[Before I proceed, though... I just want to say that I don't want ANY pity. No pity... No feeling sorry for me... No hurting for my circumstances. No advice on what I could have done better (I will rip you a new one, if you do, just be forewarned). Life is what it is, and we are all dealt... what we are dealt, sometimes. Whatever that is. There are people, right now, going through a LOT more difficult circumstances. They deserve our support... so don't you worry about me. Also, this post might have a lot of swearing.]
I just need to process, and I need to vent. So to heck with it.
... Where do I start, I don't know. It's such a blur, now.
Last Sunday, running my hands through my hair, while wanting to put it up in a clasp, I found a large, swollen lump or area on the upper right side above the nape of my neck. It wasn't entirely dissimilar to the one on my left side, but distinctly swollen feeling, and sore if one put gentle pressure on it... and irradiating discomfort.
Of course, being The Angry Type 2 Diabetic that I am, I freaked out... said a few choice phrases rhyming with "What the fructose??" and sort of felt the clammy feel of panic rising up my spine. (You never want to feel that kind of panic when you have no insurance.)
I decided, though... that I was going to remain calm. (HA!) Just monitor it for the week, and wait until Thursday (today), for the Free Clinic, to get it checked out. As things sometimes go, I started feeling... unwell. "Woozy," feverish... just uncomfortable from the growing pressure in that area of my head... The "soreness" was starting to radiate down to my right shoulder, down my neck... And today, well, it was just difficult to focus, at work, and I noticed I couldn't really walk a good distance without feeling... just weird. Light-headed. Nauseated. "It's okay, though," I thought... "Today is the Free Clinic, and they'll have a look at it."
Now, the Free Clinic in my town is basically a rat pack of some medical professionals of various ilks who volunteer to provide some basic/minimal health care to uninsured people, no questions asked, and which only generally meets on Thursday evenings, from 6-8 pm. You have to arrive at 4 pm, though, and make quite the long line. Waiting for care often averages between 4-6 hours... and it's first come first served, of course. They can only see about 15 people.
The problem is... they used to have a somewhat permanent building, which has since been torn down by their tenant -- the next door church, while they make some new additions and changes to their facilities. So, the Free Clinic now has to share space with the next door church, and can only meet whenever the heck the church is not having some event. Which basically means... whenever a magic 8-ball decides.
I walk out there... just praying, praying under my breath that they are meeting. Lo and behold, as Murphy's Law loves me so much... They are not meeting. I think it's because of some stupid Pancake Day crap. I don't know. (Insert your personal sensibilities approved curses here.)
Then you have to make the tough decisions. Is this something that you think will go away; get better on its own? Am I overreacting? Is this... something that... could potentially get worse very quickly, and kill someone? Is this something that can be stopped, but it just needs immediate attention? I don't know... Do I go to the ER (because the local medical clinic is closed... and, even if it was open, they won't see me because I have no insurance and a hefty past medical bill that I can't prioritize to pay right now (don't judge me... you don't know me... and they won't let me pay anything less than an outrageous amount, every month...), while so underemployed and on food stamps...)? Or do I chance it?
Reluctantly, I decide... I'm going to go to the ER. I don't want to be the freak on tomorrow's front cover story that died within days, from something simple, or who knows what. The worst they can do is turn me away. And I was wrong. The worst they can do is shame me, while turning me away.
The doctor didn't even really look, or touch the area much. He basically pushed my hair around, said it looked exactly like the left side of my head, that he didn't see any physical injuries, and then asked have I ever cared to examine the left side of my head...
(Yes, doctor, the rest of us who aren't doctors are certainly idiots... We go entire lifetimes NOT touching our own bodies.)
....and then proceeded to tell me it was probably just me being worried about it, or at the very most a resented lymph node. He dismissed my other symptoms with the wave of a hand, gave me a smirk and a suppressed laugh, and said that I need to just let it stay like that, and come back in a week if it got much worse (with big disbelief all over his face).
I tried, very unsuccessfully to get his attention. He just basically acted like I was bullshitting him, and walked off.
Nurse Patronizer walks in. Nurse Patronizer notices I'm quite angry. I don't recall whatever tipped it off... (pffft!) But... Nurse Patronizer says to me "I don't know what you two discussed," and boy do I let the flood gates go... and I start crying, right there. She begs me to give her 5 minutes and goes off, basically to talk to Full of Himself Doctor, who says "Oh, she needs to just watch the area for 2 or 3 days (yeah, rather than a week, like he had said before... hmmm)..."
Nurse Patronizer repeated over and over again how it wasn't that I had no insurance, while at the same time pushing a flyer on me to go to the Free Clinic tonight.... After I had spent a good chunk of time explaining to them that the Free Clinic was closed. They wouldn't believe me, and kept asking me *why* it was closed. Now how in the &#$@ should *I* know?! All they had was a sign posted about "We will have No Free Clinic Tonight, 03/01/2012." I'm not their schedule keepers!
So, really... hmmm... If you are not punishing me for not having insurance, then perhaps you were punishing me for your perceived notion that I'm using the ER as a PCP provider's office, and not waiting until whenever the heck THEY would have given me an appointment (should I had been able to get one, which I know from experience, that I would have not, because of my outstanding bill. I know how those jerks work, too.)
So, off they sent me... With apparently, a few "lessons" for the road:
- You've lived with your body for 35 years... and are quite educated, Liz, but you don't know your own head;
- You have no insurance, and are underemployed, so you must be subhuman, or some mentally unstable person making stuff up... abusing our services;
- You are nothing more than money;
- I hope you don't die, but good luck. Suck it up, butter cup.
And THAT is the reality uninsured people have to put with... in America.
I am, at home, and still feel... Odd... Feverish. Sick.
Off and on, it goes. I feel even more special I will get a nice, hefty bill in the mail, for absolutely nothing. For the theater of a man's arrogance, and a woman's patronizing. I've had more pleasant experiences there, before, but not today.