Today I failed as a New Yorker. I'm not proud of it. I am, in fact, more than a bit ashamed of myself. But I can't avoid the truth.

Today I lost it on the subway.

I was that guy. The one causing the disturbance.

I take the A train downtown to work. The A train has the longest gap between stations in the New York subway system - it goes express from 125th street to 59th street. I get on at 207th. I was in a crappy mood - I'm not feeling well, I haven't slept in a few days, and got a phone call in the middle of the night last night telling me my father has gone into the hospital with a stroke - and at 9 am, I have to be downtown to get a frigging physical. My doctor being really busy, if I miss this checkup appointment not only will I pay a penalty for not warning them but it might take another three weeks to make a new one.

So I'm already wound up a little tight. I'm holding my first cup of coffee of the day - the bakery I buy it at in the morning serves it hot, so it's safer to let it cool on the way downtown and drink it around 42nd street.

At 145 St., the train gets moderately full. As we pull away, I notice a loud voice. After a few seconds, I realize that someone just a couple people away from me is preaching. Hard. About JE-sus and how he LOVES me, and how otherwise I'm going to BURN, especially if I'm one of those filthy JEWS that killed the SON OF GOD.

And on, and on, and on.

Everybody does what New Yorkers do - ignores the guy. He doesn't seem to mind. He ends up migrating with the crowd in the car until he's standing just to the right of where I'm sitting, back against the car door, going on at length about how my SOUL is DOOMED but not to worry, because JESUS LOVES me. And so forth.

Now, normally, I can ignore these guys. Or have fun arguing with them. But this guy is really into it, and I have a headache, and the subway car is packed - and somehow, seeing that crowd of New Yorkers with the resigned look on their faces...I don't know. I stood up, backed the guy into the door, and said (loudly) "I don't give a shit if Jesus loves me, but I do know that he wants it a bit more FUCKING QUIET!"

No response. The guy keeps ranting, desperately avoiding looking me in the eye. He's about a foot shorter than me, and weighs maybe 1/3 what I do.

I give him one more glare and slight shove. "Nobody wants to fucking hear it, man."

A hand on my shoulder. I spin. It's another guy, slightly taller than me, a bit younger. "I do. He's got the right."

"H's got the right to shout in my ear all the way downtown about the Jews?"

"Yeah, man." We stare at each other for a second. The preacher hasn't slowed down. Then the other guy's face softens a bit. "Listen to him, man. You can tell this isn't gonna stop."

I turn back, and at that moment, I realize - he's right. This guy isn't just preaching. He's completely out of his mind. He's panicked, because I have him trapped, and he's responded by grabbing at my throat and stepping up his entreaties to Jesus and the Lord God our savior.

I gently detach his hand and step back. The younger guy says "Have a seat, man." He's threatening me, not with violence, but with a Situation between him and me, if I don't comply.

And he's right.

I sit down, nod, and drink my coffee, still furious, now at least half furious at myself.

A couple stops later, the younger guy moves to the door next to me for his station. He looks down. "Have a good day, brother."

I manage to look up, offer my hand. He shakes it. I tell him, "Thanks. I blew the New York Code. Thanks for stepping in."

He does smile then, and says "I'm not kidding. Jesus does love you. But most important, you have a better day, okay?"

Then he leaves.

I drink coffee, listen to the preacher, and shake my head.

Just to make matters worse, today was No Pants on the Subway Day, and I missed it.




I hate Anthem Health Care!



I'm going to moan for a second -

Chemo sucks! I have horrible side effects! I hate my insurance company! Suck suck suck! Hate hate hate!

Okay, enough of THAT.

Pacificare insurance, which I had when I was originally diagnosed, covers cancer treatment. All of it. Fully covered. No co-pay, no nothing. Chemo was covered, surgery was covered. Pacificare, you rock - or at least then you did.

Then I was hired by Caltrans, and switched to Blue Cross Blue Shield. In order to keep my same group of docs, I had to get the PPO - the most expensive health care option - large deductible, etc. Paid out the nose for premiums, payed the deductible, payed the max out of pocket - for four years running, so far. But at least I got all the care my docs recommended.

Now a few months ago, Blue Cross became Anthem Blue Cross - and for the first time drugs and procedures recommended by my doctors have been denied. One of them is an anti-nausea drug that was working really well. "The nausea should be controlled by a more cost-efficient alternative." Well, it isn't, you bastards, and if my appeal doesn't overturn that decision, both wertperch and I are going to get mean. Quickly. We'll see how this appeal process works - WATCH THIS SPACE.

I don't think whoever made this decision has any concept of what weekly chemotherapy is like. "Moderate" nausea? No, that's car sickness. Try severe. Or maybe extreme. Try you can't function - drive, go to work, go more than half a block from a convenient, private bathroom. It was well controlled by the drug which I WAS getting, NOT so well controlled by the "more cost-efficient" alternative. What in the hell are you people thinking?

I trust the decision will be overturned. Otherwise I'm going to start a big tantrum. Big. With reporters. And my union. And an angry wertperch - believe me, they'd rather talk to me, and make a different decision. And nasty letters from all of you. Thanks in advance, just in case I need it.

/end rant

Other than that, I'm not sure if I'm really in the home stretch now, or not. I have a CT scan this week, and hopefully all those lymph nodes are getting smaller. - and if they are, I might do an extra round or two beyond the fourth one. A fifth round - making it six more chemo sessions, taking me into March, or a fifth and sixth, making it nine more rounds, going into April. If it's working, more of the same chemo, in the hopes of knocking the cancer out more completely. It would be easier to know that I just have the remaining three, but if it's really working seems like it's worth putting up with the additional chemo. It'll take 3-5 days after the CT to get the results, so I probably won't know the details until a week from Thursday...I think I can tolerate six more, not sure about nine more. The thing I hate about it the most is how it erodes my life - three or four days mostly sick and with no energy to do much of anything, and then two or three days of being sort of my normal self - but it gets shorter every week. And last week I had a sinus infection, so I was basically out of commission for 10 days. I feel as though I lost a year the first time around. This time I think (I hope) I will recover faster, but still, I don't feel like I've really gotten to live my life since October.

I will, however, trade two more months for the possibility of knocking the cancer out all the way.

"Moderate" nausea. Ha ha ha.

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