Dear readers who are my favorite (which is all of you),
The past few days I have been mostly bedridden thanks to my belly. The good news is that for once I’m sick with a completely average tummy virus. The bad news is that considering I already have several illnesses that cause variants of nausea and abdominal discomfort, it has been extra unpleasant. I’ve been on a steady diet of water, gatorade, Ruffles and soup, quarantined in my new bedroom to keep away from my adoptive mothers that I now live with.
I had only returned from Michigan Monday night and without rest was determined to set up my new room. I detest living out of boxes and wanted to feel at home, and the only way I could quell my anxiety was to unpack as quickly as possible. By Thursday morning I had successfully brought my room together. I was feeling accomplished and exhausted, and after work promptly plopped onto my new bed with ill fitting bedsheets; still I was satisfied, because it was my bed.
I awoke in the middle of the night feeling as if I was burning up and was horribly nauseous. I called for my momma Rose, and thankfully since she is a night owl, she came to my assistance. Normally when a person wakes in the middle of the night with such symptoms they can easily assume it’s either a virus or food poisoning. I however am by no means average, and wake up feeling this way more than I’d like to.
The culprit is almost always Vasovagal Syncope accompanied by orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure that fluctuates abnormally). Together they cause me to have horribly painful episodes followed by losing consciousness. Passing out is one of my least favorite experiences, so as I’ve gotten more familiar with these particular disorders, I’ve tried my best to beat them. I had asked Rose for the proper tools to alleviate my misery, and I started to dry heave, praying to finally throw up as it generally makes me feel better. Despite the ice, water, and elevation of my feet, unlike usual, the suffering only got worse.
I was awake the remainder of the night, struggling to keep myself from fainting or throwing up. I waited until morning so that I could go to Urgent Care, however reminded myself that because I have recently gone from having absolutely no insurance to having Medicaid, I am able to receive some care, though not much. I called several Urgent Cares that were minutes away from my home, none of who would take me. I finally gave up and drove twenty minutes downtown to go to the low income clinic that would see me.
I arrived at the clinic and to my pleasure there was not much of a wait, the doctor was kind and helpful, and within a few hours I had my diagnosis and a bag of medication that I paid very little for. I was promptly on my way home, miserable yet well taken care of.
When I lived with my biological mother, despite her abusiveness and lack of care, I had excellent health insurance through her work. I was able to see nearly every kind of specialist I needed, and as I grew, so did my team of medical specialists in order to get me through my life. It was all expensive and bills piled up quickly, but I was never rejected from a clinic or hospital. I understood how privileged I was to have such good healthcare and tried my best to not take it for granted, but often would complain about the fact that at my young age, I should not have to see as many doctors as I did or have to be as sick as I am.
When I moved away from my family to St. Louis, Missouri, I lost my health insurance. My team of doctors begged me not to move because they knew I would struggle terribly, but I told them it would not matter as I would not have my mother’s insurance forever. Within months of moving I had applied for disability only to receive a two year wait period, and each of my five Medicaid applications were instantly rejected. The only place I could go for medical help that would not reject me was the Emergency Room. Though I was thankful I at least had the Emergency Room, I was constantly deflated because it was always filled with those who were truly in emergency situations while those such as myself with no insurance didn’t particularly need emergency help, but had nowhere else to go.
At my lowest point last year, my anxiety and depression were getting uncontrollable. I couldn’t find a job, was chronically ill with no medical care, had little support from friends and family, was in an unhealthy relationship, and I began struggling to find a good reason to stay alive. I reached out to suicide hotlines and thankfully, one particular hotline I had found from a simple Google search lead me to a wonderful woman who was not only able to talk to down, but referred me out to a mobile crisis intervention program. Two days after my call, two kind men showed up at my door, talked to me in detail about my situation, and at the end of it all referred me to a program for long term help. At my qualification interview at the center, I was considered an emergency patient, was immediately accepted into the program, and within a week suddenly had a social worker and a psychiatrist.
I was amazed by how fortunate I was to go from a complete loss of hope to a lifeline of light cast in my direction. As I moved forward, my social worker helped me to find medical help and more importantly, helped me to find a reason to continue my life. My suicidal anxiety attacks slowly began to subside, and though my life was still nightmarish, I was regaining my faith in myself and others. Though the building the clinic in was run down and depressing and I was only able to see my psychiatrist once a month, it was more than I had before, so I was grateful.
I fell from having exceptional medical care to nothing at all, and it was torturous. It opened my eyes to the fact that though it was frustrating having to constantly have appointments and tests, the fact that I could afford it all was truly a blessing that I took for granted. When I lost it, I found myself aggravated at those who were chronically ill and complained about getting spectacular medical care. I felt my anger deep in my stomach, screaming out, “shut the hell up! At least you can get medical care, I have a massive pile of disease and sickness and I have nothing to help me at all!” A tiny Hulk would often take over inside me.
When I was accepted into the mental health program and received my social worker and psychiatrist, at first I admit I was annoyed by how little they could do for me. However, I quickly reminded myself that I had lost everything, and began to feel a different sort of privilege.
To be continued…
You will feel love again, after the rain.