I looked around the infusion suite on 16 South at Bellevue Hospital. We were all women. We were all tired and sick slumped a bit randomly in our recliners. I was getting what I consider a lethal dose of IV steroids, the woman next to me was getting blood to help her body rebuild marrow radiation treatments killed to save her from cancer. The other women, other drugs.
I looked around the infusion suite, we are such lucky dogs; we, the “takers” at Bellevue. We, the deadbeats lazing our days away to avoid paying for our own health care. What a view from the 16th floor!
The woman next to me exasperatedly told the nurse, “I have to get to work in East New York by noon!” It would not be a short commute from 27th and 1st. The nurse (I have seen her there before, she is good at nailing my vein on the very first stick) told her she would do the best she could to push her infusion so she wouldn’t be late. The woman next to me wasn’t lazy enough I guess. She has a job.
I bet those other women had jobs too. And kids. Probably a few kids.
I am white, the nurses black and of Asian descent, the other patients: black, Asian, another white lady like me and a Hispanic woman with a beautiful smile.
This experience is what we have in common (aside from having lady-ginas): we are among those needing services from a place like Bellevue. That is our sub-caste. It is very important to discuss the discrepancy in health care between races and sexes. But that wasn’t my concern looking around the infusion suite. To me we were all bound together like survivors of a shipwreck. We just needed to look at one another to understand. No one else could really know what we had been through that lead up to us being where we were. No one knew what wrecked our ship.
For my part I am really lazy. I abhor work so I write. The thing that keeps me from being able to get any insurance is this pesky multiple sclerosis. I have a husband who has insurance through his work. I could get insurance through him. This was terribly exciting to me. But there’s a catch (of course!). The policy stipulates those with pre-existing conditions must be symptom free for one-year prior to coverage.
These people don’t understand the meaning of the word “chronic” in chronic illness. I haven’t been fully symptom free since I was diagnosed with MS seven years ago (which I know Senator Ted Cruz has no interest in).
So, here I sit. Sucking up all this free Solumedrol all you suckers out there paid for. But before you get all up in my grill about my take, take, taking, I do have over $5,000 in MRI bills, upward of $1000 in lab costs and pay to see my neurologist out-of-pocket at his private office.
Maybe knowing I am constantly sending payments to labs, trying to whittle down that sweet MRI bill and over the last two years forked out thousands more during my chronic, uncoverable illness will pep you “I hate Obamacare grrrr” people up. I sure as shit hope so.
Andy Kopsa is a writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Ms. Blog, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check and The American Independent. She is a native Iowan and former Iowa newspaper editor. She blogs at Off The Record and you can find her on Twitter @andykopsa.