Monday, February 21, 2011

Guest Post: The Joys of Life Without Health Insurance

I'm taking a little break this week, but I still have some top quality migraine content to share! So, please give a warm welcome to a fellow migraineur and blogger, and my friend, Christine.

Hi everyone, my name is Christine. I write about eco-friendliness at Simple Savvy, love agave ketchup, and have been getting migraines once or twice a week for the past five years. I er... also don’t have health insurance.

I used to live in New Hampshire, where this isn’t an unusual occurrence. There are a lot of things like that in New Hampshire. People expect you to tough it out. “Live free or die” is the state motto, where “free” means, “don’t butt into my business, thank-you-very-much, and I don’t want to know about yours.” I’ve had to go to extensive measures managing my triggers, but doing so enables me to handle the migraines with OTC meds and some holistic remedies. Well, for the most part.

Mr. Savvy and I moved to Connecticut last month to be closer to my family. We were also escaping from a bad housing situation. I’d tell you details, but then you’d get nightmares! Suffice it to say, we didn’t get jobs before we moved. We assumed that one or both of us would be able to find something with health insurance included once we got down here. So far, nothing -- state of the economy and all that. Again, my migraines are manageable with over-the-counter pills. It’s not awesome, and it’s not easy, but it’s my way of coping, so I’m okay going without insurance for a little while.

Well, the inevitable happened: I got a migraine that needed more than I could give it. It was one of those migraines where you’re surprised by the intensity and knocked on your ass by the length. None of my usual coping mechanisms touched it, and it gave every indication of continuing forever. I was unprepared for it, and Mr. Savvy and I decided I needed a doctor to give me some heavier duty meds. In general, I like triptans. They work for me and I feel okay taking them since they’re on the mild end of migraine meds. That, and walk-in clinics usually have no problem prescribing them.

The ever supportive Mr. Savvy found a clinic, rustled up my health records, and figured out how to get there. He guided me through the check-in process and sat with me while the doctor made me wait. And it was a long wait.

And then suddenly, the doctor came in and I was addicted to narcotics. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was the lack of health insurance, but the doctor lectured me for a good fifteen minutes about how he was going to give me Percocets but I shouldn’t go “doctor hopping” for prescription narcotics because the police catch up with you if you do that in Connecticut, and he doesn’t know how things were in New Hampshire, but it’s just not tolerated here in the land of civility and snobbery. Or something. He also told me I could have meningitis, or maybe there’s a tumor growing behind my eye, insinuated that Mr. Savvy is a bad husband, and seemed flabbergasted that I had no one but myself managing my migraines. No, I couldn’t possibly have done any research about my condition, or know anything beyond what HE knew, which was, admittedly, very little. But anyway. He also checked me for track marks.

It was subtle -- he partially pushed up my shirt sleeve and made a big deal about how the blood pressure cuff wouldn’t fit around my wrist (wrist! not even elbow!) with my sleeve only pushed up partway. So I rolled my sleeve all the way up to my shoulder. He turned my arm inside out, saw the lack of track marks, cuffed me, and took my blood pressure.

He then refused to listen when I told him that in fact I did NOT want narcotics, a simple triptan would do. It took both Mr. Savvy and I repeatedly saying, “triptans. I would rather have triptans. Give me some triptans” for him to get it. And when we (used loosely here -- Mr. Savvy did most of the talking) confronted the man about accusing us of being drug users, not wanting narcotics, and never doctor-hopping before, he was all, “Oh right, well I’m just letting you know. In case you decide to in the future.” It couldn’t be more plain that the man didn’t believe a word we said.

Sigh. I eventually got the meds, got the help I needed, got rid of the migraine. I don’t remember ever feeling so low before over a doctor’s visit. I’ve certainly never been accused of abusing drugs. Lying about the migraines, making up the frequency, intensity, food triggers -- sure. That’s an everyday occurrence. But narcotics? Never crossed my mind.

And you know what gets to me the most? The fact that I can laugh about this, that I almost have to. It’s so typical of chronic pain experiences that there’s nothing else to do except use this as a good line at parties. “One time, this doctor accused me of being addicted to drugs. Har har!”

You can read more by Christine over at Simple Savvy, the simple living blog where migraine posts are in short supply, but there's plenty of puppy love to go around.


steph said...

Ugh, situations like these, if you don't laugh, you might just cry. And then sometimes both anyway. Sigh. Thanks for sharing this story Christine! And for giving me a little vacation with no blog abandonment guilt! Come back any time!

Jessica said...

That totally pisses me off!!!

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Great guest post Christine. I wonder why they think people with NO INSURANCE can doctor hop??? That ain't easy!!