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a short story by Wolf Larsen
The pains in his lower abdomen area had been going on for months when Mark decided he finally had to do something. The pains just kept getting worse and worse. But there was a problem: he had no medical insurance and he only made $10 an hour.
Mark started making phone calls to doctors’ offices. He quickly realized he could not afford to see a doctor.
So on his day off from work Mark went to the public hospital, or the big public clinic or whatever. As he got off the bus and made his way to the big public hospital/clinic building he dreaded this. He was filled with dread, dread, dread, dread, and more dread! He had heard nightmares about the public hospital/clinic from the time he was a little kid. This was like the last place in the world he wanted to go. Never had he imagined himself going to a public hospital/clinic, but what could he do?
He waited in a line. Then he got to talk to some woman at a desk. And she told him where to go. To the big clinic next door.
When Mark walked into the clinic next door he stopped in surprise. The waiting room of the clinic was FILLED with HUNDREDS of people! Hundreds & hundreds of people. White, black, brown, yellow, red, man, woman, young, old – there were hordes of people waiting there!
Mark went to a desk. The first thing they did was take his blood pressure. Normal. It had been normal his entire life. Mark told the guy behind the desk his problem. Stomach pains. Endless stomach pains. In the lower stomach area. They gave him a number. And he sat amongst the hundreds & hundreds of people waiting for medical care.
Next to him two people were talking.
"Man, I've been waiting here for three hours!" one of them said.
"I've been waiting here for almost 5 hours," said the other. His voice was kind of faint.
"How do we get medical care?" blurted out the first one in frustration.
"I don't know," said the second one softly.
"Damn, I wish I had medical insurance, but I can’t afford it, I used to have medical insurance, but they didn't pay for a lot of my medical bills anyway," said the first one sounding angry.
The second guy said nothing. He didn't look too good. Who knows what was wrong with him?
Mark waited nearly 6 hours before his number finally got called. He was taken to a room where he got to speak to an intern. She introduced herself as the "doctor" but Mark could sense she was an intern. The intern asked Mark some questions, examined him, and then she told Mark she didn't know what was wrong with him.
She thought maybe he should see a specialist. However, there were no openings to see the specialist for nearly 4 months. And anyway, she couldn't make an appointment from her computer. Because the program wouldn't let her.
"What do I have to do to see a specialist?" asked Mark.
The intern said, "It has to be emergency. If it's an emergency then I can put you in the system for an appointment with the specialist."
"And then in the event of an emergency I could see the specialist right away?" asked Mark.
"No," said the intern. "Then you could get the next available appointment for the specialist, which would be nearly 4 months."
Mark explained to the intern that the pain had been going on for a long time and was getting worse.
"There's nothing I can do for you. Sorry," said the intern.
The next day Mark called up various clinics and medical centers and told them he needed to see a such-&-such kind of specialist. Their first question always was "What kind of insurance do you have?" They asked him that before they asked him his symptoms. When they found out he didn't have medical insurance it seemed like they didn't want anything more to do with him. But he would ask how much to see the specialist anyway. The price for the first visit: over $400. He called one medical center after another. The price was always the same: over $400. Finally he found one that was less than $200. But he still couldn't afford that.
Meanwhile, the pains in Mark's lower stomach area kept getting worse and worse. He kept going to the big public clinic on his days off from work, and he was becoming increasingly frustrated. For the first time in his life Mark now had high blood pressure. The clinic gave Mark free medication for his "high blood pressure condition." Mark tried to explain that the frustration with the hospital was what was giving him high blood pressure, that he had never had high blood pressure before in his life, and could they please find out what was wrong with him, could they please find out what was causing all the pain in his lower abdomen, but everybody working at the big public clinic said there was nothing they could do for him and told him to take his blood pressure medications.
Then Mark began finding blood in his stool. He looked up his symptoms on the Internet and discovered he might be suffering from any one of a dozen things, including cancer. He went back to the clinic and after waiting six hours he explained that now there was blood in his stool. Still, they would not give him an appointment with a specialist.
So Mark went to the cheapest specialist he could find at the cheapest medical center he could find and they did some tests and within a few weeks he found out that the problem was seeds. The seeds in the fruits and vegetables that he was eating was causing the problem. Apparently, the seeds were getting stuck in his colon. The total bill was about $3,000. It took Mark most of a year to pay it off.
Mark now made sure didn't eat anything with seeds in it. If he couldn't get the seeds out he just didn't eat it. Soon the lower abdomen pain went away. The blood in his stool when away too. His high blood pressure went away by itself without the medication.
Mark was happy that his medical problem was only seeds. If it had been something more serious the medical bills would've been so high Mark would've been forced into bankruptcy.
Copyright 2012 by Wolf Larsen
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