There’s one tale I haven’t told lately, because it’s really quite mundane and no one would really care. Long story short, I’m sick and I’m coughing.
I haven’t told anyone who hasn’t seen me in person, because it’s just a cold. Take some Robitussin, some NyQuil, whatever, and see me in the morning, right? Exactly.
It all started with a sinus infection, but since it stayed in my sinuses, I was pleased. I could make friends with a box of tissues, drink plenty of tea, and life would soon go on as normal. And it did, because I got over the sinus infection without medicine, and I was back to normal.
A few days to a week after that, I started to cough. We’ll just call it a cough, I won’t go into details. I will say that I hoped it wasn’t strep throat, as two of the kids I’m staying with both had strep recently, but I lacked the sore throat.
When I recorded my YouTube video, for example, I had the cough and my voice was slightly hoarse. I somehow managed to clear a song in one recording without coughing, and since I did beat my top score in that take, I wasn’t going to push my luck. Singing would only irritate my system if I kept doing it.
A few days of the cough had passed, and it wasn’t just clearing up on its own. It was at this point I knew I needed a cough suppressant and expectorant, though the combination seems contradictory as one keeps you from coughing and the other gives you a reason to do so. One card down of the medicine, six days, and still no improvement.
It was at this point I started to forfeit the fight. But what do I do? I don’t have health insurance right now, so whatever I do is out of pocket.
I had a rough idea of how much I’d expect to pay if I went to the family doctor I’ve had for most of my life. I also knew I’d be sternly informed that I should have made an appointment first, regardless of the short wait times I would have anyway, and completely in spite of the fact that maybe I hit a breaking point and couldn’t stand to deal with my own compromised immunity any longer.
I also knew of a place where you pay on a sliding scale, which means it’s all based on income. As such, it’s in a part of the city where less-advantaged people live, so naturally I hoped no one broke into my car in broad daylight. I didn’t remember having any issues when I went one time before, but it was a few years ago and a lot has happened since then. After weighing my options, this became my choice even though I was a bit reluctant. But if I didn’t go, I couldn’t get better, so I had to suck it up and go.
I stood near the front door, staring across the street at my car. Should I ask someone else to drive me down there so I wasn’t risking my car? No, I should be fine.
I signed in and filled out the paperwork.
And then I waited.
After maybe an hour, I had to answer a few questions about my paperwork. Payment was taken for services that hadn’t yet been rendered.
And then I waited.
I passed the time with my phone, going between Facebook, Threes!, and some yen conversion puzzle game I came across recently. I started the day with a half-charged phone, and I was quickly running out of juice.
Finally I was called in to Triage. They took my weight, blood pressure, and all of that basic information about what my body is doing and what’s wrong with me at the moment. The nurse set me up for a chest X-ray, and I went into the Radiology room after Triage.
“Take off your necklace and bra, and you can leave your shirt on for a gown.” Oh great, they don’t even have paper gowns? Well, I guess it’s one less expense, plus my shirt would cover me better than any kind of hospital gown would ever do. So enclosed in a changing room the size of a phone booth, I set out to do as the radiologist asked.
“Is there any chance you might be pregnant?” she asked, after I emerged from the changing room and entered the exam room.
“Oh goodness, I hope not!”
“It’s a yes or no question.”
“Then no.” I actually had to think about the last time I had done anything that might result in the production of offspring, and then I was still fairly certain that I wasn’t pregnant.
She had me position myself in front of the machine in such a way that I was literally hugging the receiving side of it where the X-ray slide is inserted. All I could think of was Hyde’s album Roentgen, solely for the reason that it was named after the guy responsible for developing X-ray imagery, as well as another term that’s used to refer to X-ray images. I may have a one-track mind.
After my X-rays were done… I waited in the waiting room.
Finally, I was called to a room, where I waited.
Eventually a doctor came in. He checked my breathing with a stethoscope, asked if I was allergic to any medications, and then he started to leave to get me a prescription. I asked about the chest X-rays, what they showed if anything, and he acted like he didn’t realize that they had taken X-rays at all.
Meanwhile, I waited in the exam room.
It was already around 3 in the afternoon when the nurse who was with the doctor came back with my first dose of an antibiotic. She filled a cup with water for me and had me take the first pill. She also had another pill for me to take home and consume the next day.
And then I waited, because she left.
She returned with my discharge papers, which I didn’t really read but I did sign. She also handed me a prescription for the rest of the antibiotic I need to take. After that, I was free to go.
I was starving by this point, which was my own fault for skipping any kind of meal to start my day. There was a Burger King across the street from the health clinic, but after seeing what my weight is, I reminded myself how fast food isn’t a good idea right now.
I did, however, race to Walmart because I figured I could get my new medicine rather inexpensively. I was wrong, I spent $10 per pill. Actually, with the two that were given to me, I spent $6 per pill. That would be an expensive placebo, so I hope I have something that will work.
And I don’t even know my diagnosis. After everything, I wasn’t told if I have a chest infection or if I might have something worse.
But that’s the American Healthcare system for you. If you’re trying to get help on a budget, you have to sacrifice quality. It’s another reason why so many people in my generation try to avoid seeing the doctor, either because they can’t afford it or they know they’re going to have an experience that leaves much to be desired. Don’t get me started on the worst case scenarios; I worked in a bankruptcy law office long enough to see most of the cases involved some combination of student loan debt, credit card debt, or medical debt.
If I do get well again, then I can’t complain too much about my experience. So, let’s hope I get well again!