I missed the memo about insurance.


In recent days, news about the Affordable Care Act has been dominating the headlines.  All the hubbub about Obamacare got me thinking about insurance, and it called to mind a time when I really, really needed an insurance policy of sorts.  Brace yourselves, folks.  This is going to get a little gross.

One afternoon at work, I started to feel a little queasy.  As the day wore on, I shivered miserably in between trips to the bathroom as I cursed my husband, who happened to have my car that day. With him across town, I toughed it out through the rest of the day, but by the time my husband picked me up, my digestive system was in full revolt.  I had been trying really, really hard not to barf, but as I rode down the 17 floors from my office to the lobby, I confronted the mortifying reality that I was going to throw up, like, immediately.  As soon as the elevator doors opened, I stepped into the plushly carpeted lobby and lost my lunch.  Those cute Mary Janes with the rosette on the buckle that I got in France?  History.  

Once home, the situation deteriorated quickly.  I will not mince words, people…I was basically peeing out of my butt.  And then vomiting.  Or doing both at the same time.  It was…undignfied.  I’ve  had stomach flu a time or two before, but what made this particular episode particularly gnarly was that the early warning system that usually permits a potty-trained person to make it to the bathroom in time to take care of business had been completely short-circuited.  I soon realized that in addition to losing my lunch and my dignity, I was starting to have a real laundry problem on my hands.  And then it occurred to me that in my state, I would not be able to sleep, like, at all.  I needed every second of vigilance I could muster and even that wasn’t really cutting it.   This was not just a “gambled and lost” situation…I was not even making it to the table to place a bet. 

Seriously…this was me. But I mercifully had the presence of mind to take a seat and position a bucket in front of me. It’s the small things, really.

But I was exhausted and desperate.  Then it occurred to me…if I was going to get any rest, I needed… a diaper.  Yep, a diaper.  To this point, my husband had wisely been giving me a wide berth, but since I couldn’t go to the store in my condition, I beseeched him to go and get me some Depends.  Because he was a little embarrassed at the prospect of buying adult diapers, he questioned whether I really needed them.  I said, “Don’t judge me!  In sickness and in health, dude!” 

When my husband dutifully returned with the bulky purchase, I gratefully donned a diaper and went to bed.   In those stretchy, papery, plastic underwear, I slept like a baby, at least until I had to barf again. 

When it comes to insurance, it’s all about risks and odds…I had calculated that the odds of me falling asleep and suffering the rudest of awakenings were pretty good, and that was not a risk I was willing to take.  I needed insurance…in the form of a diaper.  Memo received. 

As noted, when I asked my husband to get me some diapers, he initially balked a bit.  In his estimation, a diaper represented over-insurance.  But he was making his calculation as a person who was not in the throes of epic diarrhea.  A couple of days later, however, he came down with the same flu.  I went to work and came home to find him lying miserably on the couch.  When I asked him how he was feeling, without a word, he pulled down the waistband of his sweats and revealed that he had reassessed the risk and taken out a little insurance policy of his own.  He got the memo, too.