Sick Days
October 19, 2011, 2:27 am
Filed under: overtly political | Tags: , ,

“I was worried.”
“I thought you were not worried at all. You kept telling me I was going to be fine.”
“What was I supposed to say? Hey, I think you’re going to die?”

I felt a little unwell. Mildly sort of unwell. My friends were leaving town, farmwork suddenly finished, and I went to their house for some quiet farewell celebrations. Then, suddenly, I went uncontrollably exorcist on their floor. I threw up so hard there was backsplash and I had to get in the shower to try and get it off me as they threw my clothes in the laundry and cobbled together a new outfit.

Within an hour my urine was full of blood. Pouring bright red. By 1 a.m. I was walking twenty minutes to the ER, hoping it was open, searching on my phone for signs it was open, because no one has cars and no one is from here.

In the emergency room, the apparent lack of pain made things seem routine to the attending. Vomit and a little blood are standard, I’m sure. Then I gave him the sample, which was actually a cup full of blood, and he suddenly asked me about next of kin and repeatedly if it was at all possible I had been hit really hard in the kidneys and failed to notice. Then I heard him on the phone – too much blood in the sample to even read it, he didn’t know what to do.

They gave me a pill and the most hi tech barf bag I’ve ever seen. Then more pills, telling me to come back in seven hours. One of my friends slept on my floor in case something went really wrong, to fully appreciate this you should know that my floor has some of the most suspect carpet I have ever seen.

The pills worked, the blood stopped, I did not experience organ failure down under.

The other part of this story is that I called my insurer only to find out there was a mistake I didn’t notice when the policy issued and I had just found myself uninsured in a first class medical system. With lab tests pending and a lack of clarity about whether what was being used to treat me was even, in fact, going to work long term. I laid in bed, passing in and out of sleep, wondering how close to a thousand this little adventure would run.

Yesterday I paid the bill at the hospital (and hopefully fixed my insurance). $177. For two visits, lab tests and an arsenal of strong antibiotics. Given how much everything else costs in this country, I practically hugged the woman at accounts.

I’m sure there are a lot of morals to this story but the main one for me is that living in a country with public health care is amazing. There is nothing like having to ask yourself, on a twenty minute walk to an emergency room as your bladder pumps full of blood and your mouth tastes like vomit, whether your insurer will Cover This and how quickly you should call them. There is nothing like dealing with caustic claims people whose job it is to exclude you from coverage however possible. The Canadian healthcare system has a lot of things that could and should be changed but the cost to access it is not negotiable.


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