First of all, this post has a soundtrack. Enjoy:
Okay, so bills.
In case you didn’t know, getting sick in America is expensive. The bills are starting to roll in, and I’m starting to realize why medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country.
When I passed out in the MRI prep room a thousand years ago (read: last month), an ambulance had to come and pick me up to drive me literally across a parking lot to the trauma bay of the main hospital. I just got the bill for that. It was $1,360.
My ambulance ride cost me roughly $700 per minute. Good God, at least they could have taken me in a limo! I should have been poppin’ Cristal in a hot tub in the back of the thing for that price.
There are bills for emergency services, surgical fees, pathology reports, prescription medications ranging from fertility drugs to anti-anxiety pills to opiate painkillers, consultations and other medical miscellany, already totaling into the tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, insurance covers most of that. I almost feel bad for my insurance company. I can see the insurance agent taking a look at my file back in 2006 or so, when my parents got this insurance and had me, a penniless student, added onto their plan. An 18-year-old girl with no family history of anything as mild as plantar warts, let alone heart disease or cancer? He probably thought to himself, wielding his rubber stamp above my paperwork. She doesn’t smoke, barely drinks and exercises every day? Approved!
Sorry, insurance agent buddy. I didn’t see it coming, either.
I know that this going to sound odd, but it is unbelievably lucky that cancer caught me at exactly the time in my life that it did. My treatments will conclude in July or August, but I won’t get kicked off of my parents’ insurance plan until October, when I turn 26. Thanks to my incredible family and some recent policy changes in the government (thank you, President Obama, you saved my ass), I won’t be saddled with thousands of dollars in medical bills at a time when I’m just starting out in life and barely able to scrape together the funds to support my sushi addiction, and I won’t become uninsurable for the rest of my life thanks to my recently checkered medical history. I had to quit my part-time job, but I’ve been able to stay in school, and I’m still on track to graduate in May and start working by the end of the summer, just like all my classmates.
Many, many moons ago (read: last month), my surgeon said to me: “You’re going to have a really, really shitty six months. But that’s it. After that, you’ll be done, and you can move on with your life, and if we do our jobs right and you’re in the 90 percent of patients that we think you’re in, you’ll never have to think of this again.”
I laughed, and he added, “Seriously though, those six months are going to be shitty.”
One month down, five to go.
And while it’s been punctuated by shitty moments – an eight-hour permanently body-deforming surgery there, some hormone-induced sobbing at CBS Sunday Morning here – I have to say that I think he exaggerated. Most of the time, I still worry about all the same dumb stuff I worried about before. I’m still happy when I get to sit at the coffee shop, drinking a cappuccino and eating a scone. I still love Netflix and relaxing with a good book and working on my school projects with my friends. The motivational speaker Tony Robbins said recently that everything that happens in our lives is colored by our own personalities – that angry people will find a way to be angry, sad people will find a way to be sad, and happy people will find a way to be happy, no matter what.
All I know is, sitting here with some tea and a chocolate chip muffin, I like to think I’m a happy person.