Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Letter to a Disgruntled Client

You're incensed that you had to pay $60 for a $75 one-hour massage. "Your website said that you'd bill insurance. Why didn't you bill my insurance? Why haven't I been reimbursed for the sixty bucks?"

Sympathetic to your fiscal plight in the beginning, I reassured you that we'd find someway to stick your insurance company with the bill. But I've been mulling it over, and thanks to the persepective my seething crimson rage affords me, I'm not as sympathetic anymore.

One gets the impression that you paid good money for a service that citizens in more developed countries are entitled to free of charge. You act as if you'd been taken, stuck with the short end of the deal in some scurrilous, black market transaction. You're behaving as if our act of receiving the 60 dollars in exchange for providing you a massage, was in someway untoward.

You've ranted, and I've listened to your sob story. Now you listen to mine.

I haven't had health insurance for the last two years. I pay out of pocket for my medication, and for annual check-ups to refill those medications. I have to take them; it's not penny candy.

In October of 2003, doubled-over in agony, I went to the emergency room with what turned out to be kidney stones. That was the doctor's best guess, anyway, after ruling out infection and ectopic pregnancy. I couldn't afford an X-ray to see how many stones were camping out in my kidney, or if there were any at all. Because I didn't have insurance, there was no way I could afford any kind of surgery or soundwave therapy.

I arrived at the ER at midnight and left between 5 and 5:30 in the morning. My souvenir for having waited five hours for an inconclusive diagnosis and no treatment whatsoever was a paint strainer. "Drink lots of water and pee into this."

That's it. No Vicadin or Demerol or Lortab. I had to look up pain management advice on the internet.

For this, I paid $1,000. One thousand of my hard-earned dollars. That thou could have paid bills for 3 months. That's money I use for my prescriptions. That's money I buy groceries with, and gas, and stamps, and presents and cards for birthdays and Christmas. That's a thousand dollars that wouldn't be replaced. I didn't have a job. That's a lot of money to go out, knowing that it wouldn't be coming back in.

I'm not the kind of person who runs to emergency or the doctor's office at every little twinge. I don't like going to the doctor, and my experiences in emergency have left me with an association tainted with all manner of pain, torture and neglect. That I opted to to seek help that night, knowing that I'd be paying out of pocket for everything, might tell you something about how much pain I was in.

Excruciating doesn't even touch it. I've read that passing a kidney stone hurts worse than being burned. It's worse, some say, than being stabbed or shot. Other's say it's even worse than hard labor. In a nutshell, people who've passed a stone swear that it's the worst pain they've ever endured. And it is. I was in so much agony by the second day, after the ER visit, that if there were a gun in the house, I would have stuck it in my mouth. I'm not kidding. I'm not exaggerating. I would have shot myself in the leg first, just to see if the kidney stone really hurt worse. But had there been a gun available, I would not have hesitated to use it to self-medicate.

So, my dear disgruntled patron of the healing arts, don't piss and moan about having had to fork out a measly 60 bucks to have a licensed professional rub your naked body with fragrant oils in a womblike sanctuary-- a quiet, dimly lit room that meets Feng Shui code.

Don't be such a bellyaching, whining asshole. I hope you have to pass a stone someday. Then you'll realize what exactly your generous insurance policy is for. When you're vomiting and writhing and begging for help at the triage station, you'll actually get it. Instead of the e-collar I was sent home with to keep me from biting, you'll get a definitive diagnosis, a treatment plan, a referral to a renal specialist and a prescription for industrial strength pain killers, so that you won't have to self medicate with whatever combination of Tylenol and Nyquil you can manage to swallow and keep down.

You madam, are an ungrateful bitch. And now everyone that reads this knows about your small life and inflated expectations.




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