Every day, I feel the damning realization that I am getting old. Things fall apart. Currently, I am sitting at the confluence of several factors that are creating the perfect storm for health issues, and every one of them is aiming to wreck my personal savings.
When I signed on with my employer, I turned down the crappy health insurance plan they offered; it was a “fee for service” plan, meaning it was just a discount card. Even with all the money I’d be paying out, all they could offer is some percentage off most procedures. Once I read the terms, I felt I could find a better health insurance policy on my own, so I opted out. Big mistake. Two weeks ago, I applied for personal insurance; even with the crappy terms I selected, they still denied me due to “preexisting conditions”.
So, for the first time in 11 years, I have no insurance. Unless I appeal the ruling, opt for even shittier terms, or luck out and find another company who would insure me, I’m screwed until January 2014, which is when the Affordable Care Act will mandate that insurers cannot deny you or overcharge you for preexisting conditions. But that’s a long way away.
A week ago, I certainly could’ve used it. I spent the majority of a workday in the E.R. Went to work that morning, started my coffee and got into a few emails before I felt a tightness in my chest. Didn’t know what to think of it, so I started panicking. Eventually, my pulse was racing between 83 bpm and 133 bpm; thought I was having a heart attack. Packed up my things, told my coworkers I needed to go to the E.R. They walked me to the security desk, who then called 911 with a code blue, the on-campus ERT personnel were alerted and came over to assist, the fire department showed up, the EMS showed up. They got me settled down, and I decided it best to go to the E.R. for tests. Four hours later, the doctor gives me the good news that I didn’t have a heart attack; I had a case of acid reflux. All that theater, all that drama, all that life-and-death, over heartburn. The most expensive case of heartburn in my life.
Doc prescribed some daily antacid regimen and sent me home.
Fast-forward 5 days; I’m at the cafe, sitting on my legs. After some time, I get up to head home. Knee starts catching and popping. I hobble to the car. Knee’s sore for the next 2 days. Matter of fact, both knees have been giving me problems. Most of my joints, actually.
Current issue, though: Friday, my gut starts hurting. mid right side, just underneath my ribcage. Nothing there but the ascending large intestine and liver. I soldier through the low-level pain, and am still having issues with it, but I can’t afford to make another expensive mistake if it’s just gas or blockage or irritated bowels. Worse case, it’s liver problems; worst still is if it’s gall bladder problems (and that the pain is presenting in a different place). At any rate, I can’t afford to get checked out, and that seriously bothers me.
Part of me worries that the antacid regimen is to blame. I doubt it, but I skipped this morning’s dose, and today’s been a bit better. Had a long night of sleep this morning, and I think that helped the most. Hope to have a good night of sleep tonight. Eventually, it’ll work out (I hope that much).
I’m half afraid that most of my health problems are influenced by my lifestyle. “Diseases of affluence”, they’re called. Sedentary living and rich diet. And now that I can’t afford healthcare, the health issues are coming home to roost. How did our ancestors live through it? The only way they knew how: they soldiered through it, bellyached, and went on with their lives.