Home alone

I haven’t mentioned this, but for the past 5 weeks, M has been in Japan. Her mother was diagnosed with Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, a kind of lung cancer located in the small vessels of the lungs that function in the oxygenation of our blood (I think). Apparently it is most prevalent in nonsmokers, elderly women and Asians. This makes M’s mother three for three, not the kind of batting average you want when dealing with the big C.

Fortunately, they found the disease early and the doctors determined it was operable, even though she’s over 80. M went to Japan to help her mother through the operation and for post-op recovery. By all accounts, the operation was successful, and we are, for the time being, relieved. The main issue now is the cost of the operation. Not that we are averse to helping M’s mother out, but we did learn recently that the cost is based on a new system of health insurance in Japan.

後期高齢者医療制度 Kouki koureisha iryou seido

The new system specifically for the elderly can be literally translated as “Medical system for latter term elderly.” This is a health insurance program that is independent from the regular universal health care available in Japan. It is targeted specifically at those who are 75 years of age or older. It is, in other words, a system for those who have lived longer than the regular system can afford to maintain them. Enrollment and premiums are mandatory for all residents and there is now a 10% co-payment for any and all health care treatment that used to be virtually free for those over 65. As you might imagine, there is quite an uproar in Japan among its silver citizens. According to a friend who visited recently, cries of “Do you want to have us die?” fill the airwaves.

There are lots of issues that people point to–long average life span, low birth rate, immigration or lack thereof. It is so complicated, I could never imagine wanting to be a Japanese politician. How do you deal with immigration in a country that believes and prides itself on its racial homogeneity? Do you make people get married and make more babies by what? By threatening to take away their free and consumer oriented lifestyle? Even targeting the elderly is political suicide as the elderly are the most likely to vote on election day. What a mess.

The good news is that the Japanese health care system is not the monster it is in the US. Medical and pharmiceutical costs are reasonable, and helping M’s mother foot the bill, while unexpected, is not a major burden. Thank God for small favors.

But more than anything else, I miss my wife. She’s been gone since the third week of May, and I miss her. She is coming home tomorrow, but now I have to do five weeks worth of house cleaning and laundry. Yikes! I’ll be happy to see her tomorrow when I pick her up at the airport, but I’ll probably be too exhausted to even give her a hug.


Thanks to Booyahman for recommending my last post, The death of seven dirty words. It was picked up by a few others who also recommended it, resulting in more visitors than I have had in a long while. Much appreciation.


Sometimes, these horoscopes can be so uncanny. No, no, no, I don’t read them for advice, just for fun. No, really…

Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008

You should be in a fairly hard-working frame of mind right now, and you’ll probably be perfectly willing to deal with any responsibilities you might have at this time. You should be willing to be as supportive as possible right now. And if your family ends up requiring a bit of your attention today, you should be happy to do whatever you can for them.

A lot will probably be expected of you today, and you might be called upon to be of service to a variety of different people before the day is through. You’re likely to be getting along well with your family and will probably feel like spending a lot of time around the house right now. And there may be quite a few things that will need to be dealt with on the home front today.

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