Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dimes Over Death

Two Novembers ago I had a panic attack. As I was getting my hair retwisted in Newark, the loctician asked me how my life was going. While reviewing my year, my chest was overcome with excruciating pain, making it extremely difficult to breath. A sharp pain shot down my back and my stomach felt as though it was being ripped open from the inside. As I felt like I was going to pass out, my loctician asked me if I was okay. After doubling over in pain, I thought about my next move.

"Do you want me to call an ambulance?" he asked.

I declined. After calling my parents, I took a two bus, hour and a half ride to the clinic in West Orange. By the time I got there, my chest still hurt but I was feeling much better. I got a check-up and an EKG. Everything seemed pretty normal. I was sent off with a prescription -which I never redeemed- as well as a warning not to stress so much and lay off the Cuban Pete's (employment at the time).

At 22 years old, I learned the idiotic, bitter reality that sometimes you have to make a decision between your health and your wallet. In theory, your health should be more important but when you think about it, a broke college student with no insurance going to the hospital can only end badly. I know I'm not alone in this convoluted decision-making process. According to a 2003 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities study, 45 million people do not have health insurance. Most college students and grads -to which I am acquainted- do not have insurance.

Considering how many doctors over-prescribe and the current generations are in what I consider the Addiction Era, I can't tell if less people going to the doctor will be for the better or worse. Maybe as a result more people will look into holistic medicine and religion? Just a thought.

I highly anticipate the day I receive insurance. Until then I will fear hospitals. The institution, known as the modern hospital, used to be a source of relief for those in serious need of help. When it was first built, I could imagine it as a beacon of hope for those who wished to no longer rely on primitive healing methods. Now, like the police, it has become an object of fear and corruption. Rather than a vast storage of knowledge and medicine, I now see it as numbers, $40 aspirins, horrible credit and ruined lives.


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