[Content Note: Illness, Doctors]
I'm sick. I've been sick since Monday, only I didn't realize it until Wednesday when it got particularly bad. I'm disappointed because I always, always get sick once every Winter/Spring with something that takes ~10 days to clear up, and I'd really hoped that I'd missed it this year. Nope!
Today is Friday, and I feel like shit. That's expected when you're sick. But the last thing I wanted was to have a weekend emergency and spend another several thousand dollars at the Emergency Room, so I weighed my options and got in to see my doctor today.
She did not--and for this I am grateful--diagnose me with Fat. Apparently my coughing, drainage, and lung condition were enough to point to something more substantial in terms of a diagnosis. She looked at a lot of body parts, listened to a few more, and declared it "not bronchitis and not pneumonia" but probably instead an "upper respiratory virus" that should be treated symptomatically, i.e., she gave me a cough syrup (that is in reality a sleep-through-coughing syrup because it make you drowsy but doesn't stop the coughing) and told me to rest and take Mucinex. Fine.
They didn't take blood while I was there, or scrape my throat, or do a strep culture or anything else medicinal like that. It's very possible that there was no need to, based on my symptoms--that giving me a strep or flu test would have been as useful as giving me a kidney biopsy. That's fine, too. But what is interesting to me is how relieved I was that they didn't test for anything, because tests cost money.
My family has what is called down here "good insurance", even though it has steadily gotten terrible and I'm not sure how often we're allowed to re-evaluate whether it meets the parameters of "good" anymore. What it means in practice is that it costs me $100 just to talk to my doctor; anything on top of that causes the visit to go up in price. Sometimes astronomically.
I don't really know how many times you and I and everyone has to say how fucked up and broken this is before it gets fixed, but it is fucked up and broken. And it's hard not to keep that in mind when you're coughing up your lungs for ~10 days, and then spend the next ~10 days after that weak and disoriented and tired and frantic because you're trying to catch up on all the things you were 'supposed' to be doing while ill. And all the while you're wondering if maybe this was something that could have been treated if only you'd been able to afford the kind of care that lets the doctors investigate properly.
Our country's health care system makes people sicker and more miserable than they need to be.