Saturday, May 5, 2012

Humanism in Action

This past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for me. I have had a few health problems my whole life, but despite seeing lots of different doctors, no cures have materialized. Now that I live in Ohio, I decided to try to find new doctors and see if they could help. The two biggest problems are with my feet and my intestines/poophole.

I'm a gainfully employed adult with pretty decent insurance coverage. However, insurance doesn't cover everything. When I decided I wanted to go to a podiatrist and a proctologist, I needed to go to my GP for referrals ($25/a visit). After I was referred, I had to take an entire afternoon off work to drive 20 minutes to my foot doctor ($50 copay/visit). He told me I needed to come back for an MRI before he could conclusively say anything ($450), although odds are, I'll probably need surgery. Fuck.

Meanwhile, I visited the proctologist and had an exam ($50 copay for that appointment)...only to be told I need a treatment ($50) and a colonoscopy that apparently will not be fully covered, because I haven't reached my $1,500 deductible (although I'm not sure how much it will cost).

There are more doctors appointments that I will need to have after these treatments (to follow up), and it takes time away from work and also costs me $50 per visit. This is adding up quickly. I may very well meet my deductible within the next month or two. But keep in mind that $1500 is almost 2 paychecks for me. I'm not complaining about how much I make (it's decent pay for entry level non-profit). But...this is scary for me.

So, I do what I normally do: tell Twitter about my fears. Every time my doctor or receptionist told me, "Okay, you owe this much," I was trying not to cry (and usually failing, because I suck at containing emotions). How was I going to deal with this?

I took to Twitter and said this:

Given the amount of RT's and favorites, it was obviously resonating with people. I am not the only person who worries about this.

So, while I'm freaking out about everything, my friend Sarah tweets something about a surprise. Since she's a graphic designer, I figured it was a new design of hers, since she sells her designs online, and they are awesome. But, of course, I hate secrets, so I started badgering her about it.

That was weird to me. Sarah and Amanda know each other, but why would Amanda know the secret? I use my detective skills to deduce that it must have something to do with Camp Quest (because Amanda is the Executive Director), but I still WANT TO KNOW.

August knows too. Stupid husband privileges, I think. There's some more banter (including August saying "INCEPTION!," which caused me to snort), and then I go to bed, obviously unconcerned. The next morning, I get to work and Sarah tweets. I respond in a calm and adult manner.

Keep in mind, at this point, I still think it's a new design of hers. There's some banter, and she asks if I deserve to know the surprise now. I think it's weird that she mentioned me specifically (because I assumed everyone else wanted to know as well), but I figure it's just banter because I want to know the most (oh, I forgot, I also texted Sarah the night before, wanting to know). 

Then Sarah tells me to check my email. Weird, why isn't she just posting it on Twitter? I think. I pick up my phone (since personal emails go straight to my phone) and I see this:
(I blanked it out, but it's a considerable sum of money.) I immediately start sobbing in my office. Not just a few tears, full-on sobbing. JT (my office mate) actually rushed over and asked what was wrong. It took a few minutes to calm down to tell him.

Sarah also drew this amazing card to go along with it:

So there you have it. Sarah, Rick, James, Matt, Sean, Andy, Felice, Amanda, August, and Adam are all the best people in the world, and the collective owners of my heart (and all shareholders in my butt now as well, apparently). I linked to all of their twitters, and they're all wonderful and worth following. You should also check out their respective blogs and/or organizations.

Andy and August's organization, the SSA (coincidentally, also my organization)
Amanda's organization, Camp Quest, secular summer camp

So, go check out their stuff. Thank them, hug them, all that. 

I'm going to go pretend I'm not crying again. STUPID FEELINGS.

But seriously. Thank you to everyone, from the bottom of my heart. Your support, whether financial or emotional, is greatly appreciated. This is truly humanism in action.


  1. That's so lovely. We complain a lot in the UK about our healthcare system but it's so easy to forget how lucky we are. I wish you good health for the future.

  2. It's great to know that so many your back ;)

    I wish I could give you more than emotional support right now. When I saw the bill for my DVT/PE hospitalization, and then totaled up what only two months of outpatient treatment cost, I felt worse than when my life was hanging in the balance, in pain and with no diagnosis. You're totally right that cost can seem like the biggest problem when you're sick.

    Anyway, don't be hard on yourself about emotions and crying. I get weird and particular about how often I cry and who I do it around, but we can hug one out the next time I see you, let it all out with happy tears and sad tears, and go through as many boxes of kleenex as necessary.

  3. I get so angry when I hear stories like this. America is the wealthiest, most technologically advanced country in the world, and yet, for probably a majority of the population, getting sick is a crushing, unaffordable burden - even for people who have insurance! It's so outrageous to me that we haven't solved this yet, and even more outrageous that there are so many elected officials that are actively trying to prevent us from solving it.

    But that aside, I want the secular community to be a place where we take care of our own. I make more than enough money, and I'm happy to give some away to people who have a greater need for it than I do. Besides, the SSA is a really fantastic organization. Like I said on Twitter, if keeping you well helps keep them running, I'm happy to view this as an in-kind donation to them. :)

  4. I hope things work out. Co-pays are probably a good idea and should not be a big deal in theory, but a) they certainly have crept up form the old 10 to 15 dollar range. $50 is not a copay. It's a charge. Copays should be limited across time (paying several in one week in a network is crazy) and across medical issues ... like bus transfer slips, once you pay one for something the followup visit they require because of their schedule, not yours, should never be a copay. And frankly, none of this would matter much at all if it all feel under the deductible AND the deductible was something much more reasonable (1,500 is a LOT).

    Anyway, Sarah, it's good to have good friends, and you seem to have that!

  5. and b) ... b).... well, whatever, you get the point.