Thursday, December 05, 2019

medical emergencies

I had a bit of a medical emergency last month. I was at my studio when I started to get a stomach ache. Over the next 90 minutes my entire stomach area started hurting so badly that I had to sit down. It was all I could do to get in my car and drive home.

I rolled around in pain for the next 18 hours before I decided something must really be wrong with me and went to the doctor, who sent me to the OR for an immediate appendix extraction. My appendix was so infected and swollen that it was already leaking gross stuff into my body, which doctors strafed with so much penicillin over the next 5 days that probably nothing will grow in my body ever again.

I have a very awesome kid in my life who came to visit me in the hospital, and said with all the dryness that comes naturally to a 14-year-old, "If you died, I would have been really mad at you, and I would have told everyone at your funeral that you died of stubbornness."

I laughed, because she is hilarious, but it's not exactly stubbornness that almost killed me. I'm not the only one in America who avoids doctors. Getting caught in the American medical system usually means one thing: you're about to spend more money than you have and bankruptcy may be the end result. And of course your own life is worth any amount of money-- of course-- but also, I do everything I can to just take care of myself.

I didn't have medical insurance my entire adult life until Obama came along, so it's a habit to avoid all doctors except for my gynecologist. When someone opened a door on me when I was riding my bike, they tried to cart me off in an ambulance, and I refused because I know how much that costs. I rode my stupid bike home like an idiot and was unable to walk for 3 days afterward. But hey, I was okay.

Even insurance doesn't keep you from having to spend horrifying amounts of money on your medical care. While I was in my hospital bed a very nice lady came into my room holding a laptop and informed me that my night as an inpatient would be a $2000 co-pay, and would I like to take care of that now? No, I would not. And I did not. Personally, I think it should be against the law to be asked to whip out a card while you are in a hospital gown.

We all know this is inhumane and unsustainable. Every time I hear a fucked-up story about a person's experience in the 9th Circle of Financial Medical Hell I feel a shiver in my soul, because I know there is really nothing that can protect me from that story becoming mine. It's bad enough that one is sick or hurt, worse that you have to hold a fundraiser to help pay your bills. By the way, that's a link to one of my dearest friend's GoFundMe page to help with his hospital bills after an accident. If you have some spare cash, send him some of it. Because this is the world we live in right now.

I also want to say that I feel incredibly fortunate that this appendix mishap is more of a financial inconvenience than a catastrophe. I'm lucky. But I may not always be lucky, and this is something that weighs on me every time I think I should maybe go to the doctor, and then don't.

Please feel free to share your medical hell story in the comments.