Friday, June 11, 2010

Dots & Blue Crosses

I have a problem with follow-through on details. It has plagued me constantly and just now has literally delivered a seriously painful blow to my groin.

By the terms of my divorce, my health insurance ended on September 30th last year and for the first time in my life, I was not covered. The application to continue was sitting on my desk partially filled out. Further incentive to cross the “T” had just been delivered a week earlier when (for just the second time in my life) I visited the ER for stitches from a soccer collision.

Still, there was music to play, essays to write, friends to see, stuff to do. Mostly, there was a roofing job that was getting me back in the construction business for much needed cash. I was working alone when a momentary lapse of concentration hurtled me 12 feet to the pavement below, straddling a ladder jack when I hit.

Without insurance, I took myself home and stoically tried to get through it on my own, thinking I had gotten off easy with the worst injury being a strained wrist. By dawn, my black swollen testicles were impossible to ignore and I gave myself up to the system. I remember the doctor sadly shaking his head to hear that I had waited on account of the little detail of insurance coverage.

He inserted two catheters and did the best he could to help my ruptured urethra, but removing one catheter two months later, the scar tissue completely closed off the channel, rendering the plumbing non-functional. A delicate operation is now required to open me again, a procedure that very few doctors have experience with, so I was referred to the Lahey Clinic outside of Boston and surgery was supposed to finally take place today.

While in the hospital in October, my application for new insurance was submitted and I returned home to recuperate. Confined to the couch, living alone and exerting enormous energy just to cross the room, I let the mail pile up, unaware that more information was needed for my application and too absent-minded from medication, pain and exhaustion to deal with it in any case.

By the time I was able to focus, I had to reapply, negotiate several bureaucracies, and constantly replenish a very limited supply of energy. Approval finally came in mid-February and coverage was re-instated on April 1st, well beyond the 63 days allowed by COBRA. The delay now qualifies my injury as “pre-existing” and requires a twelve month waiting period before any repair will be covered.

In the meantime, I have learned to live with a tube in my belly connected to a bag attached at my ankle. I have a constant infection, but to minimize resistance, can only have antibiotics when the fever spikes to a dangerous level. Even as I return to more normal activities after eight months, my energy is quickly depleted, and regularly showing more blood in my bag, I have to frequently return to my couch to rest.

Spasms constantly rip my groin, blinding me to the particular moment with a grimace that leaves me aching and breathless after it subsides. Medication reduces the frequency but not the intensity of these spasms, while also impacting my synapses, making me stretch for words in conversation and struggle to write these essays. Unable to really perform, I was relieved of my part-time job.

The location and sensitivity of the injury creates a challenge to adequately describe the emotional stress, but plays a huge factor in my state of mind. Each doctor has emphasized the importance of “exercising” the member to prevent atrophy to the cells, nerves and muscles in the penis. Without a girlfriend or “angel of mercy”, this requires an absurd reliance on Cialis and porn which is not at all a way I would like to be spending my time. With a tube and constant discomfort, the energy needed to muster the self-confidence to meet new people is just too much to bear, so I operate within the status quo and spend a lot of time alone, contemplating the significance of this injury to my second Chakra.

Currently, my case is under appeal to Blue Cross to be compassionate and allow the surgery to go forth. Unable to bear the burden of a $50,000 debt, I will otherwise have to wait the ten months when they will have to fund it anyway. Ironically, given the increase of scar tissue over that period, it will likely cost us all considerably more money, perhaps multiple surgeries and emotional damage, if it can still be repaired at all. Legislation is now passed, but not yet in effect, making this delay illegal, but for now it is their choice and no one seems willing to take the moral stand to relieve my suffering.

So many have it worse than me. My health can and eventually should be restored. It is a lesson to me to focus on the details, no matter the circumstances. I recognize and am ashamed of my share in the responsibility for the lapse in coverage, but at this point am willing to speak out for a better system.

In these last months, on faith, I collapsed into the physical and emotional part of the healing of this and left the financial details in the hands of the clinic who promised to sort them out. Having come so close to my vision of becoming unstuck, envisioning myself tubeless and recovering in the near future, having actually begun the fast required for the ten hours of anesthesia I should be tolerating right now instead of writing this, the letdown is devastating.

Once more the symbolism is as real and clear as the physical truth that I can make the effort to orgasm, but it is impossible right now to have the relief of ejaculation.

Please share with your friends


Ann Zuccardy said...

Speechless. I had no idea...thank you for sharing your story.

Amy Bielawski-Branch said...

Kip -- Ug. So sorry that you are going through all of this. I admire your ability to write about it, although I am guessing (hoping) that the writing is somehow cathartic for you. You are a good man -- strong, creative, wise. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts.


Tammy said...


With each passing day, I know you are physically and mentally worn out! I am so sorry to hear of this news.

Deni in Nebraska said...

Dude, dude, dude. Damn, damn, damn. Love, love, love.