Last Sunday, I hobbled my way to a "Save Our Healthcare" rally in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Since mid-November, I have been battling strep throat. After a torturous weekend with my in-laws in Chicago, I went to the walk-in clinic back home and got diagnosed. Not only would this save me money, but I wasn't sure which Chicago hospitals would even take my insurance. I got some steroids and some penicillin and got on the road to recovery.
Not long after I finished the penicillin, I noticed I still wasn't feeling 100%: still fatigued, still battling sore throat, ear, and nose. But, I told myself, I didn't want to risk spending all that money on a doctor's visit. I could gut it out, I said, but a month after my first walk-in visit I went in again and got another dose of antibiotics. During this visit, I asked the walk-in staffer about a rash that had recently shown up on my ankle, and I was told not to worry about it. The second round of antibiotics seemed to finally beat the strep... but by then it was only the beginning.
The rash got worse, bigger, and began to scab over into gray blotches. In desperation, I finally bit the bullet and called the hospital proper. On a day where the terrible, icy weather caused many cancellations, I was able to slip/slide my way to a Dermatologist. After two minutes of examination, he informed me that the rash was a result of the strep slowly making its way out, inflaming my capillaries as it went. This means, possibly for the next four months, I will have this painful rash on my ankle that impairs my walking. On that Sunday, a 31-year-old man hobbled onto an icy sidewalk at a park in La Crosse, walking with the aid of a cane, and all because he tried to save money and gut out a strep diagnosis that eventually got the better of him.
I should have gotten it checked out earlier. I shouldn't have tried to beat it myself. I'm not destitute: I can pay my hospital bills well enough, and I have decent insurance through my wife's work. But I'm not rich enough to where there isn't always that lingering specter warning me to avoid the hospital as much as possible, to try to save every penny in this psychocapitalist system because you never know what's waiting to take it all away. I should have, but I didn't: just another story from America's broken healthcare system.
We are an international embarrassment. We are the only developed nation that does not provide healthcare for our citizens, no questions asked. We are the richest country the world has ever seen, and yet we cannot ask the richest of us to pay a few percentage points off of their billions so I don't have to cut back on eating meat if my kid gets sick? If we want to say we're exceptional, and advanced, and the best country on the earth, then we'd better damn well start acting like it.
Every person. Every time. Every option for care.
Single payer. No exceptions.
Thank you for your time,
Eric M. Leitzen