February 21, 2010

365 Project: Day 105

I have never been so miserable in my life as I have been for the past five days. I spent these last 5 gorgeous, spring-like days in bed, sick with what I've been referring to as death. Sore throat, fever, cough, sinus pressure, runny nose, stopped up ears...misery.  

Today I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I actually got out of bed, put on clothes that I would wear in public, and tried to convince myself that I was all better. I am the worst sick person ever. I don't get sick often, but when I do it usually takes me down for a good week. That's probably due to my schedule, lack of sleep, stress level, exhaustion, and over all workaholic lifestyle. I don't take care of myself like I should and it usually takes a pretty good virus to force me to slow down a little. I can't help it. Its just not in my nature to slow down. I simply don't know the meaning of "taking it easy". I actually tried to get out of bed and work (unsuccessfully) several times over the last five days, only to find myself crawling back into bed, defeated.

The over the counter pills I had been taking were making me really groggy and foggy-headed, so, on Friday I decided to go out and find some different medicine to relieve my symptoms.  While at the store, I stood in a daze for a good 15 minutes in the cold medicine aisle trying to make a decision. When I finally chose something and headed over to the self checkout line, obviously sick and miserable, holding my one item, I was cut off by an incredibly inconsiderate woman with a basket FULL of stuff. Instead of letting me go ahead of her she started scanning items as quickly as she could, as if her efforts to hurry were going to make me any less pissed at this point. That's when she broke the thing! I couldn't believe it! Now we were just both standing there. I'm sure she could feel me staring a hole in the back of her head. I switched lanes, only to find a woman with a sale item that wouldn't scan. The other two self checkout lanes were broken and all the regular lanes were packed with people who had baskets full of stuff. I seriously wanted to scream, but I wasn't going to leave without this cold medicine. So, I waited. 

When I finally got home, I took the recommended dosage and started answering a few emails. I barely got through one email when I started feeling overwhelmingly drowsy. I had to lay down. I got into bed to rest for a minute. Next thing I know, 3 1/2 hours later, my sister came into my room and woke me up. I was completely passed out. She was going out for a little while, but asked me if I was doing ok. I was in a daze and still half asleep and I said I was fine so she left. That's when I got out of bed and started walking around the house totally out of it. I was disoriented, lightheaded, and tingly all over. It was like my entire body had fallen asleep. About 10 minutes later I decided that I needed to go to the hospital and called her to come back and get me. 

Let me start this part off by saying I don't have health insurance. I needed to go to Urgent Care instead of the Emergency Room. Even if I were dying, I simply can't afford the ER. We couldn't find an Urgent Care location that was still open at 8pm so I had no choice but to go to the nearest ER. When we got there the waiting room really scared me. I don't know if this was my perception due to my state of mind or if this was how it really was, but it scared me. It looked so dirty. It was earth toned, dimly lit and completely packed with miserable looking people who had probably been there for hours. Sick people, injured people, people with IVs. It was scary. 

When we got up to the counter I was so out of it that I couldn't even really form a sentence to tell the man what was wrong with me. Thank God my sister was there. She asked if there was an Urgent Care that was open: no, there wasn't. She asked if there was financial aid available: there was, but I'd have to fill out all sorts of forms and meet with a counselor and then, MAYBE, if I qualified, they could help me.  I couldn't even see straight at this point, there was no way I could go through all that. I sort of started to panic. I really just wanted to cry. Was I really going to be forced to make the decision between my health, possibly my life and money? REALLY? I felt like there was nowhere to go to get the help I needed. In my disoriented state I had to decide: Was I dying? Did I REALLY need to see a doctor? How bad off was I? I decided to go just forget the ER and go home keeping my fingers crossed that I was making the right decision. I started thinking on the drive home, was I going to become one of those cautionary tales about taking over the counter medication? One of those people who has a bad reaction to some common medication and suffers permanent damage to my health, my body, or worse, dies from it? All because I was afraid of the cost of healthcare. This was the scariest decision I've had to make for myself. A person should NEVER have to make this sort of decision. 

When it came down to it, I was more scared of being in debt to the hospital than possibly dying. What is wrong with this picture? This is outrageous! But, its true. At that moment I knew I didn't have the money to get the medical help I needed and it really upset me. I went home, ate a full meal, drank as much water as I could and laid down, hoping that would be enough to flush this medication out of my system. Several hours later, I started feeling a little better. Thank God. I'm lucky that my reaction to this medication wasn't worse. What would I have done then?

Today, I'm so glad that I'm feeling better. So, I went outside for a minute to enjoy a little sunshine.

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