If anybody knows of a psychiatrist who makes house calls, send him by. Okay? I'm not kidding. You see I live in Great Incorporations, Inc., Grincsinc for short. It is ruled by powerful businesses (grincs) that owe no allegiance to communities, customers or employees. The grincs are only beholding to stockholders, which is the one category that I can't manage to stay in. Every time I save up enough money to buy a little bit of stock, I end up selling it shortly afterwards to pay increasing costs for community services, consumer goods and employee benefits. Living in Grincsinc offers luxurious creature comforts and abundant financial rewards. The downside can be disabling stress. Uh-oh. There it goes again. Wait a second, while I lie on the couch and start from the beginning.
When I was a child, the grincs had not yet conquered medicine. Doctors made house calls, and my pediatrician was my hero. My mother used to recount his caring and decisiveness. I still remember one story about my birth, when I didn't seem particularly interested in breathing. Then there was an incident at two years old, in the midst of life threatening pneumonia, fever and convulsions, when they couldn't get me to quit singing "Frosty the Snowman." Back then I wanted to be a missionary doctor when I grew up. I changed my mind, however, upon hearing scary stories of what can happen to missionary doctors.
My first stress attack came about two decades ago when medical insurance grincs refused to pay for the delivery of my first child. Even though the procedure had been pre-approved, the grincs decided afterwards that they could not reimburse people for births at new alternative birthing centers -- even if they were adjacent to the hospital, used the same hospital staff, cost half as much and were healthier for mother and baby. My distraught wife had to send a letter to inform me because I was stationed aboard a military aircraft carrier at the time. We were defending oil grincs from a rebellious Persian regime. I began to imagine that the fleet was actually stationed off the coast of Southern California. Diplomats were delivering ultimatums to defiant medical insurance tyrants holed up in towering office buildings....
That was a tough one, but I made it through, put off my plans to buy stock and used the money to pay the doctor instead. Did that with all of the other kids, too. I figured out that if I paid the doctor $100 a month from the time that I learned my wife was pregnant, then the bill would be almost taken care of by the time of delivery. That was before Grincsinc reformed the health care system. Since then, I've spent lots of quality stress time with collection agencies. Like the time when my medical grincs refused to reimburse the hospital for x-rays ordered by my physician because the physician hadn't filled out the paperwork properly. Actually, I couldn't pay out of pocket or buy stock then. All of my extra cash was going into family-sized insurance premiums for my full-service health maintenance grincs (HMG).
I tried seeing an HMG-approved therapist, but it didn't work out. We used to meet in an office space that the grincs rented in a rundown shopping center. The therapist would get there and leave when I did. Between appointments I had to leave a voice mail message at the grincs toll-free number and wait for the therapist to call back. I thought of it as brown-bag therapy, but it's been discontinued. In the midst of a stress attack, I complained in writing about medical services offered by the same HMG. Shortly afterwards, I showed up for a therapy appointment and a note on the door said it had been cancelled. I've left voice mail messages for my therapist since, but none of them have been returned. But what should I have expected?