Friday, August 03, 2007

Sick on the Road

When I picked up the phone and heard my daughter’s sobbing voice, I knew something was very wrong. She and a friend are driving cross-country en route to San Francisco, currently in beautiful rural Wisconsin. We are about to find out how the uninsured deal with healthcare costs.

She came home last Friday to get ready for the big trip. She mentioned on Sunday that her back was hurting, but she is in great shape and we all just assumed it was muscle fatigue from sitting in the car for 11 hours on Friday. Of course I worried it was from lifting Dylan into the bathtub, into the car for his final trip to the vet’s.

It was still bothering her as they took off on Wednesday. They reached Chicago, where they had a long visit with 98-year-old Aunt Zelda. She confided in me that the back problem had not gone away but they headed on to a camp site in Wisconsin last night.

When she called this morning, she was obviously scared and worried. She said she had shaken uncontrollably for at least a half hour last night as they slept in their $30 tent from Target. She was worried about the cost of going to a doctor.

I assured her that money was not an issue, that we would pay whatever it cost. I told her to ask the locals to recommend a hospital where she could just go to the emergency room.

Then I called my friend and doctor Deborah. I could just see her mind working on a long-distance diagnosis:

Lower back pain?
Uncontrollable shaking?

She probably has a urinary tract infection. She should make sure they check her urine in the ER. It will not be difficult to treat.

I relayed the information to my daughter as she was sitting in the ER waiting room. She said that she had been experiencing pain when urinating and seemed greatly relieved to connect that to her back pain.

Hopefully she will be back on the road with an Rx to fix her problem as they head west toward the Bad Lands for more camping and hiking.

As a parent you never forget how to worry. I’m so grateful for a friend on call who could ease all of our worries just a little today. Of course I will be happy when the problem is completely under control, but I think she’s going to be alright.

12 Comments:

Blogger Kristin said...

It's good that she's having it addressed now rather than later. It could get so much worse! There's something to be said for insurance.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

As an update to this post, I just talked to my daughter who sounded greatly relieved to get a URI diagnosis from the small town ER doctor in Wisconsin. She has a prescription for antiobiotics and should be completely better in a couple of days. Unfortunately Deborah doesn't get paid for this diagnosis, but instead gets to enjoy my company for music and dinner.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I hope your daughter feels better soon.

Universal healthcare in Canada is not quite so universal. If you are in a different province, you are required to pay for the consult and then get the money back from your own province.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Fristin, Richard -- There will be no getting money back at all. The bill for this ER visit is being sent to us since our daughter currently has NO HEALTH INSURANCE, having quit her job last month. You can walk into any hospital in this country and get treatment if you are willing to pay for it!

Any guesses as to what the URI diagnosis will cost? I'm betting around $300.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Sorry for murdering your name in the previous comment...

1:22 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I hope she's okay by now even. I've never heard of shaking related to urinary infection. Good thing you have Deborah.
The cost of health care down there is so high. I think we have a pretty good social plan here.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Hope she improves quickly. Cranberry juice!! Make her drink cranberry juice.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Ah, no worries on the name. :) I caught that you'd be out of pocket on this one but it's still better to catch it early.

I just meant that there is something to be said for health insurance. It's a hard pill to swallow sometimes, if an employer (or parent) isn't covering it, but having been uninsured once and covering my own surgery to have cancerous cells removed, I'd think twice about going without.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- Too bad she wasn't a little further north and she could have experienced national health care. Would they treat "foreigners"?

Reya -- I passed along the cranberry juice suggestion.

Kristin -- It's experiences like this that make us realize the importance of health insurance. But you are right -- treating any infection agressively early on is a good idea!

10:39 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

There are, thankfully, hospital ERs that treat patients who have no insurance. In the years I had none, I was treated for free at my local hospital. Of course, I had to be a resident of this state and had to prove negligible income but if the hospital had had no such policy I would have had to go without medical care altogether. In just the past year, the state made medical insurance manditory.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- What does that mean "the state made medical insurance mandatory"? EVERYONE must have it or to use an ER you must have it? It would seems hard to make something that costs money mandatory.

Wait till you hear part 2 of this saga, which I will write after I come home from Shabbat services this morning. Life on the road has not gotten any easier for my youngest child...

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using a hospital emergency room as a drop in clinic contributes to the high cost of medical care in this country. Going to an Urgent Care clinic is usually much less expensive, often quicker. I have received, at a reasonalbe cost, good care while traveling. Until she purchases insurance, your daughter might want to keep this in mind for future medical care.

8:22 AM  

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