Wednesday was fun. About half an hour into my shift, the mild discomfort I'd been feeling announced itself as a full-blown kidney stone. I'm prone to the bastards, and apparently the one that had announced its existence a few months ago didn't so much pass as await a better opportunity. Anyone who's had these before knows it's an exquisite form of agony. Sometimes, it's only moderate torture, and you can ride it out with the proper swear words. But since I can't scream profanities at work, I decided a trip to the ER for some nice happy drugs was in order.
Now, I've been to a lot of hospitals for these stupid things. I've had to wait in the waiting room for hours before getting a doctor, and been put through the excitement of having to register before being seen. The last thing you want to do while your kidney feels like it's simultaneously imploding and exploding after being blowtorched is answer questions about your insurance. I wasn't looking forward to it.
But when I got to Evergreen Hospital's ER, a gentleman zipped out to meet me, whisked me back for a blood pressure and temp check, slapped the plastic bracelet on, and said they'd call me right back. I don't think the whole thing took more than five minutes. I had time to call my intrepid companion and alert him to the fact I'd need a ride home, and then they were ushering me right to an exam room. I'd barely gotten the gown on before a nurse was there - with bad news. They had to check for blood in ye olde urine before they'd start the good drugs. This, I thought, would take ages. But no - about fifteen minutes after producing a sample, she was back with the great good news that I did, indeed, have a stone, and it was time for the blessed relief. Wasn't her fault that just as she was putting the IV in, the damned thing passed. All that drama for naught.
The ER doc, who is one of the sweetest people I've ever met, decided we'd best ensure the little bugger wasn't just playing possum, so we waited a bit. He sent me home a little over an hour later with a prescription for the good stuff and an apology for taking so long with the discharge papers - they were horribly busy.
You never would have guessed it from the speed with which they handled my case, start to finish. That place is amazing. I wish every hospital could have an ER that functioned so smoothly. And it's one of the only hospitals I know of that sends someone in to get you registered only after you're no longer in agony.
In fact, they left me feeling so good (even without drugs, hee hee) that I went back to work for the rest of the evening.
They did a fantastic job, they've got a wonderful hospital with an exceptional staff, and they deserve recognition for the tremendous work they do. So, my dear Evergreen: thank you from the bottom of my heart (and my kidney)!
And there's another reason I'm telling you about my ridiculous little medical woes: it points up the value of good health insurance. Everyone in this country should be able to have the experience I had. When the pain hit, I didn't have to suffer. My union-negotiated health care's got me covered (theoretically, anyway). So well, in fact, that when I checked out, there wasn't even a copay.
Now, single-payer would be a fuck of a lot better - I wouldn't have had to do that frantic little do-I-or-don't-I-have-my-insurance-card-on-me check. But having good insurance is certainly the next-best thing. We're on our way to that with the Affordable Care Act. No, it's not going to be perfect at first. Yes, insurers will kick up a fuss and try to wriggle out of their obligations and in general make this as miserable as possible. Cons will try to tear the law down rather than building it up, and too many "moderate" Dems will be more than happy to help them with the wrecking ball. But if we, the sick and those who could get sick without prior notice, keep the pressure for a better health care system on, it won't just be the union members and other suck lucky folk who have good coverage. We can take this Act and build on it.
So, thanks to my union for ensuring I'm well-insured. And thanks to those who had the courage to vote for the first steps to ensuring the whole country's well-insured. That's the first skirmish won - keep fighting for more!
Finally, huge thanks to my intrepid companion, who stood by ready to drive my loopy self home if they'd had to pump me full of painkillers, and who even cleaned out his car, and let me ruin his afternoon plans, just so he could be told his services weren't necessary. Friends like that are solid gold. I can't ever express in words how much he means to me, and I suck at performance art, so a simple "Thanks, man" will just have to symbolize the whole.