A month ago, I found a large bump on my clavicle. Did it freak me out? Yes. Did I immediately begin searching the Internet for everything I could find? Yes. Did the Internet help alleviate any anxiety? NO. I was convinced I had bone cancer. (I don’t. I’m fine.)Did I call my doctor and schedule an appointment? No.
Because I don’t have insurance. I teach three classes at the college level and narrate audio books. On a good week, I work about 50 hours. On a bad week, it’s closer to 60 hours. When I’m home, I’m grading papers, prepping for the next class, and reading the next manuscript. But I’m not insured because I’m not considered full-time at the university (a common problem for adjuncts) and I’m a freelance narrator.
So it’s kinda funny that the doctor felt my clavicles and then had me feel HIS clavicles and said: “Welcome to your body. You’re fine. You’re just asymmetrical.” (I know I have a blog about being off-center and something else weird with me. I just can’t remember what.)
Then he asked me if I was stressed and I started crying.
Stressed. ME? WHAT? YES I’M FUCKING STRESSED!!! I said quietly, “Maybe a little.”
So I was having a prolonged panic attack. I’ve had them before, but this one felt like my throat was closing off, my chest hurt and I was convinced cancer cells were streaming through my body. (I’m actually still feeling like this, except without the cancer cells. I feel like I can’t breathe and my whole body is thrumming. Not in a good way.)
But what if something HAD been wrong? I waited a whole month to call the doctor. I’ve had a month of constant anxiety and stress because I didn’t want to spend the money to go to the doctor. Either it’d be nothing, and I’d waste a couple hundred dollars; or I’d have cancer and I wouldn’t be able to pay for treatment and it’d send us directly into poverty. If’ I had insurance, I’d have called right away, alleviated my worry OR if I needed treatment for something, I’d get treatment instead of waiting and making the problem worse.
It’s a ridiculous system. I’m glad, of course, it turned out to be nothing, but now I have that constant anxiety of what if I do get sick? Like, when I broke my foot, if I didn’t have insurance, I’d have spent $5K. It’s just another thing to worry about along with work stresses and weight stresses and writing stresses and just plain LIFE stresses.
The doctors’ appointment wasn’t a total loss. I now have a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication so I can stop eating ice cream. He said I could do a few things to rush my body with endorphins to counterattack the high level of cortisol surging through me. I could take a pill, or run until I pass out, or get in a fight. I said, “Hmmm. Maybe I’ll take the Ativan.” (He didn’t mention ice cream.)
The doctors’ visit cost me $190, and the prescription will probably cost a hundred dollars, which will stress me out more, but hey. At least it’s not a tumor. I’m just asymmetrical. Literally. And apparently, spiritually too.