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A Public Service Ernouncemint

Lemme tell you a story, one that takes a little background.

This (fig. a) is a mandoline. It’s a kitchen device that lets you slice things quickly, uniformly and with fancy effects like julienne and crinkle-cuts via sliding motions and razor sharp, v-shaped steel blades. See that sombrero-looking deal in the picture? That’s a safety guard (fig. b), which we’ll be coming back to in a moment.

This (fig. c) is a guy who regularly admonishes his wife for leaving kitchen knives on the counter (say after washing) for even two damn seconds instead of returning them to their proper storage location immediately to avoid the danger of uncontrolled sharps. He turns pot handles in so they don’t stick out over the edge of the stove, he cleans and sanitizes aggressively, and while he is atheist, he is downright religious — evangelical, even — about kitchen safety.

So when fig. c gets a brand-new toy over the weekend and is still figuring out all the things he can do with it (more specifically, trying to decide exactly how thick he wants to cut a bell pepper for use in fajitas) and decides he can make just one or two test cuts using fig. a before utilizing fig. b for the rest of the job, you can tell where this is going.

I’ll spare you the details¹, just suffice it to say that it was entirely operator error, took about three hours from injury to back home (much of that spent watching Project Runway on the bedside TV while waiting for the PA to clean the wound³; Kini got robbed last week and Korina seriously needs to stop being her own biggest fan), and it’s a hassle to type right now. I did manage to avoid the worst possible outcome, which would have been having to call 911 and have my own squad come and transport me; there is nothing worse than getting transported by your own crew because you’ll never hear the end of it.

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

I’m telling it because I was reflecting on the cost of healthcare as I was fishing out my insurance card and noting that my current plan wants a US$100 copay for an emergency visit and the old insurance wanted US$25, and shut up you baby you can afford it and you have all those self-employed friends that don’t have a deal anywhere near that good. We’ve seen accounts of people getting into ACA plans over the past year, and those that missed out should start researching in advance of the new open enrollment, because we also saw lots of unhelpful insurance companies trying to steer people into plans more expensive/less useful than what the ACA mandates.

And all those thoughts reminded me of something that happened last year when I got an envelope in the mail out of nowhere, and it set off my bullshit detectors because it claimed that the City of New York was sending me two cards that could be used to obtain discounts on prescription drugs.

Weirdly enough, it turned out that it was exactly what it claimed. New York City has worked out deals with large drugstores and small to offer discounts on prescription meds, and they will send a card that gets those discounts to anybody that wants one, for free, regardless of whether or not you have any connection to New York City. You can even send them to other people, which is probably how I got mine.

Great, you’re saying, that’ll do me a whole lot of good if I get sick in New York. Actually it’ll work far and wide. For example, this is the first of five pages of results for accepting pharmacies within five miles of the first address I thought to test with: that of Periscope Studio in Portland, Oregon. Hi, guys, need cheaper drugs? You’re good.

Maybe you have no need of this; maybe you’ve got a health plan — like I do — with decent prescription benefits. Or maybe you’re dealing with a pretty bare-bones plan and find out that nasty fever you got hit with last winter required some pricey drugs to let you not die. They may still be pricey with the card, but they could be considerably less pricey at no cost to you and that ain’t nothing.

So that’s the story. If my moment of terminal dumbassery means that just one of you finds it easier to obtain the care that you need in future, then it was worth it. Kinda. That cleaning really hurt, you guys.

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¹ The triage nurse at the ER turned pale when I tried to describe the injury and said I can’t handle fingers; come in with your arm hanging off or a screwdriver in your eye and I’m fine, but I can’t handle fingers. Don’t want to see it, let’s get you in there. How’s your pain? 10?² Okay she’ll print out your chart and then you’re going in good luck before shooing me away as quickly as possible.

In all my years of delivering people to the ER, I had never learned this simple rule to getting in to see a doctor quickly: have a condition that squicks out the triage nurse.

² It was more like a throbby 3 or 4.

³ Which was a legit 8.5 on the pain scale and a big part of why I went to the ER in the first place; no way I could have done that myself. Also, I didn’t have medical-grade superglue to get everything closed back up.

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