mrsveteran (mrsveteran) wrote,

The Best Christmas Present Ever - Part I

Sometimes people ask me why I work for the company I work for. I have skills in networking, systems and database administration, systems programming, and a lot of other things that generally command higher salaries than I'm getting. I even get job offers from former clients periodically, all of them offering more money (and sometimes more benefits) than I have with my current job.

Oh, I've had my own personal reasons for some time, and I've also had my philosophical differences with some of the company's decisions over the years (some more serious than others). But recently, I think I've seen one of the best possible examples of why I stay. And I'd like to share that with you.

We've got a new guy working at the company. We'll call him "Jim," and he's one of the techs or "Customer Support Staff" as we now call them. Jim has been with the company about four months, and had just gotten past the probationary stage to where he qualified for medical insurance under the company plan.

I should point out a few things here. Jim is the kind of guy that pretty much everyone likes. He's always laughing and joking around, cheering people up who might need it -- he's everyone's friend, or everyone's big brother. I've seen him deal with some of the most difficult customers while maintaining his temper. He's also somewhat overqualified for his job, but doesn't do his job as though it's beneath him. He fit in to the company so well, it's hard to remember sometimes that he IS a new guy. I can hardly remember the company without him -- and I've been there over 10 years. In short, he's just a really good-hearted, hard-working guy, and the company is lucky to have him in many ways.

So a couple of weeks after his medical coverage kicked in, he went out to all-you-can-eat sushi (one of the benefits of living in this town) and came home with chest pains. Well, he just figured maybe he'd swallowed a bit too big a bite of something. You know how it is with all-you-can-eat sushi ... or maybe you don't, because you don't live here. HA-ha!

Er ... I mean ... my condolences.

Anyway, these chest pains lasted a few days. Along with shortness of breath. Him being a guy, he didn't want to bother going to the doctor because he could still work. Besides, he's a smoker and figured he was just out of shape. Shortness of breath, schmortness of breath! However, all his co-workers nagged him until he went to an Urgent Care.

The Urgent Care folks figured he probably just had bronchitis, and were about to send him home with antibiotics, but then they said, "Hey, you know, let's just do a quick chest x-ray to make sure it's not pneumonia, okay?"

Jim impatiently assented, and waited for the results.

The doctor returned. "Sir, I'm afraid you're not going home with antibiotics."

"What?" Jim said. "Why the hell not?"

"Because you're going to the hospital." They showed him the x-ray which displayed a mass the size of a softball in his upper left lung.

And to the hospital he went.

It took three days to get the results of a biopsy of the tumor. In that time, he sat in the hospital with nothing to do but surf the web, IM, and talk to people on his cell.

When the biopsy results came back, it was bad. Small-cell lung cancer. This type of lung cancer is common in smokers, and can be extremely aggressive. If it spreads from the lung, life expectancy is ... not at all good. Jim took this with his usual good cheer, however, laughing and joking about it. One day when I went to visit him at the hospital, he took me on a tour of the giftshop areas and bought me a Frappucino in the hospital's built-in Starbucks, grinning and joking all the while.

Another several days for the results of a test to tell whether or not the cancer had metastasized: it hadn't. The good news was, they thought they could completely cure it. The bad news, as it usually is, was that it would take several months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment to do that.

But hey, at least his insurance had kicked in before this whole thing went down, right? So everything was covered.

Or so we thought...

(to be
Tags: cancer, health care system, stories, the best christmas present ever

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