I didn’t recognize the number that called about a half-hour ago, but I’ve been trying to answer the phone when I’m awake and not in significant pain, even if it’s a scam call, or even when it is. It was my manager. After I sent in my long-term disability email, I hadn’t heard a reply back, so I figured, well, shit, my ship’s come in, I’m being called to be told I’m let go. Worse.
One of my colleagues passed away last night.
“Elroy” had not shown up to work and didn’t answer his phone calls. His brother and the police showed up to do a wellness check and found that he had passed. He was in poor physical health and it’s none of my business what he passed away of whether of his medical condition or COVID-19, but despite all that, and as I’m starting to realize through all of that, he was always in good spirits. When he – and I – were in better than terrible health, we would laugh and comport ourselves in silly, fun, and goofy ways. We were like two children at work, sometimes, and it was great. In our employment, we seek and treasure those sorts of work relationships with people where we can bond over things and have a mutual sense of respect.
When I last saw him, he was encouraging toward my spinal condition.
He posted a silly cartoon of two stick figures with the caption “I’ve got your back.” One is holding the spine of another one. It’s that sort of humor that we shared where we could joke about stuff like that. His condition was severe enough to where there were times where he would be throwing up in the restroom at work and still try to make it through the rest of his shift. He told me what his condition was and I won’t share it here. He was a good man. I don’t want to talk about this anymore right now, so I’ll shift gears to the rest of the conversation.
It was good talking with my manager as an update on my condition.
I told him about how unhelpful the doctors had been, overall, except for the spine doctor that might be doing the surgery, and how I’m in limbo right now awaiting the insurance to do their thing. I just checked my email and still nothing, at high noon, so I suppose I will sit here and continue to decline in my own physical health while I await the mercy of medical professionals and insurance individuals to cut through the necessary red tape to assist little old me in feeling better.
My manager said his father had experienced the same situation.
It was nice to know that, through this hellscape I know to be the American Healthcare System, there was some empathy, even if it was outside of it. I think back to what Elroy and I had talked about. One of the things we bonded over was the headaches I experienced earlier this year. Some of his family are in the medical industry and shared similar opinions to what I’ve expressed here. I don’t know what will come of this essay series, or even – now that I’m thinking about it – if I’ll even survive this situation with how much my health has been in rapid decline over the past three months, but I talk as honestly as I can behind a pseudonym to an unknowing public so that, perhaps, others might not suffer the way I did – and perhaps Elroy did as well.
I think I can share this story about Elroy.
He told me about how he was almost misdiagnosed. Let’s say that a misdiagnosis with the wrong medication would have a 10% chance of death. They caught the misdiagnosis in time, but it was a rather simple thing, he told me, that could have been verified. Now, this is the part where we put the qualifier on to say that we’re all human and we all make mistakes. As a writer, I’ve published essays and such with typos. However, when human life is in the balance, it is important not to be as casual as I think medical professionals have gotten to be for how revered they’ve become.
Let’s give my pain specialist as an example.
When I told my manager about this part, he said they’re useless, and I agreed, because as I told him after I told the pain specialist that I continued to be in pain in our second meeting, rather than assist, he told me to go to the ER. Now, the nurses at this place treated this pain specialist – dressed up in a dapper, blue blazer, like he was ready to pose in some fashion magazine – as though he were some sort of walking god that graced their presence. My opinion could have been biased through the lens of the aforementioned pre-ER pain, but, it was a disgusting show of decadent opulence.
I sent a third email to this pain specialist today asking for basic information.
I am to receive an injection from this pain specialist next week, and yet I don’t know if it’s Cortisol or what will be injected in me. I put in the email’s title to cancel my appointment if they can’t state the name of the medication. I would rather wait and suffer than deal with more of this lack of basic human respect. I told all of this and more private information to my manager. I’m happy that he empathized, because I had felt as though my job were, too, in a state of limbo where I was probably one misstep away from being fired since my disability claim had been rejected and all. That’s apparently going through once again, after a few spine-stressing phone calls and such. My manager did say that it is tough but this is what I need to do.
Apparently, the American Healthcare System only greases the squeakiest wheels.
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: Just getting all this out there, ya know?|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 July 24 [11:47am to 12:16pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 July 24 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|