I have a UTI, which is to say, a urinary tract infection. I am prone to them, as are many women, although in the States nobody ever talks about it and in fact everybody kind of acts like it’s some sort of unusual, secret, shameful thing. I was lucky to get my first one as a teenager living in Spain: nobody made a big deal out of it and my French friend Sylvie said “Ah. la cystite!” which is what I still call it. Cystitis, the Brits say, and I was happy on first encountering Caitlin Moran to discover that nobody makes a big deal out of it in the UK either: they just pretty much figure you’re going to have it now and then. In Spain they, or rather Javier the doctor, the QOB’s friend, gave me some green pills that made me pee orange and some blue pills that made it all go away. And over the next many years I have had it here and there and now and then and the only time it’s been a big deal is when I don’t have health insurance or the doctor gets weird about it, which happens.
I am a bit miffed though about having one right now, because cystitis is one of those Judaeo-Christian punishing illnesses: you generally get it from having too much fun. Which is to say, it’s also called honeymoonitis because you can get it from having too much sex – wait, well, too much? Anyway, a lot of sex – you don’t get it from your partner, by the way, it’s from the friction. Basically, it’s a physics based disease. Heh. You can also get it from hanging around in a wet bathing suit, so, see? Fun. You get it from fun. I have not had either of those varieties of fun in a very very VERY long time – and it occurs to me that it’s been EVEN LONGER since I had them in tandem – so this bout seems particularly unfair. But then, ascribing ridiculous religious reasons to why bad things happen is one of the rabbit holes people fall into in this country and I don’t want to go there. Next thing you know I’ll be picketing funerals. I do think, though, that this is why nobody in the US has a healthy normal approach to cystitis and instead act like it’s some kind of particularly skeevy STD, like crabs or something.
However! Let’s stop having fun and instead return to the health insurance part. I have health insurance now, and I have a doctor, or, well, at least I have a doctor for my lady parts. I keep meaning to find a doctor for the rest of me – necessary, clearly, as shown by the shoulder episode: you can take your shoulder to the gynecologist but she is not going to understand it – but I haven’t gotten around to it. Cystitis is not really a lady part thing except that it is – we ladies have a much shorter and I think thinner urinary tract than the gentlemen do and so ours tends to get clogged more easily than theirs does, or so it was once explained to my non medical school attending unless you count WebMD brain. At any rate, it’s sort of hard to say whether it falls under the purview of the gynecologist or not. On the theory that it did I called mine up and, I am utterly delighted to report, she called me back and called in a prescription and all I have to do is go and pick it up. I don’t even have to pee in a jar, hurrah, hurray, oh frabjous day. More or less. I do have to go to the drugstore over by where I work which meant that on the off chance of encountering a coworker I had to put on a bra, which I would rather not do on my day off, but whatever. First world problems! BUT.
As I hung up the phone it occurred to me that this is middle class privilege in action in America today. If I was poor – poorer, I mean, which is astoundingly, horrifically possible as I know to my sorrow – I wouldn’t have health insurance. Don’t talk to me about the ACA – in NC at least it doesn’t work because our psychotic state legislature did not expand Medicaid and thus, if you make more than, hmmmm, I think it’s like $12K a year, or if you make less but are not either over 65 or under 18 or permanently disabled, unless you have an extra $80 or $200 or more a month, you still don’t have health insurance of any kind. Nothing has changed here since Obamacare happened. Well. So if I had woken up with cystitis – actually it started yesterday and I’ve been trying to stave it off with the unspeakable horror that is real, undiluted, unsweetened cranberry juice but no dice – and I didn’t have insurance, than this is what would have happened.
- I would have had to either come up with the money for Sisters of Mercy: $200 or the ER: also at least $200 but they ask for the money at the end instead of the beginning so you might be able to get treated for free, just at the cost of your eternal credit report forever.
- Or I could have taken off work tomorrow, thus forfeiting a days pay, and gone to the free clinic at ABCCM, where you have to show up at 7 am and sit for an hour and a half in line and then there is no guarantee that you’re going to be seen.
- Then I would have had to pee in a jar and wait.
- Then I would have to pay full price for the prescription, Cipro, usually, which is probably not cheap if you don’t have insurance.
- And all this would have bankrupted me, so I just wouldn’t go, and instead go on with the cranberry juice and prayer regimen with the result that possibly if not probably it would go into my kidneys and I would end up at the ER really sick.
- AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY THE FUCK THIS COUNTRY PAYS SO MUCH MORE FOR MEDICAL CARE THAN ALL OTHER COUNTRIES! HINT: IT’S NOT BECAUSE THE CARE IS INTRINSICALLY BETTER!!
What would solve this problem, class? UNIVERSAL SINGLE PAYER HEALTH INSURANCE!
And that is our rant for today. Anyway, I’m going to the drugstore now, so enjoy and count your cystitis free blessings.