Monday, August 1, 2011

What it means for one person to not have health insurance.

I can't walk without near-constant pain.  I have self-diagnosed (well, with the help of a medically-inclined friend) plantar fascitis, and have sprained both ankles several times, not quite recovering from the last time about 3 months ago.  It's not immobilizing, but between feeling like there are deep bruises on the bottoms of my heels, ankle-joint pain and looseness, it's not so fun to be active anymore, which is creating a vicious cycle of pain and inactivity.

When I fell and sprained both ankles 3 months ago, I also landed pretty hard on my wrists.  My wrists that already had untreated RSI.  My wrists that have actually gotten progressively worse since then, which means that it's painful to move them in certain ways, and that while my arm muscles are relatively strong, I can't pick heavy things up because my wrists hurt and feel so weak.  Picking up my laptop with one hand is no longer an option.

My knees have been making a strange crackling sound for years now.  They used to hurt more, but now they only twinge a bit when I walk down stairs or hills.  They, like my ankles and wrists, feel wobbly and uncertain.

I haven't had dental insurance in years, which means I haven't been in for a cleaning in about 5 years.  Luckily, I had a privileged upbringing that included regular dental care, so my teeth could be much worse.  Still, I have retainers on the backs of my teeth that should have been removed 15 years ago, and I can tell I have a few cavities.

I worry that I will break or lose my glasses, since I don't have any sort of vision insurance and couldn't afford to buy new ones.

I might have a pre-cancerous spot on my nose, but I can't go to a dermatologist to find out.

So that's just me, and the issues I'm dealing with.  I had a privileged upbringing which certainly helped provide a more solid foundation for my health, but I'm also currently the poorest I've ever been and literally can't afford the low-income community clinic's co-pay of $10 right now.

The point of all this isn't to get pity, or to get resources (I have a few that I'm going to take advantage of), but just to say:  this is what it's like for one person, in relatively good health, with a decent amount of privilege.  This is a severely broken system and it's infinitely frustrating and infuriating. Public health systems are exhausting and extremely time-consuming to deal with, and frequently deliver sub-par quality of care (due to underfunding), if you can even qualify.

In closing:  grrrr.  arrrggghh.

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