Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dying: A Daily Reminder


This is the view from my front door. The hospital across the street has recently placed a three-story banner advertising "24 Hour Emergency Care" on the wall that faces me- it is set into a recessed space on the building, so that the only people who can see it are pedestrians, myself and my immediate neighbors. They have also moved the ambulance waiting zone-  now there is always an idling ambulance directly outside my window...I am quickly reaching the point where I can identify the ambulance's  number merely by the sound of the engine.

Number 68 (pictured above) is in dire need of a tune-up. I was trying to talk to a friend on my phone this afternoon and gave up in frustration because the engine was so loud...the noise reflects off the giant brick wall and bounces straight into my open windows, 24 hours a day...the constant roar is punctuated by the occasional wailing siren, a sound that heralds a few minutes of relative quiet until the next ambulance takes it place in the queue.

Anyway, that banner  reminds me -every single time that I open the door- of  my own medical history:

One night just over four years ago, I started vomiting blood. Not little streaks or tiny drops of blood, but great bilious, metallic mouthfuls of the stuff, along with tiny fleshy pieces of my  liquor-rotted innards.

It was black and foul and I knew I was going to die...but I had been to the ER across the street already that year (I got drunk and fell down, hard- it took 6 hours before I was seen) and owed them a small fortune - I suspected that I would bleed to death while they scrutinized my financial records, so I dragged myself into my old Honda  and drove myself across town to a hospital that I didn't owe money to...it turned out that I made it to their ER with very little time to spare.

 It's quite likely that I would have died in the waiting room if I had chosen to simply crawl across the street to the local ER- so seeing that giant banner is much like being slapped across the face by Death's cold, clammy hand every single day. I could probably pay for 5 years of routine medical care with the money  the hospital spent on that banner , much less all the fuel being consumed by the ever-present idling engines...I understand the need for a stand-by vehicle, but they used to have an internal parking  bay for that. For reasons unknown to me, that bay is no longer used and the street is the new waiting-zone. I feel like the protagonist in Poe's Tell-Tale Heart...True!

"When You Need It, Where You Need It"...that's false. I doubt that I could see a physician at that hospital if my life depended on it- literally. That's a pretty sad commentary on the state of our national 'wealth-care system'...if you have wealth, you have care. If you don't...well, that's just tough luck.

Don't get sick. Ever.

4 comments:

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I'm just worried that if i do get sick and need medical attention that my medicare/medicaid will still be worth a fuck...

secret agent woman said...

No hospital needs an idling vehicle, that's just absurd.

But yeah, I try hard to avoid getting sick.

beth said...

I remember when I first found out about your trip to the emergency room that night. I am so glad you made it through. Don't forget that if anything like that ever happens again, I will gladly come a pick you up and take you to the hospital!

Right now, I have no insurance because I have no job. My children get insurance through FAMIS, a low-income program designed to serve children. I keep wondering why they can't just expand this program to cover low-income adults? As a matter of fact, when someone applies for unemployment, they should be given a list of resources for low-income insurance. Which of course, does not exist now.

I do not qualify for medicaid. But until I find a job, I can't afford insurance either. Now what are my children supposed to do if I get sick?

angel said...

That is pretty fargin scary dude...
Why do the ambulances need to idle? Do they not start? Surely they can stand ready to go but be off?