Come to California- we have plenty of room.
I’ve seen the needle
And the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie’s
Like a settin’ sun.
NO postcard envy.
But, because of Obamacare the article wasn’t topical anymore. I get it…pretty happy about Obamacare AND I get a small kill fee. So it’s a win/win for me. Here’s the article I wrote.
Too Poor for the Flu
By Candice Reed
As my coughing attack subsided I looked at the calendar. It was official: I had been sick with the flu for the entire first month of 2013. As tears rolled down my face I walked into the kitchen.
“I think it’s time I go to the doctor,” I said to my husband Ralph.
He walked over and put his arms around me. “It’s OK, we’ll be fine.”
I changed into clean clothes and tried to run a brush through my hair, deciding at the last minute to put it into a ponytail. I brushed on some foundation and dotted on a little lipstick but chose to pass on the mascara. I wanted to look respectable, but the mascara would no doubt end up on my face after the next coughing fit.
Ralph and I drove silently to the Walk-In clinic. As we pulled up to the hospital I turned to him.
“I’ll go in by myself,” I said.
He squeezed my shoulder as I slipped on a facemask I had found in his toolbox. Somehow the mask gave me confidence as I walked toward the registration desk at the clinic.
“Hi,” I said to the woman behind the desk. “I’m here to hopefully to get some medicine for the flu.”
She thanked me for wearing the mask. “Sure, and what type of insurance do you have?” she asked.
I hesitated. It was the question I dreaded, the reason I hadn’t come sooner. I adjusted the mask. “I don’t have any,” I said softly. “But it’s been a month and I can’t work and I sleep for days when I’m not coughing…”
She clicked the keyboard and then handed me some forms.
“That’s fine, just fill these out and we’ll call your name.”
I found a seat in a corner away from everyone else, partly because of my illness, and also because I was embarrassed that they had heard our conversation.
There’s something about not being able to afford seeing a doctor that made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be cared for. As I sat there and waited, I felt ashamed. This wasn’t who I was before the recession hit. But many things I took for granted in my life have changed. I was glad I was wearing a mask.
Looking back there have only been a few months of my life when I didn’t have health insurance. The first time was 20 years ago. I was between jobs and my daughter had a seizure. It took me four years to pay the collection agency. This time is was work related again. My husband is retired and his Medicare will kick in this year—at night when he’s sleeping, I look at sunspots on his face and pray, “Please, please, let us make it until August.” I lost some high-paying writing gigs within a few weeks of each other and health insurance was the first to go from the monthly budget. Besides, I had been paying almost $500 a month for the both of us and the deductible was $10,000. In the four years that I paid for that insurance we had used it exactly once. We’re healthy people; we eat right and we exercise and live 20 miles from the nearest sneezing neighbor. I figured we would be fine until the next writing client sent me a check or when I found a policy we could afford.
I heard my name called and followed the nurse into a room. The doctor hurried in and told me my flu had turned into bronchitis.
“You should have come in sooner,” he scolded me as he wrote on my chart.
“I don’t have insurance,” I said a little louder this time. He didn’t even flinch as he continued to write.
“I’m going to prescribe this medicine, it’s about $40, can you afford that?” His manner was kinder.
I nodded yes.
“And this one is $8 dollars and another for about $5 dollars. Take these for two weeks and you should be back to normal.” He gave me a smile and looked me in the eyes. When we were done, I was surprised when he shook my hand because I had the flu. I didn’t know how the doctor would act toward me knowing I didn’t have insurance and this man treated me like a full human being, with kindness, care and respect.
I smiled behind my mask and thanked him.
As I was leaving I walked to the receptionist’s desk and pulled out my checkbook. I was going to write a check that I wasn’t sure I could cover.
“Would you like me to pay now?” I asked.
The same woman I had spoken to when I first came in, looked up. “No, they’ll send you the bill in a week or two,” she said. “And if you can’t pay it all at once, call and they’ll make payment arrangements with you.” Her voice was kind as well.
I took a deep breath, put my checkbook away and walked outside into the sunshine. I took off the face mask and found my husband waiting in the parking lot.
“You OK?” He asked, concern filling his face.
I could feel some of the shame and embarrassment leaving. Their kindness had mattered. It had mattered a lot.
“We’re going to be fine,” I said taking his hand. “I feel better already.”
The gap between the have yachts and the have nots is getting wider. But it’s not just about money. Growing inequality means a rich minority own most of the world’s resources and have a huge influence over decisions that affect ordinary people’s lives. We’re determined to make change happen.
Reblog if you agree inequality must be tackled now!
You may not have thought of Linda Ronstadt as a Mexican-American singer, but if you’ve heard her, you’ve heard her deep Sonoran roots. Hearing the ranchera singer Lola Beltrán for the first time can bring the shock of recognition to a Linda fan; there’s influence and long tradition behind that lustrous voice. Those old Mexican songs in Linda’s hit 1987 record “Canciones de Mi Padre” were ones she learned before she was 10.