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LJ Idol Week 8: First World Problem

I hold the phone between my ear and shoulder, listening as intently as possible while still appearing to be working.

"I went to the doctor yesterday," the familiar voice is saying to me. He sounds tired, too serious, so unlike himself. "I got up and I remembered I promised you that I would go. I had to keep my promise to my girl." I smile a smile he cannot see. His promises to me are so important, he wants to keep them. I am that important.

"Thank you," I say. "I am so glad, Daddy." I am twenty-three and will forever refer to my father as "Daddy". I will also continue to nag him and look after him until the day one of us leaves the planet. It is the nature of our relationship. On a recent visit, I noticed he wasn't eating much at all. He insisted it was a stomach virus, but something about the situation wouldn't leave me alone. He dropped eighteen pounds without even trying, and found it difficult to eat a normal meal. It terrified me. I made him promise that if he still felt sick when he went to Connecticut to see my grandmother for Christmas, he would see a doctor.

Later that evening, he called me again. His doctor called that evening with the results of his blood tests and asked how soon my father could get to the emergency room. Fifteen minutes later, my father had an IV in his arm with several types of antibiotics dripping into his veins. The stomach virus he thought he had was a serious infection in his blood, which could have killed him. The doctors were especially concerned because he has a defect in one of the valves in his heart, which could have caused the infection to spread there as well. Thankfully, it didn't get that far.

My father spent over a week in the hospital being pumped full of antibiotics, going through test after test to assess his health. This would be concern enough for anyone, except there was one additional problem: my father does not have health insurance. I can't remember the last time he did. He never sees a doctor, gets blood work done, gets a check-up. He's been turned down by health care companies for his heart defect (before pre-existing conditions were eliminated), and his job in catering does not provide health care. I think my father believed he could wait until he was old enough for Medicare before he needed health insurance, but he is two years away. For most people in this country, being without health insurance does not equal an eight plus day stay in the hospital, with all necessary tests and medications provided. For most people, no health insurance at some point puts you out on your ass, blood infection or no blood infection. Yet my father is not most people: while he barely has any money, my grandmother does. Our last name wouldn't mean a thing in Fort Lauderdale, where my father lives, but it carried some weight in Greenwich Hospital.

In America, your last name and who your parents are can hold weight, if you're lucky. It can say all the things you could never say out loud, like, "We're good for it; run all the tests you need." Money and the promise of money can turn a real dilemma into a first-world problem, and in this case, I'm pretty damn glad.



( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 8th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
Boy, that sounds scary - it's a good thing your dad has such a caring daughter! *hugs*
Jan. 9th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
I'm glad your dad is okay. As someone who also was uninsured with a serious health problem, I can relate to your dad's position all too well.
Jan. 9th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hope you are doing all right as well. It's a scary position to be in.
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
I'm glad your Dad got the care he needed, and that he isn't (at least I assume not) saddled with gigantic health care debts.

The health insurance problem makes me angry. I grew up in Canada, where everyone has health insurance. yes, it takes forever to get in to see the doctor sometimes, but these emergency situations are always dealt with speedily, no questions asked.
Jan. 9th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
In this case, the US is much more like a third world country. In places like Denmark, everybody receives medical care free of charge, but not in the USA. IN third world countries, if you've got money, you're covered. Otherwise, tough luck.
Jan. 9th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
You have a point there. Even here, if you have insurance, what is covered is dictated by the insurance company. It's a mess.
Jan. 10th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
Wow- I'm glad your dad got the treatment he needed!
Jan. 10th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
I'm glad your father got the care he needed, but it sucks that it's even a question.
Jan. 10th, 2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right. What scares me most is that if he'd been at home when he entered the hospital instead of where his family is, I think the outcome would not have been as positive as it was.
Jan. 10th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Holy shit, that is scary. My own mother has had a plethora of health problems this last year, and I know how terrifying it is when the cause is finally isolated, and you know exactly what is going on.
Jan. 10th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
I'm glad your dad came out of everything okay. I'd be very grateful, too, for any leg up I could find in such a situation. What happened was truly a blessing.
Jan. 11th, 2011 08:35 am (UTC)
I'm really glad that your father got the help he needed at your insistence. You really helped save his life. The health care crisis is so serious in this country. I really hope the health care reform will ease some things, but I know it still won't be near as good as other countries with universal health care.
Jan. 11th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
Read and Approved By Spydie Lives
Jan. 12th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
I liked this. :)
Jan. 12th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
It happens with insurance too. We have insurance and they're refusing to pay for any of my care. There's no way to fight them either, we've tried. You either have to have much more money than we've got to hire the lawyers for it or you've got to have the sympathetic public eye. As I'm a (seemingly) white, overweight woman with no children, there's no press catch.

I'll never get the health care I need, which means in about ten years --- if I have that long --- I'll be gone. I'm not even forty yet.

Thank goodness your father had something to fall back on. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, insurance or not.
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