I wanted to just thank from the bottom of my heart all who expressed their sympathy over my recent hospital bill situation. And thanks so much to those who donated as well.
I'm really touched by the support. Donations reached almost $300, which makes paying the lump sum of $500 by my deadline today much easier.
After that, I will have to pay about $100 for the next 14 months. But being smart with my finances and cutting some corners should help with that.
But thank you so much again. You are very fine people.
Originally, this bill was over $14,000. At that time, things looked very bleak. I was in a lot of self-denial. I was in self-denial about how close I came to dying, too. I was in self-denial about that until like eight months ago. At Beth Israel Medical Center, they marveled at how calm and good natured I was through the whole situation, how polite I was to the nurses. But I was calm largely because I was in complete self-denial. It's a survival mechanism.
But there was one moment I almost lost it, when they brought me my dinner. Dinner was like a stale danish and orange juice. I had almost bled to death, the nurses told me I had a dangerously low amount of blood in my system that could lead to a bunch of things including cardiac arrest. And they brought me a stale danish.
I screamed: "GET ME A CHICKEN SALAD!!!!!!!!"
And they said, that's only in the visitor's cafeteria. And I made them go to there and get me a fucking chicken salad with eggs. And I'm sure, if I look over my itemized bill again, I'll see the chicken salad.
Though my blood pressure was so low at one point that the nurses freaked out and started running all over the receiving room where my bed was (I didn't have a proper room until the last four hours of my stay), the doctors held back from giving me a blood transfusion. At one point a nurse fought with a doctor and said I was in danger of dying unless I got the transfusion. But they wouldn't give it to me. When I limped into a medical office a few days later -- still white as a sheet, out of breath, and only able to move very slowly because of the lack of blood in my system -- my doctor was horrified that nobody gave me a blood transfusion.
And really, I think at least part of the reason they didn't give it to me because I had no insurance, and they figured it'd be just another cost I was likely to not pay. Why waste blood on the uninsured? It might be the same reason I had to recuperate after surgery in a crowded receiving room with questionable hygiene. And that might be part of the reason why I acquired a massive infection that cost me hundreds of dollars and three months of hell to fight.
But those bills -- and their collection agents -- certainly arrived soon enough. They wouldn't knock any money off the charges for the infection I got through surgery -- but they charged me literally for every bandage I used to stop the bleeding. I remember asking for another bandage, and being warned that I would be charged for it. But the nurse felt sorry for me and said she would look the other way and give me a bandage for free. I wish this was an exaggeration. And so what, I decide to save myself the 8 or 15 dollars for the bandage (essentially, a glorified maxipad) and just bleed all over the bed? Is it like being fed a stale danish after massive blood loss? Why are these considered *options?*
I think our health care situation in the US is largely corrupt and dysfunctional. I think it puts undue pressure on people who are experiencing or recovering from serious illness. I think it makes the uninsured far more likely to not recover. I think it makes the hospitals, whether they are or are not conscious of it, far less likely to give good care to the uninsured. I think it makes people in corporate jobs far more likely to put up with bad practices and not speak up, because they are afraid of losing their jobs and hence their medical insurance. And from my own experience I've watched medical insurers fight tooth-and-nail against paying out the insurance anyway.
Learning preventative health care and voting out those who are against universal health care are great first steps. But also, I think there needs to be a constant outcry over these medical nightmares. What happened to me sounds bad, but the crucial thing is that I lived and I need no further medical treatment in order to deal with the injury (though there is some debate as to how much damage the long-term infection from the surgery caused, and if I ever find out it has hurt my reproductive system I'm going to sue them for every penny they have -- and they aren't the only parties who are going to get sued). So even if the hospital cleans me out financially, I can't die from lack of treatment; the only way I can be hurt is in my pocket.
But there are plenty of people out there who need life-saving treatment and cannot get it because they are uninsured. Whose quality-of-life is severely impacted. Who, at the same time they are suffering or even dying, are getting harassed by bill collectors and turning time they need to heal into a time of anxiety and pain.
We can't pat our backs in this country and say "God Bless America" and have this go on. It's not the hallmark of a civilized society. We have tall buildings, 3000 cable channels, and a system that does not adequately take care of the health of all its citizens. Massive FAIL.