Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don’t be sad when it’s time to say good night


As you may know, if anyone has been following along since I left California, I have encountered a fair share of bad luck, thus assembling a backlog of posts and photographs and energy. I may be back to almost normal now, after a week of prednisone. I did fork over the forty bucks for my pictures, thanks to the financial assistance of some kind familial members. I just couldn’t lose them, and it is nice to know that my family believes in me a bit. At $40 for 200 pictures, that’s twenty cents a piece. Would I have taken fewer pictures or more if I had known?

My steroids have been giving me lots of energy, hence my mass quantities of posts and photograph uploads in the last however many days. I also stayed up until four o’clock in the morning yesterday, finally compiling the first draft of the first five chapters of my novel, a goal I’ve had since January. It may not seem that important, but it was a huge thing for me. I’m considering making it a real goal to finish an entire first draft by the end of summer.

The clinic was an interesting experience, a brush with what works and what doesn’t work with health care in our country. I may have mentioned before how my sister’s public health class studied TennCare (Medicaid in Tennessee) as a case study of everything that’s wrong with our medical system. As someone living well below the poverty level, I applied earlier this year for TennCare and was turned down. The reason being? I’m not pregnant. So if I go down to the corner bar and get knocked up, I get health insurance, but if I make responsible birth-control choices, I don't? How does that make any kind of sense?

I spent about five hours over the course of two days in the waiting room, being shuffled from one nurse to the other. My fellow patients were mainly Chicano families and single, teenaged moms—there for pre- and post-natal visits and breastfeeding classes and check-ups and vitamins. I brought the book that I’ve been reading: David Dark’s The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, and I felt vague guilt about whipping it out. I was the only person reading anything in the waiting room, and it made me feel this odd cognitive disconnect. How is it right for me to have spent all of these financial resources on an expensive Christian education, only to avail myself of services destined for the less privileged? Is it wrong for me to feel guilt about using them? How legitimate are my goals, if they leave me floating at the lowest of income levels?

That being said, the County Department of Health did a great job. They couldn’t get me a visit with a doctor, but found a way for me to sneak in under their female wellness program, which gave the nurse practitioner an opportunity to prescribe generic drugs. And now I’m almost better! So the system worked, and worked well, and I am able to pay the fair price asked. It ended up being exactly what I needed when I needed it: access to an educated caregiver and to drugs, at a cost that made sense.

If I had a full-time job and benefits, access to the same level of care would have cost hundreds of dollars. How is that rational? All I needed was a simple consultation and prescription, not countless tests and follow-up visits and reams of staff paid $30 an hour with millions of dollars of malpractice insurance. There has to be a way to figure out how to pay for what we actually get, and not to keep paying into this nebulous system that perpetuates itself without creating anything of real value, not even true health.

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