In most ways, health-wise, I’ve been very lucky. I get really sick, like the flu, about once a year at most. Aside from the odd minor cold, I don’t have much to complain about.
It hasn’t always been that way. When I was a teen, I had Graves’ disease, or hyperthyroidism. It puts a big strain on the body by jacking up all your hormones. I had my first panic attacks while I was sick with Graves’. I don’t know if I can truly trace my anxiety disorder and depression back to it (not sure I was ever the picture of mental health, even as a kid), but it’s possible. I also have a slightly-enlarged heart muscle that’s probably a result of it.
The upshot of it is that I have to take Synthroid every day to replace the thyroid hormone I no longer have. I also have to take meds for my anxiety and depression. And I have to worry about any other systems that might’ve been affected. All of this means I really should be getting regular health screenings.
I can’t. I don’t have insurance, and my job doesn’t pay well enough for me to buy it. I can’t get the health screenings I should. My last mammogram was in 2009. I had to borrow money to see a doctor to get my prescriptions renewed. I can’t get the ear that’s bothering me checked out. If I develop more serious symptoms, I either borrow money or hope it gets better. I’m doing what I can to stay healthy, but there are things I don’t have control over.
Problem is, if I can’t get health screenings, little problems could turn into big ones. My lack of insurance now could end up killing me. That’s a real fear of mine–that I have something, even now, that could end my life, and I don’t even know. Something that’s treatable now and won’t be later. Something that’ll end up costing my family money, because they’ll want to help.
I know universal health care isn’t popular among my set, but people like me need an alternative. What’s the right to life worth if you can’t protect it? I hear lots of noise about shiftless people and drags on society and entitlement, but that’s not me. It’s not a lot of people who are unemployed or underemployed. And it’s not a lot of people who have been utterly wiped out by medical bills.
So, what’s the answer? I don’t know. I don’t pretend to. I just know I’m scared, and I have every reason to be.