I coulda’ been a contender. A Covid vaccine contender.
Before Obamacare, my health insurer tried to cancel me for two important reasons:
First, I took a preventative $5/month statin for borderline cholesterol to avoid $100,000 heart surgery.
Worst, I checked “yes” on the form where it asked if I’ve ever smoked.
How stupidly literal of me. I’ve never smoked cigarettes, only the occasional cigar. But my innocent over-honesty hammered the final nail in my coffin.
Fortunately, my doctor wrote a letter to my insurer and resolved the matters. And — lesson learned — I pledged never to be honest again.
The Covid vaccine prioritization has made me feel even stupider.
To explain my plight, Washington, DC, where I live, just tweaked our Covid vaccine priority list.
I was already back of the line with the other les misérables, since I have no essentiality whatsoever. (See: “Existential lesson of 2020: I’m not essential.”)
Even better, I turn 65 next year, so the shots are torturously just out of my reach, like Tantulus punished by Zeus to go thirsty and hungry forever in hell while standing in water with a fruit tree just beyond his grasp.
At this rate, because fate is impish that way, Trump will announce his 2024 comeback campaign before I get my vaccine to survive the pandemic he spread.
I’m even longer down the Covid vaccine queue because, knock wood, I’m relatively healthy.
Like many states and as the CDC recommends, Washington has prioritized residents with certain preexisting medical conditions — cancer, kidney disease, COPD and 17 others — ahead of almost essential workers and then the general population.
Makes sense. Except for two medical conditions the city added: Habitual smoking and obesity.
“All overweight D.C. residents will get priority for the coronavirus vaccine,” The Washington Post said. “Experts are skeptical.”
I applaud the intention. Smoking and obesity can lead to a range of morbidities that make the Covid deadlier. We’re trying to save the most lives possible.
Also, it would be typical White privilege for me to carp when the less privileged suffer health conditions and need shots ahead of me to live longer. Instead I’ll signal my virtue by heartily applauding.
Having said that, damn.
If unhealthy living could have saved my life from the Covid, why did I bother with healthy living?
Why did I exercise, or suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous guilt from myself and deeply troubled fitness addicts when I took time off?
Why did I attend those weekly meetings of Ben & Jerry’s Anonymous to stay off the Chunky Monkey?
Why, like a Michael Jordan, did I quit hotdog-eating and beer-chugging contests when I was still a champ at peak performance with gas in the tank?
Hold my beer, Tantalus: For the past 15 years I’ve been living across the street from a pair of Golden Arches. All this time I have strapped myself to the mast (i.e., the sofa) to resist the siren song of hot, crisp, salty delicious French fries.
All this healthy living for what?
To not get life-saving vaccines during the only deadly global pandemic in 100 years that is exceptionally likely to kill me?
Why for decades have I bothered with every latest healthy eating fad — Mediterranean, Atkins, South Beach, vegetarian, pescatarian, starvatarian, paleo, carnivore, entomophagy (eating like a bird; i.e., bugs) — for up to three days at a time?
I even tried veganism for ten minutes when a restaurant forgot to put the steak on my steak salad.
Most of all, why did I pay millions of dollars over my lifetime for unused gym memberships, health insurance, healthcare, Whole Foods, health foods, and luxury cigars I bought but never smoked anymore because they made me feel sick?
Yes, I’m blessed to be healthy (so far).
And I want everyone who needs the Covid shots more than I do to get them before I do.
Don’t worry about me. I’ll be ok. I’ll just sit home and die either from the Covid because I once went outside or from symptoms of solitary confinement.
I’m definitely not rushing the gate for Covid shots like pre-Covid shoppers rushed Walmart on Black Friday. I’m too lazy.
I’ll also avoid selling my soul for a couple of shots of Pfizer-BioNTech. You know, make a Faucian bargain.
In return, please accept, even indulge, my existential crisis and griping. Who knew I could have lived longer by shortening my life?
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.