I received a card in the mail the other day. It was from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

For the first time since I was 22, I have comprehensive health coverage.

And suddenly I can breathe.

It’s like that muscle you didn’t know you’d been clenching until the moment you’re receiving a massage. A chronic fearful itch, just below consciousness. Don’t get sick. Don’t get hurt. For the love of God, don’t get pregnant. Don’t feel worse. Don’t get tired. Don’t give in. 

I don’t have a primary care physician. I haven’t seen a physician in ages. Except for a $30 trip to the Nurse Practitioner for antibiotics and steroids (bronchitis and an inflamed lung), and a scary but uneventful colposcopy and biopsy at Planned Parenthood, I haven’t needed any kind of medicine in my life. I’ve been very lucky. But also very afraid.

Yes, I eat well. I exercise. I try to get enough sleep. All the alternative health folks tell me this is the best health plan the earth can provide. But all the broccoli in the world wouldn’t help me avoid bankruptcy if I were end up in a coma after a drunk driver smashes into me on the side of the road.

It happened at a party I attended. It wasn’t me who was hit, but it could have been.

I didn’t know how stressful it really was until it was over. Now I get the amazing chance to think about my health instead of worry about it.

The card I got in the mail wasn’t a birthday card or a thank you card. I’ll be paying thousands of dollars a year for it. But my chest is full of air and I can let it all flow out and then in again. It turns out that money can buy a slice of happiness and peace. Who knew?