation helps. Walking everywhere, stuck on shit jobs in a back corner scrubbing dishes for hours and months on end, allows the mind to wander. I was doing it as a kid without awareness that the act is apparently copyrighted by the bigger orthodox religions out there. The physical benefits are legitimately out of this world. I’ve been seeing doctors in recent weeks, for the first time since I was a boy. They all think I’m an android. As much coffee and smokes as I go through, and I’m more powerful than people taking their respective laundry lists of prescription pharmaceuticals.

Except for my eyes and my mouth.

On two separate occasions in recent years, I broke and signed up for Medicaid and Passport, and each time, within a month of registration, the related digital trail would mysteriously vanish. Talking with others, I believe this was due entirely to the things I write. Two million US citizens have lost their food stamps over the last year. Not because they somehow magically got a leg up or for whatever reasons just no longer require the assistance. They were just cut, and left by their own government to starve. And among those were persons unafraid of giving voice to the burning need for a better life, a better society. A very convenient form of censorship which not one voice in the media will ever acknowledge publicly.

As I relocated counties months ago, I signed up yet again, and am jumping on this shit before the taxes-paid insurance disappears thrice more. Next month I am having my jaw disconnected, so that an oral surgeon can cut into the bone to dig out the hooked root of a wisdom tooth which was completely smashed out maybe a couple years ago. He said my TMJ, which I was diagnosed with at aged 14 the last real time I saw a physician, is the most advanced arthritis he’s ever seen. I’m climbing walls. I worked as an actual gravedigger for several years. I’ve filled in as last-minute pall-bearer dozens of times, been to hundreds of burials. When I thought I was seeing a pattern to it all, I had to quit. But suffice to say I am unusually comfortable with the idea of death and dying. If the surgery gets botched, as happened with my mom’s knee replacement and her heart stint operation both, I could be left unable to speak or to eat solid foods. What coverage I do have at the moment will not provide for titanium screws or even a jaw-wiring. So very much can, and should all of history serve as any prologue, will go wrong.

Him gushing in amazement at my apparent ability to endure extreme levels of pain for years and years with no hint of my agony on display for those around me, and I swear as bad as my mouth looks I could hear the nurse’s panties moisten. Life is fucking ridiculous.