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My Lovely Surgery, Or Why We Need Health Reform

May 18, 2011

After six months of mind-numbingly painful attacks, I finally wound up in the emergency room and the diagnosis was unanimous -- my gallbladder had to come out.

I had been milking when the attack hit me so hard I could scarcely breathe. I was immediately bathed in sweat so thick it saturated my shorts and shirt. I stumbled into the house, took off my shoes and socks -- I don’t really know why -- then I went in and threw up the hardly anything I’d eaten that day. It didn’t help. The attack continued to get so severe that I wound up in a fetal position in the floor. Finally, I told Lynn to take me to the emergency room. She told me to put on my shoes. I said I couldn’t, and stumbled out of the house and into the car. She drove me to the hospital.

I stumbled into the emergency room at 11:00 at night, covered in sweat and wearing my work clothes stained with paint and now covered in sweat and puke, and I tell them how I’m feeling. They take one look at me and decide, since I don’t have insurance and am not on any government aid program, that I must be a junkie. So they stuck me in a room and refused to let Lynn come back with me, even though I told them that she is the one to make any medical decisions. They gave me some liquid crap and ran a drug test, all the while refusing to give me any pain killers until they can figure out what sort of drugs I’m on. Now anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do drugs, and that I am, in fact, the most anti-drug person I know.

After an hour and a half, they gave me a shot of Demerol. The doctor walked in and says it’s my gallbladder, and that I need an ultrasound. Then he releases me. I am there all of an hour and 45 minutes. The hospital charged me $700. That doctor charged me $500. And get this -- they supposedly knocked 60% off because I didn’t have insurance or Medicaid.

Of course, I got on the Internet and soon found there were only like two things I could eat safely. They gave me a prescription for Loratabs for the pain, but like I said -- I don’t like drugs. I would only use them after I started to have an attack, at which point it would take about an hour for them to kick in.

I had trouble actually getting the ultrasound scheduled, so Audree came in from out of town to help. She speaks the right language and got me in on Monday for the ultrasound. I had to show up with $275 to pay for it. They then told me I must go to my primary physician – another $75 -- so that he could read my image (which Audree and I had already seen, so we knew there were serious stones) and refer me to a surgeon. But the doctor didn’t want to give me an appointment until the Wednesday of the next week. Audree talked to him, and he got me in that day. Then, well, I was scheduled to see the surgeon the next day. Why? Because my gallbladder duct work was actually closed up with a couple of stones. The intense pain I’d been having was the gallbladder building up pressure. After that, the next step would pancreatic shutdown and/or gallbladder death. This was serious, folks.

So the surgeon sees me, but wanted to schedule me for surgery for two days later. I said, “You don’t understand. I have to do DragonCon next Thursday. It’s the biggest show I do all year. I can’t blow it off.”

He said, “Now, Ms. Rosen I don’t think you’ll be up to a trip like that so soon, even if we do the surgery tomorrow.”

I said, “No, you didn’t hear me. I said it’s the biggest show I do all year -- as in if I don’t do it, I’m not going to be able to even think about paying your bill.”

He said, “You know, I don’t see any reason you can’t make that trip.” And then he schedules me for surgery the next day. That visit was $100.

I’m barely home when the hospital called and said they had to have a $1,600 deposit. I tell them I don’t have it. I have to I ask them if I’m supposed to die because I’m broke. They tell me to go on Medicaid. I then have to explain that I can’t, because the fact that I don’t have a penis means I can’t be on Lynn’s insurance, but if I file for Medicaid they count her income, so I’m not eligible. I tell her I can maybe scrape up $500. They take the $500. So at this point, I’m out $950 and no one has done anything yet.

I had the surgery the next day. From the moment I walked in the door and gave them all the money I had left until I left the hospital was maybe a total of four hours. As I’m coming out of the anesthetic, while I’m still in a drug-addled haze, they came in and told me I had 10 minutes to get dressed and leave, or they’d charge me for another day.

So I get dressed and Audree takes me home. Thank G-d for Audree.

All together, I maybe spent a total of six hours actually talking to doctors and in the hospital. For the most part I was treated like scum, except by my surgeon. He rocked!

To have my gallbladder removed cost me a little over $10,000. I’ve started making the biggest payments I can make to the six different places that all want my money. It’s been just four weeks. They have all accepted my payments. But yesterday I got a nasty letter from the hospital about my horribly delinquent account, telling me I must pay the $8,000 in full or they will turn me over to a credit agency. They tell me to pay with a credit card, as if I have a credit card I could charge $8,000 on.

So for all you people who think the health care system is just fine the way it is -- well I’m here to tell you it’s not.

 

Selina

If you enjoy these bitches, please contact Selina directly at selinarosen@cox.net. Thanks!

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