Paging George Clooney – A Trip to the ER

Fri., Nov. 11, 2011: I paid a visit to the emergency room this week. Don’t worry – I wasn’t in a horrible car accident or had a stroke or something big like that. The visit was to finally have my still sore left hand attended to and x-rayed. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that a few months back I tripped on the sidewalk and went airborne and landed hard square on my left hand. It had been awhile since I had set foot in an ER. The last time was some four or five years ago when I got the mother-of-all bloody noses – a real gusher! It was extremely messy and disgusting and required having my nose cauterised.

As anyone who has made a trip to ER knows, unless you have a life-threatening emergency, a wait in the ER can be quite long. The nose bleed incident required about a five-hour stint from start to finish. Since this time I didn’t have blood oozing out of my nose and remembering the long wait in the past, I brought a couple of books, including “Blogging for Dummies” with me. As I sat in the waiting room perusing “editing and using images” and wondering if I might get sued for the pics I’ve used in the past in my blog, I assessed my fellow waiting patients. A large woman with stringy black hair had a mask over her face. A young guy with a beat up face and black eye looked like he had been in a fight. A young pretty girl with tears in her eyes and her hands crossed over her stomach was being comforted by what seemed to be her boyfriend. A fairly typical ER crowd. I progressed through all the ER processing steps, including triage where the nurse, seeing the brace on my hand, asked me who I had hit and if it had been worth it. I finally was put in a curtained-off hospital cube, where I had the longest wait, and where couldn’t help but overhear an admissions person asking each patient, do have an insurance? Not can I see your insurance card, but do you have insurance?

I’ve been living on borrowed time. During my long two-year stint of unemployment, I have been without health insurance! Now I am no young spring chicken any more, so it’s a risky game to not have insurance, however until my unfortunate tumble it hadn’t been an issue. The very instant after I fell, the first thing I thought was “I don’t have any insurance.” As I winced in pain, I said just that to the friend who was with me. Instead of stars, I saw dollar signs and debt collectors swimming in my head!

Many of the unemployed are without health insurance, but it’s not just limited to this select group. Working Americans also are without insurance, because they simply cannot afford it if their employer doesn’t provide it. Nearly 50 million people in the U.S. are without health insurance or about 16 percent of the population, an increase of three percent from some 10 years ago. That is a huge number, and I had no idea it was that high until I began writing this blog. Small companies are often not able to offer insurance to their workers, also because of the high cost. And with health care costs continually on the rise, even if you have insurance, medical bills can add up. Some years back, when I had what I thought was decent medical insurance, I was hospitalized and was astounded by the number of bills I received and the high sum total! Simply put the medical system in this country is messed up and is need of a serious fix!

So what’s the verdict on the wrist? The x-rays came back clean – no fractures or little cracks! This is a particularly good thing, because the ER doc (who was quite George Clooney handsome in his own right!) said if it had been fractured, after this long it would likely need corrective surgery. The cute doc also said ibuprofen was best for pain and would rather not prescribe anything more potent as they can be addictive. Good for you responsible doc. Too many dole out painkillers like candy!

As I wrap up typing this blog, my wrist is starting to ache again. The ER doc recommended physical therapy, however with my financial situation that is not likely to happen any time soon!

Lisa, Talented and Somewhat Temporarily Handicapped, Job Seeker

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