By: Julie C., Escambia County
In 2006 I was in an automobile accident and diagnosed with whiplash. I was treated at the hospital and sent home. I went to a primary care doctor who treated me for about six months. During my treatment the doctor said that I was fine, so I signed the legal paperwork to settle my case. The pain was still pretty extreme, so the doctor did an MRI. Turns out my neck had actually been broken and fused itself back together. The doctor said that since it had fused back together my neck would be fine, though I’d probably eventually have a little arthritis. In 2010 I started having really bad pain in my neck. I treated it with over the counter pain medications like Aleve and Tylenol. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with chronic migraines and fibromyalgia.
I had Medicaid for insurance when my daughter was younger. When she turned 18, I lost my health insurance, although her insurance h
as continued. I’m thankful that her Medicaid continued. She is disabled and will be disabled for the rest of her life. She has nurses that care for her, and I care for her as well. She depends on me, so I must be well for her. When Obamacare first came out, I qualified and paid $125 a month. That got to be too expensive after a while and I had to let it go. Last time I applied the cost was $400 a month. There is no way I could afford that.
Since then I have also suffered from arthritis all over my body, not just my neck. When my pain gets really bad, I go to the Emergency Room, but on my worst days I can’t even drive myself to the hospital. Sometimes I can’t speak. The sun bothers me. Noises are painful. And trust me, doctors and nurses are not nice to you when you show up at the hospital like that. They are very rude. It’s crazy because some doctors don’t take fibromyalgia seriously. They send you to therapists because they think you are crazy. The therapists just send you right back to the doctor, so it’s a vicious cycle.
My health makes it very difficult for me to work. When I was able, I worked over 60 hours a week. I had a really good reputation in my industry. I was always on time. I worked overtime when it was needed. Now I can’t hold out for a 40 hour a week or even a 20 hour a week job. Not being able to work affects your family life. I’ve applied and been denied for social security disability. I wanted to continue working but it’s literally hard to get out of bed. Being sick has affected every aspect of my life.
There are some medications that help ease my pain. But even when I had insurance the insurance would not cover the cost of the medications. Doctors often try to prescribe narcotics or opioids, but I don’t let them give me anything like that. I tell them – I can’t be knocked out. I have a handicapped child. I have to be functional.
I believe that whether you’re broke and poor or super rich you should be able to get care and compassion from a doctor. I’ve been in both situations and I see the difference. When you can’t afford health insurance you’re not treated well. Everybody deserves a chance to see a doctor without it breaking them. I’m hopeful that maybe the next generation will do it better than we have.