Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I just don't get it (#84756826139321759331B)

So, (I start that way a lot, don't I?) I was having a bit of an I Still Love NYC commute, despite the million degrees of temperature. The air in the stations was so thick it was hugging you and the subway cars were like meat lockers and I could see through to the next car and spy on people and when I got out and climbed the stairs the railings felt like they'd just been pulled out of a bun warmer. For some reason I loved all this, it felt familiar and fun and comfortable and right.

Many people will shake their heads and wonder at this. How do I understand the city and navigate it and continue to love it? I don't know. But I do.

You know what I don't understand? Health care. Just don't get it. Have no real experience with it. About 4 years I got health insurance, like the real shit with dental and everything instead of the fake major medical crap they give you when they don't want to feel bad if you lose a limb or something. They don't want to have to look at you with your hook everyday and feel like they have to offer you a Chantico to alleviate the bad feelings.

4 years and I still don't feel comfortable with the regular doctor's visits for just $10 measly dollars. Way don't get the whole "Hmm, I should ask a trained professional about that rash instead of getting some Benadryl and wearing boxers for a week."

I'm trying, though, I swear I am.

I'm not exactly feeling supported in this quest, people.

I told you about the whole Ann Taylor incident.

Well, I didn't feel so great. My head hurt. I hit it on the front but it hurt in the back.

Pony Express: "You know, I don't mean to alarm you, but that means you jostled your brain. You know the technical term for that? CONCUSSION. You should, be careful, like really careful, I mean, more careful than you think you should be, you know?"

And then she proceeded to tell me about an article she read about a woman who continued to accidentally re-concuss herself for TWO YEARS.

I was strong. I took a page from my mom's book. She's a firm believer that if you don't believe you're coming down with something then you're not. So I quietly chanted "I am not concussed, I am not concussed, I am not concussed" as I drifted off to sleep...hoping I'd wake up.

Next day my head still hurt. Then the pain started creeping down my neck and along one shoulder.

Papermoon: "Oh, honey, you gave yourself some whiplash (snicker). You need to take some Advil and do it every 4 to 6 hours. Do it on a schedule. If you wait until it hurts it's just going to be harder to get the pain under control and it won't do you any good. I'm so (snicker) sorry. Be good to yourself and it'll be OK in a bit. NO! No, I'm not laughing, tiny frog in my throat. (giggle, smirk)"

Long about the next day I just started feeling crappy. Not really nauseated but sort of sick to my stomach and icky after eating (yeah, redundant, I know, get over it, I hit my head). And really tired and not a ton of pain in the head but sort of low level warning pain most of the time. And then my face started to hurt. Then I had a bloody nose. (Stop me when this is too much info..oh right, passed that point about 6 entries ago.)

Miss Rebecca, Chili, Miss Julie, Teddy's Girl and Madam Sorta Happy, among others, all said I should get it checked out.

I slept pretty much all day on Saturday. Couldn't get motivated. Finally got up and went out for the evening and was in bed by midnight again and slept for 10 hours.

So, on Monday I finally give in and call my primary care physician for an appointment. I have to call twice, they don't return my message but I do finally get a human.

Me: I'd like an appointment with the Doc.

Her: August 8th.

Me: OK, um, well, here's the thing. I hit my head and I wanted to just make sure that I didn't do any permanent, you know, damage.

Her: Did you go to the emergency room?

Me: No.

Her: August 8th.

Me: I haven't felt like myself, though, and the back of my head hurts and I'm just kind of scar...

Her: Did you pass out?

Me: No.

Her: August 8th.

Me: So, August 8th, huh?

Her: Yup. 2:45.

This is what confuses me. I hit my head. My head with which I make my living in order to pay for my medical insurance and therefore my doctor...and his receptionist. Also, I didn't go to the emergency room, because it wasn't really a huge emergency, it wasn't call 911 and keep some pressure on that, give me a little ice over here and I think we can re-attach it. Given that it was not that sort of emergency I thought I was doing the right thing by not spending extra money going to an emergency facility and waiting for a thousand hours and keeping them from re-attaching something important to someone else. I figured the thing to do is to go to my PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN who should primarily take care of me...and my noggin, which makes the money with which...whatever.

When Chili starts to feel a little fuzzy she calls her doc and has an appointment, antibiotics and an oil change before dark...in winter...in New England. Dark comes early there then, people, short days, very short.

More advice. People thought I should go see a doctor.

More confusion. PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN. Isn't the whole point of that so that one trained professional is at the wheel of the ship of my bodily health?

Apparently not.

So, I have an appointment for the crack of dawn tomorrow with a physician's assistant for whom I have high hopes.

Why? Why, why why? Is it because I live in a small space with a ton of people? Is my doctor the Homecoming Queen of Primary Care Physicians, just too popular to be able to see everyone in a timely manner? Is it a summer thing?

Am I right about the whole emergency room thing or should I just have packed a lunch and a copy of War and Peace (both volumes) and spent my Sunday in the local skeevy hospital waiting for someone to spend 5 minutes whacking my knee with a mallet and charging my health insurance company a couple of grand?

Am I naive? This whole one person in charge of my physical health thing? I mean, I KNOW that I am the person who is technically in charge of that but aren't I supposed to have one person for professional guidance?


I hate to be sick.

1 comment:

  1. You're not wrong. Our health care system is SO broken - so almost irretrievably broken - that it's well beyond my humble self to even begin to contemplate. That I'm able to get seen by my PA the same day I call is pretty unusual - I know this and I don't take a second of it for granted (as a matter of fact, I'm probably going to take Punkin-Chili to the doctor this afternoon to peek into her owie-ear).

    I am certain that the environment in which I live is at least partly responsible for the relative ease with which I obtain access to health care. There are certainly fewer people per square mile where I live than in NYC, there are a fair number of medical professionals practicing in the area, and though I don't have any hard data to prove this next statement, I'd be willing to bet a small amount of money that more people here are insured than not. A lot of people AREN'T insured - I know this because we were among them for a very scary four years - but I also know that this little corner of New England - the three counties immediately surrounding my home - are pretty well-off healthcare wise.

    If I had tried -and failed - to apparate through the Ann Taylor window, I probably wouldn't have gone to the ER, either. Honestly, my first thought would have been to getting my neck adjusted at my chiropractor's, but that's an entirely different conversation. I'd probably have done exactly what you did - waited it out for a bit to see what happened - but as soon as the pain started moving around and taking on a life of its own, I'd have sought medical attention. And I'd have been a bitch about it, too. No, I'm sorry, NOT August 8th - TODAY. Say it with me, now; TO-DAY. It doesn't matter who I see as long as that person went to and passed medical school and has a license to practice medicine in the state. When? Once more with feeling - TODAY.

    I wish I knew the answer to the healthcare problem. I can't even begin to understand how to fix even a little bit of it. I DO know, however, that healthcare isn't a privilege, it's a RIGHT. If you're breathing, you get healthcare, and we're not going to evolve as human beings until we figure that out.