J, my 'stepdaughter' ( interesting family dynamic...email me off loop if you're confused), finally had her gall bladder removed yesterday.
Why was this so important?
For years she has struggled to maintain a job, provide for her two kids, and fend for herself. But something always has seemed to work against her.
She started off last year being let go from her job, due to being 'late' too many times. She had an agreement with the owner of the company which allowed her to work midnight-5am, go home, get her children (kindergarten and pre-K) off to school by 6am (that is when the daycare opened), and return to her job and work two more hours.
I don't know the particulars; all I know is that she'd been 'habitually 3 minutes late', so after the 10th time, she was let go.
She resumed bartending, and sending out applications everywhere. No luck. And then her stomach started acting up. Since she had no health insurance, she went to the sliding-scale hospital downtown, who informed her it looked as if her gall bladder was slightly inflamed, and referred her to a doctor.
Doctor #1 ran tests, which came back 'inconclusive' and referred her to another one.
Doctor #2 ran more tests, and concluded she was simply having another diverticulius flare-up and ordered medicine.
Guess what? Thanks to my spouse, she was able to get it refilled once or twice. Problem continued.
She suffered, not being able to eat a whole lot, and took a lot of pain medicine. In Janurary of this year, she could no longer afford her apartment, but a friend who had hired her to work in his security business graciously moved her and the kids in with him.
In May, he ordered her back to the ER, same one. This time, doctor #3 gets involved, and diagnoses something else. She goes to Dr. #4; nope, everything's fine.
In the meantime, fed up with being in constant pain and little money, she applied for Medicaid. She was approved, and by this time, the four of them became aware of a rent-to-own house two blocks away from the kids' school. They looked at it, and decided the rent amount was in their budget. They move in.
J calls to tell me about being approved for Medicaid, and do I know a good doctor in her area? I don't, but tell her to get her butt to the BETTER of the three hospitals. Last month, she went to the ER and was diagnosed with gall bladder issues (duh...wasn't that the first diagnosis??). She's referred to a specialist the following week.
Doctor #6 sticks a camera down her her GI tract. Yes, it's either her gall bladder or scar tissue from the diverticulum surgery when she was 15. He schedules a meeting with the surgeon.
Surgeon takes a look at the films and schedules her for surgery. He'll do it laproscopicly, unless the scar tissue gets in the way. If it does, he'll have to open her up.
She called last night; laproscopy worked, and she already feels 99% better. Sore from the surgery, but otherwise, she can eat without a burning sensation.
What was the difference? Was it her her lack of health care, or just a poor choice of hospitals? Doctors who know their patients are having trouble paying, or doctors who actually CARE about their patients? Or was it her lack of health insurance?
I'm having an issue with our family doctor down here myself. We ran up a $300 bill with them last winter, and am having trouble paying, due to the spouse's late start at work. His office has told me that until the bill is paid, they will not treat my children. What the hell happened to the Hippocratic Oath? The Code of Ethics? In many hospitals, I've seen the signs that 'you will not be denied treatment based on ability to pay' (or something like that). Why does this not extend to doctor's offices?
As I said in an earlier post, my daughter had a sinus infection. Fortunately, I still have a doctor up north who knows my kids. He called in a prescription for her, and it cost us $5 for the antibiotics. We're making payments to the office, trying to pay down the balance as much as possible before D is laid off for the winter.
I don't know what the answer to the health care issue is; I've heard both sides of the argument. The only thing I can do is pray that Congress makes the right decision for the American People. And that my husband works enough hours so we don't lose our health insurance. Plus, healthy kids this winter.