As He Was Dying…


His heart is working at 19%.  It is enough to survive, as long as he doesn’t do anything strenuous. 

But he’s a laborer.  It’s always strenuous.  Even a 9-5 office job in some plush skyscraper would be strenuous for a man with only 19% heart functionality.  They give him some contraption to wear.  If his heartbeats drop, it will shock him.  A stun gun strapped to his chest to keep him from dying.  

He doesn’t need a stun gun, he needs heart surgery.  How can they turn him away?  A lifesaving operation, aren’t they required by law to perform them regardless of the ability to pay?  

And his life?  What of his life?  He can’t work.  The years he spent honing his craft are worth nothing now.  He is filled with shame and humiliation as he enters the disability office.  He’s always been proud of his strong back, the callouses he earned on his hands, and his work ethic.  They’ve been reduced to a number in an office where he’ll be begging for assistance. 

 The mountains of paperwork and red tape alone are enough to cause heart failure.  They are going to make it an “urgent request” so it should only be six months, maybe more, maybe less, before the disability is approved.  How is he supposed to survive while he waits on the government to decide if he deserves the money he’s been paying in for years in taxes?  No, he isn’t a vet, he tells them, but he’s been working for nearly forty years.  Doesn’t that count for anything?

 More shame as he goes from the disability office to the welfare office.  He needs food.  He applies for food stamps.  The embarrassment makes the pen shake in his hand as he signs his name where the woman behind the desk points.  Dealing with her is about as pleasant as carrying an open barrel of acid while being chased by crocodiles.  

He lies in bed at night and worries.  What will tomorrow bring?  Will there be food on the table?  Will there be heat?  Electricity?  Will he even wake up?  What happens if he doesn’t?  Will his wife and family be able to afford the expenses of his funeral?  The bills that he will leave?  The disability checks that will never come if he dies?

 He isn’t supposed to get stressed.  Stress weakens his heart even more.    It’s an impossible situation.  He can’t become stressed, yet he has every reason to be stressed.  The waiting is killing him. Literally.  He worries over every penny that comes in or goes out of the household budget. 

He’s slowly dying.  The brave face he shows his family is a lie.  He soothes them with his words while he worries.

This is inspired by a true story.  The family has been forced to set up a “FundMe” account to try to pay the monthly bills.

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