What Didn’t Happen Yesterday

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to cry when Baxter woke up feverish, shaking with chills, and complaining of a sore throat. And again when, just a couple hours later, the doctor on call during our pediatrician’s Sunday walk-in hours looked at me gravely and said, “This is not a typical situation,” before leaving the room to check the strep test.  And once again when we walked my son over to the hospital for a throat x-ray and a blood draw in order to determine exactly what was wrong with his tonsil – and the rest of him.

I wanted to cry when the vomiting started and we were told that if he couldn’t hold down the strong antibiotic he’d have to be admitted to the hospital to receive it intravenously, and then again when my husband and younger son left to run to Walgreens to pick up the prescription while we were getting the tests done, leaving me to push my exhausted, weak son around the quiet hospital in the wheelchair that he’d requested.

I wanted to cry, not because I was so worried for my sick son.  No, although I felt awful for him, I knew he was taken care of and was probably going to be just fine, no matter what this miserable infection was.

Instead, I wanted to cry for all those without health insurance across this country, those who also woke up that day to find their sons and daughters feverish and clearly very ill but had nowhere decent to turn for care. How did that feel?

Where did they go?  Who cared for them? What kind of care did they receive?

If an abscess on their tonsil was suspected, were they sent to a high quality hospital right across the street for an immediate x-ray?  Did they have easy access to that Walgreens for the antibiotic, the one with the pharmacist who could recommend the grape flavor because it would best mask its horrible taste?  The one that gives out green alligator measuring spoons for the kids?  Was the order put in for a follow-up with the best ENT in the area the next day, with a nurse calling the ENT’s office on their behalf – in advance – to let the office know they’d be calling and that the doctor needed to fit this child in?  Did the nurse call again today to make sure they got an appointment?

All over this country, that’s not what happened yesterday.  But it should have.

I love my kids more than words can say, but their health is no more important than anyone else’s children’s health.  They don’t inherently deserve better care than any other child who woke up with a fever and infected throat. All I kept thinking through this ordeal was, “How could we be so fortunate?”

I’d gladly give up some of our medical perks and a portion of our income to see another child cared for.  Wouldn’t you?

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11 responses to “What Didn’t Happen Yesterday

  1. I absolutely would, especially after our daughter endured two weeks’ worth of hospital stays last summer … to the tune of $100K. Which we were blessed enough to not have to pay for.

  2. onebetamom

    Yes, I would be willing to pay more in co-pays and co-insurance to see that everyone, including adults, have proper health coverage.

    If you are at a low enough income, you can get your children on your state’s health plan (most states, I believe). Mom and Dad are usually not eligible, though.

    The issue to me is all of the people earning just over this low income bar but still unable to afford private plans or even an employer plan. What do they do?

    Also, I think not having access to affordable healthcare impacts entrepreneurs as well because it’s usually the scariest thing about jumping in and opening a business – not having health care. In our situation, I have to work full time in order to have the medical coverage for my family and husband who is a business owner. I can’t think of leaving the workforce until we’re at the point where we can afford some private plan. And I don’t really want to think about just how long that’s really going to take.

    Great post; got me thinking!

  3. Aw, Jordan, it gives me chills. I’ve had the same thought so many times– every time I look at Iris’s tiny scar on her lip, I think about how we just whisked her to the ER so she could get a stitch and not have a big scar. An artifact of her privilege as the daughter of a currently-employed
    and -insured father. This post is SO typical of you. I’m so glad you write this blog! Hugs to your little guy.

  4. Yes, I agree with Anna. This post is SO typical of you, in the best possible way and I, too, am glad you write this blog and tackle the topics you do. Healthcare is a crisis situation in this country. I wish there were easier solutions, faster fixes and better options. But, yes, for those of us who are fortunate enough to have access to good doctors and decent care…I’d be more than willing to share.

  5. If only more people felt this way. Thank you…with tears streaming. You remind me of the inherent goodness of humanity even when the media would have it be otherwise.

  6. This is an amazing post. You have taken what could have ben a very all-about-you post (which is not bad—I for one do it all the time), and turned it into an important we-need-to-think-about-the-whole-community post.

    I agree with you completely. Completely.

    Also, hope Baxter is feeling better.

  7. Christine Mannella

    The issue of medical insurance in our country is not only one felt by those who cannot afford insurance but by those who would gladly pay for coverage if an insurance company would cover them. I never gave medical insurance a second thought, my husband worked for a large corporation that provided (with a employee contribution) wonderful insurance. Insurance that got us through some of our darkest days. Days that I worried if my son would ever be healthy, ever speak or eat. I don’t know what I would have done if I had to think about mounting medical bills. A few years later my husband decided to go for his dream, we saved our money and thought we had it all planned out. I worked for a small company that has health insurance plans for employees but does not cover any of the cost, since the plan is near $1500 a month, we rode out our Cobra opportunity for as long as possible… then near the end we applied for a private medical plan thinking it wouldn’t cost nearly what my employer offered.

    A ton of forms and a few weeks later, I received a letter from the private health care insurance provider… Three of us accepted, but one six year old denied! He’s SIX!… he has not had the opportunity to smoke, eat crap, and choose not to excercise. He was dealt some bad cards as a toddler, things that were not in his control and now he is “uninsurarable” in the private healthcare sector.

    In a way I felt justified. I chose to work while my children were young. I was finally getting somewhere in my career of course as soon as children came into our lives. All those years of mommy guilt were finally swept away. I had my employer to rely on since they cannot turn you away. I am greatful everyday for my job and at this point surely dont’t mind paying the $1500 a month it costs for us to have medical care. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth everytime I think what would we have done had I chose to not work while my kids were young. I missed some great “mommy moments”, but feel greatful everytime I take out my insurance card.

    So while many of us can afford insurance, it may not be there even if you are prepared to write giant checks.

  8. Wonderful post. I agree wholeheartedly.

  9. sippycupnation

    I actually cannot say that I would give up some of my insurance “perks” to help others because as someone who self pays, my perks are non-existent. We pay A LOT OF MONEY to have catastrophic coverage – if something terrible goes wrong concerning the health of anyone in my family, the health insurance company picks up the tab AFTER the first $4k.

    And I know that if we should ever need our insurance – if one of us is diagnosed with cancer or diabetes or depression – our rates will become unaffordable – if we should even be so privileged to be covered at all.

    “Health care” is a misnomer. In the US, our model is “profit from the healthy – dump the sick.” It’s made our corporations less competitive (cost of health care is astronomical for them too!) And being able to pay for medical treatment has become a huge huge problem for too many people.

    anne

  10. Thanks for a beautiful post. I am glad Baxter is feeling better!

  11. Damn right I would.

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