Last Thursday I had a procedure to test the lining of my uterus for any signs of cancer. This one procedure is going to cost me $2,700 out of my pocket. And that is with decent insurance. An insurance I already pay $329.00 for every month.
It’s overwhelming and paralyzing at times. Did you know that medical bills are the number one reason people file personal bankruptcy? I’ll say that again. Medical Bills are the number one reason people file bankruptcy.
I’m not telling you this because I want something. I’m not telling you this because I expect anything. And I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this because this is a very big reality for many people. I am one of so many who has to figure out how they are going to scrape up the money to pay for something that just may save their life.
As much as I don’t want to put a price on my life I often find myself wondering where is the line I have to draw. How much can I really afford when I have to do these tests and procedures every single year all while still trying to have some kind of life. What's the give and take? Do I sacrifice living a life to save all my money to pay for these tests and procedures? I feel like I'm already pretty damn thrifty and frugal as it is. And at the end of the day, if this does come back with a vengeance don't I want to look back at my life and know that I lived too?
These procedures and tests aren’t something I have the luxury of missing. Believe me, I tried talking myself out of this one after I found out how much it was going to cost me but I just couldn’t because...what if this is the one. What if this is the one where they find my monster? What if this is the one, because caught early, saves my life?
Last week at my pre-op appointment with my oncologist he reminded me that this is still serious. He told me that two other people he treated with the same rare diagnosis, their monsters did eventually show up and believe me when I say this, the kind of cancer that eventually appeared would make just about anyone cringe.
And the truth is, if I can catch things early, then I can save myself from a whole lot of pain and suffering in the long run but at the same time, I’m doing this all by myself and I only make so much money and I can only afford to pay so much. As my mom always says, you can draw blood from a turnip.
And although I’m more than certain I’ll be just fine, it’s all just really fucked up sometimes. And as positive as I try to be about all of it, sometimes I sit in the bathtub and cry because I feel so alone with having to figure out all the details involved from procedures to payments.
And this is where I trip up. This is where a little bit of the pity party starts to creep in because I’m scared and I don’t know what to do.This is where I start to feel guilty for living my life and not saving every single penny for a rainy day. This is when the anxiety and overwhelm catch my breath and I crawl in bed and pray for something, anything to take the fear away.
But really this rant stems from the reading of another person committing suicide and me wondering if they had access to proper healthcare, to the proper dialog of mental illness, to proper care from people who...care. If so, could this have been prevented? Would they still be here? How much are we missing that could be prevented from mental health to physical health if we just had better care in general? If WE just cared more?
And I get it. If you’ve never been through something you just don’t think about it. I totally get it. But you guys, something has to change and in all honesty, we are the ones who have to demand the changes.
Something is really wrong when those of us that need these procedures to potentially save our lives are considering canceling them because we are wondering how we will pay for them.
Something is really wrong when people are losing everything because they can’t afford to pay for rising cost of healthcare.
And something is really wrong when someone is struggling to find hope and meaning in life and think killing themselves is the only answer when we should have more discussions and solutions for them. We need to have more dialog around the fact that there is nothing to be ashamed of if you struggle and suffer from mental health issues and you can't just affirm it away or paint some positive over it. We should be creating a safer world for people to share openly instead of feeling like they have to put on a fake smile to make everyone else more comfortable.
And for fuck sake, there is something incredibly wrong when we are more concerned about our right to bear arms over creating a system that truly works and where everyone has affordable, I mean truly affordable access to all forms of health care.
Every day people are having to make choices about their health and well-being that will affect their lives in significant and potentially deadly ways based solely on whether or not they can pay for it. Yet, our government doesn’t even blink an eye at shoveling an obscene amount of money towards, in my opinion, unnecessary military expenses or the potential funding for a frigging wall along the Mexico border. And now our president is threatening to shut down the federal government in September if Congress does not provide more funding to build said wall? Mr. President, I beg your pardon, but I do believe we have more pressing issues you narcissistic weasel.
Like people dying because they can’t afford to truly take care of themselves. People in so much frigging pain but can't do anything about it because they don't know where they will come up with the money to pay for it. So forgive me if I don't give a shit about your damn wall.
I am in a lot of chronic pain down my left side of my body and I just cancelled my physical therapy appointment for this week because I don’t know how I’ll continually pay my $70 copay plus whatever else they charge me every time I go to these appointments on top of the $2,700 medical bill I’m about to get. This doesn’t even cover all the other appointments and screenings that I have throughout the year. Again, I tell you this to paint a reality that a lot of people have to deal with. It's no wonder depression and anxiety and massive overwhelm are so prevalent.
This is the part of cancer and illness and disease no one really wants to talk about.
We like to just wear our colored ribbons and throw a few bucks at The American Cancer Society but it’s not truly getting to the issue. WE need to care more about our fellow human beings and what they are going through even when our own shit seems like too much to bear.
And yes, I know that everyone has their stuff. I truly get that. Life can be really expensive. Life can be really hard. But there has to be something more that can be done when it comes to people’s lives being at stake if they miss or can’t afford the care they need.
And maybe I'm missing something? Maybe these things do exist? In that case, we need to make them more available and known to everyone. Not something you have to ask for.
I know there is no easy solution here but in order for us to even come up with one, we have to really start to look at the problem. And not just when you are faced with something and it becomes a part of your own reality. We have to look at it from less of an ‘I’ perspective and more of a “We” perspective. We need to take care of each other people. We need to care more than just wearing a pink ribbon or throwing a few bucks at an organization and going about our day.
We have to, as a collective whole, stand up and say WE deserve better treatment and not just "I deserve better treatment." We are all born the same. No person should be treated better because of what’s in their bank account.
So I'm here to say that if you are going through something and don't know how you are going to get through it or pay for it, write to me. Let me share this with you and possibly our two minds together can create a solution. Becuase the last thing you need when going through all of this is to feel alone on top of it.