The lies they sell us are expensive, and so is health, and the chance to seek education, and to sleep inside and drink water that is clean. To have children, or decide not to have a child, or to survive childhood. To eat food with all your teeth, or 3 times a day, or without pesticides, or at all. Expensive to be anything but what they say, even if you do all they say. Even if you smile, with or without the teeth you can or can’t afford.
They sell us things that don’t belong to anyone, like land, and things that don’t belong to them, like our bodies. Sell us solutions for things that aren’t problems, and price the solutions we do need out of reach. They sell death, and call it fitness, and self-improvement, and patriotism. Call it the price of doing business. Of upward mobility and economic stability, just don’t look down. At the backs they invite you to stand on, the rights trampled into stairs.
I pour my savings into my mouth and they keep taking teeth out. Insurance deems them luxury bones, decided how much is worth spending on them, never mind the cost to my health. Never mind what I must forgo to make up the difference, and how I and so many others must just accustom themselves to the cheap pull and the empty space. Learning to chew on just one side, to swap tips on saltwater and clove oil. To tongue the divots like a worry stone.
The teeth they offer as replacement cost the same as a used car. The same as a years’ worth of rent. Well, not anymore. Let’s say half a years’ worth of rent. In an old house with quirks. With 3 housemates and a heater that never goes above 60 degrees. Counting our change for bus fare. Counting ourselves lucky. To have a job to bus to. To have a home to bus back to. Lucky to have food to chew on one side of our mouth.
The sad truth is that is lucky, if by luck you mean design, and if by design you mean instilling fear of having less as a method of control. Disguising obedience as success. If by luck you mean to imply all those starving and homeless and ill and alone are unlucky. Which is only true if you understand that bad luck is created by capitalism. By corporate profits and government corruption and the mythology of equal opportunity and bootstraps.
Every bone in my body is a necessity. With or without adding to my capacity for labor. With or without a profit margin to justify it. Every bone in my body belongs to me. Every layer of skin and muscle. Every padding of fat and rush of blood and beat of heart. The ache in my shoulders was sold to me by capitalism. The hitch in my breath when chemicals fill the air. The creak of my knees and the tic in my eyelid and the sorrow in my soul.
Insurance says BMI. Says poor risk for surgery. Says too old to invest in. Insurance says preexisting conditions. Insurance says deductible. Says copay and late fee and coverage denied. Says my body is already broken and not worth a second look. Insurance says machines not instinct, says authority not lived experience, says paperwork and wait list and hoop jump. Insurance is betting against yourself with horrible odds. Is a scam and a stopgap.
My body believes in water and walking slow. In weed salve and massage and Epsom baths. The doctor believes in opioids and an obesity epidemic. Tells me to step on the scale and sit down and shut up. The doctor believes in steroid injections and stomach stapling. Believes I’m a stubborn patient refusing treatment. I say listen. I say trauma informed and consent based. I say health at every size. I say bodily autonomy. I say you’re fired. The doctor can’t believe it.
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5 responses to “Luxury Bones”
Thank you for putting “pen” to- pain. Beautifully articulated and intellectually defended. We need more light shed, in these doomed and dark days…
Timely for me as I sit here with a mouthful of stitches healing. Years of poor dental work and poor diet and chronic infection. I’m one of the lucky ones, I pay half my salary to have insurance. It didn’t cover infection in my jaw, said it was dental. Dental insurance doesn’t pay surgery. I work to pay insurance to protect me from losing everything, but if I get sick and can’t work I can’t pay insurance and I lose everything.
Well, that is a hodgepodge of statements, and I am not sure I agree was all of them, but—. All those jokes you hear about “poor white trash” and their missing teeth stopped being funny to me when I learned how much serious dental work costs.
Every word is true, and could as easily be said by so many of us, but for the skill at writing. This is beautifully said, and sadly truthful. Thank you for speaking your truth.