Boy, God sure works in mysterious ways.
Or maybe I’m just really dense.
Whatever the reason, I all too often fail to grasp just how blessed I am.
Either I get way too hung up on whatever little problem crosses my path at a particular moment or, if things are going reasonably well, take life for granted.
At which point the Almighty usually has to give me a swift kick in the butt to bring me back into focus.
Take these magic pills I pop. They weaken the little monsters in my bone marrow just enough to hold them at bay without, you know, killing me. Kind of extreme, I agree, but as long as I pop them the potentially terminal disease I caught remains merely incurable.
So, blessing, right?
The magic pills have some drawbacks, however. First off, they don’t make you invisible, which would come in handy if I was ever called upon to sabotage Iran’s nuclear ambitions or steal jewels from a giant red dragon. Second, they have a few side effects, many of which, at least according to the warning label, end with the phrase “possibly ending in death.” Third, they’re really expensive. Like monthly payment on a Lamborghini expensive.
For the past couple of years, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the right combination of health insurance, pharmaceutical assistance programs and private grants to cover the cost.
Especially the right insurance, since some plans don’t even include magic pills. Still, by the time you add in my wife’s health premium (she wants insurance too, for some reason), health care eats up at least 30 percent of our take-home pay.
Fortunately, I’ve been both uniquely sick enough and financially inept enough to qualify for a grant program to cover the out-of-pocket costs on the magic pills not covered by insurance. Otherwise our health care costs would jump to 45 percent of our take-home pay. Or higher, if either of us ever went to the doctor for any other reason.
So, blessing, right?
We’ve been living in that 30 percent sweet spot the past couple years, and while life hasn’t been a breeze, it hasn’t been a disaster, either. We make the mortgage, cover our bills, and have little to complain about. So it was kind of a shock Monday when I got a letter from my grant provider notifying me that they had run out of funds and I was now on my own when it came to paying for the magic pills.
“Well, maybe I can find a part-time job somewhere,” I told my wife when she came home for lunch, trying not to freak her out. I have three part-time jobs at the moment, so what’s one more?
I don’t think I was too convincing.
To further complicate matters, I had run out of magic pills the night before, meaning I’d have to cough up a Lamborghini payment when I went to pick up my prescription later that day.
The head pharmacist must have sensed something was wrong when I got to the magic pill dispensary. Probably thought I has suffering from one of those “possibly ending in death” side effects.
“Hey man, how’s it going?” he said.
“Not so great,” I said, then showed him the letter.
“Don’t worry about it, we’ll just get you a grant from somewhere else,” he said.
Now I’ve been all over the Internet for the last two years, spoken to drug company reps and discussed the challenge of finding magic pill funding with at least four different medical societies. Somewhere else simply doesn’t exist, and I told him so.
“Sure it does,” he said. “All I need is your Social Security number and your income.”
He went over to his computer and started punching in numbers. Three minutes later, he handed me a sheet of paper confirming my new 12-month grant through some agency I’d never even heard of.
Here’s the kicker: After I shook his hand and offered to buy him a beer, he casually noted that it was a good thing we’d talked because he’d taken a new job and this was his last day at the pharmacy.
So, if I hadn’t run out of pills the night before, I wouldn’t have gone to the pharmacy that day. And if I hadn’t gone to the pharmacy that day, I would have missed him.
And if I hadn’t received the letter that day, I wouldn’t have told him about losing my grant. And if I hadn’t told him about losing my grant, I wouldn’t have gotten the new one. And then I’d be out a Lamborghini payment right now.
It’s really strange how things in life sometimes have to go wrong before God can make them right.
• Bill Wimbiscus, former reporter and editor for The Herald-News, has lived in Joliet for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.