It started a week and a half ago. My BFF, Tammie, called me at the library asking what time I got off.
It was 5:15.
I had ridden my bike to work that day, but I told her I'd stop on my way home.
Her belly was killing her in a pain she hadn't felt before.
She was throwing up from the pain, not from being sick.
Paranoid we'd go to the ER and they would tell her it was gas, I convinced her that was
better knowing, than thinking she was dying...or possible appendicitus.
So off we went and after a zillion tests, drugs and tears, she discovered she had a cyst on her
ovary the size of a grapefruit.
Yes: A grapefruit.
Grapefruits are yummy and pretty--this didn't seem a happy comparison.
The ER doc told her she needed to see her OB GYN if she had one.
Tammie explained that she had one, but she didn't have insurance.
I watched the Dr.'s face as she didn't know what to say to her lack of coverage.
17.1% of Americans have no insurance and I'm sure Tammie wasn't the first person they saw that night
without it--but maybe she was the first person they had to figure out what to actually do with once she left the ER.
The Dr. decided she was going to make a couple calls because "this isn't like you just need pills," she said. I was assuming BC pills, but who knows? She kept saying that a doctor would do the "right thing" in this situation. I didn't quite know what that meant because in my niave mind, shouldn't they always do the right thing?
So at 3am they send her home with drugs and for her to call a hospitals' Women Center the next day. They would work with her lack of insurance.
She did what she was told.
She had her appointment.
They didn't know if it was cancerous or not.
Tammie was scared and I was trying to be strong, but god it sucked. I have to be strong enough everyday I've decided if my best friend is ever dying again I'll just be strong in waves.
So a few days go by and Memorial Day shows up with a passionate fire.
Back to the ER, but a different one many miles awhile....
This one sucked.
We had a PA (physician assistant) who lacked bedside manners. Once upon a time my job was to help history taking skills with med students...this one needed my help, but as my best friend was puking from pain non stop, I decided to just be annoyed with him instead.
And then finally after Tammie turning into evil hospital patient, the correct dr.'s were in to see her, do more tests and discover her grapefruit had grown since Wednesday.
Emergency surgery discovered her ovary had twisted around the cyst, ovarian torsion, cutting off the blood supply creating the intense pain. Whew.
And then less than 2 hours later, they sent her home.
Was this because of no insurance or do they normally send home a surgery patient directly afterwards?
I keep wondering. I have to go with lack of insurance, but maybe it's considered out-patient these days. I do keep thinking though how it could have been different if she would have had insurance. Would they have taken her symptoms more serious? Would it have even gotten this far before it needed to be removed?
Thank goodness her sister came to help this week and she's alive, WITHOUT CANCER, and doing well. And her first ER doctor was right--Dr.s did do the right thing in helping her--they didn't care if she was insured or not. And they shouldn't.
Unless you've been uninsured it's a hard concept to fully see. I've been on both sides in my adult life. I can tell you being insured provides better facilities, options and care--but in the end--a doctor is a doctor is a doctor. And you trust they will make you better whether you have insurance or not.
So thanks to the docs who help. Thanks to Tammies sister for taking care of her this week. And thanks Tammie for still being alive and being my person.
Much love and gratitude.