Affaire du coeur, Part 3

 

I was working at the Remote Encoding Center, a postal facility, which involves keying the mail to codes to get it going where it needs to go. We were in the crush of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve never worked in any postal facility as hard as I did during that time.

We worked the three to four weeks without a day off, 16 hours a day, 8 hours off. It felt like you had just fallen asleep and it was time to go do it again. It doesn’t sound like much, typing for 16 hours straight, but you try it everyday for three weeks, and see how you do. People were being led out of there in ambulances, passing out on their keyboards. My fingertips became painful. Tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome would get to the best of us. My tendonitis that I got during this time has never gone away. This was just a brutal period. Great money, great diet plan, but just grueling.

It was somewhere around the beginning of December I think, that I got a goodbye letter from Tory. Regence BlueShield, her insurance company, had locked her coverage out at $500 per year. Her heart meds alone ran a cool $2,000 a month. Without those meds, her heart would go into rejection. It was pretty much a death sentence. She had accepted it, the coverage for her heart meds ending at the end of January.

Now, see, I get rather upset when someone tries to kill a friend of mine. I lost one person to heart disease by an act of God, I sure as hell wasn’t going to lose someone else to a bureaucracy. Despite the stress of work, I started a one-man war against Regence from 1,500 miles away.

I emailed and faxed the Insurance Commissioner, the state General Attorney’s office, the media, the Governor’s Office. I called in chips from government contacts. I called, I wrote. If I had been in Seattle, I would’ve started kicking down doors.

Only one little problem. Most of these places shut down during the month of December, not to open again until after the 1st of January. I got no responses from anyone. Towards the end of December, despite finally getting some breathing space from work, we both began to panic. Tory could literally count her pills before they ran out. It’s mind-boggling that someone could count their days left in the world by the pills that they have left.

In the midst of this, with my focus just on Tory, my relationship ended with my girlfriend. It was cruel on my part, but that’s what happened. Things were changing too fast for me.

It was the beginning of January, and Tory and I were just starting to get nibbles from some of the people I had contacted. The most disturbing was one news network that implied that it would be a great story if it all ended in tragedy. The most heartening was from the Insurance Commissioners office, but even they admitted they could only work so fast. Time was running out for Tory, and there seemed like there was nothing I could do about it.

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