“You have an auto-immune disorder” Dr. K. pronounced, peering at me over his wire-rimmed glasses.
“A what?” I blinked, incredulous. I mean, come on. I’ve been pretty healthy my whole life. I’m still fit and active at 50+. I exercise, take vitamin supplements, get a regular check-up and eat right (well, most of the time. Nobody’s perfect.)
So when Dr. K. said “auto-immune disorder,” his words sort of slid off the tip of my nose, did a double pirouette with a half twist, and plopped onto the floor.
But then, Dr. K’s diagnosis arrived after years of doctor’s appointments. Office visits. Misdiagnoses. Mistakes and misfires.
But that was nothing compared to battle I had to fight with brain-numbed medical bureaucrats, useless insurance, misinformation, seemingly endless re-directs and enough mindless medicrats to choke a camel. Did I mention a Washington “Healthcare” Exchange where actual health care and patients are at the basement of the priority list?
It’s enough to make your hair ache. Or, in my case, my scalp. Let me explain.
Several years ago I detected a dry, rough patch of skin on my scalp while shampooing my hair. It showed up out of nowhere. The small bumps weren’t painful. Just itchy. Because of their location on the crown of my head, I could feel but not see them.
“Maybe it’s a mosquito bite?” I shrugged, toweling off. “Or a bad sunburn?”
I combed out my hair without further incident. No pain. No discharge, swelling or anything else. I promptly forgot about the mysterious lesions until the teeth of my comb caught on a bump several weeks later. Ouch!
I gingerly explored the area. It was a bit tender but not painful. While the initial spot didn’t seem enlarged, I noticed an additional bump or two. I asked my husband to take a look. “It looks like a mosquito bite” he observed, parting my hair and peering closely at my scalp with a flashlight. “How long has it been there?”
“I don’t know exactly. Maybe a couple months. It seems to come and go. I don’t notice it all the time.”
I researched common skin problems affecting the scalp and tried several home remedies that seemed a match. When those didn’t work, I made an appointment with my primary care physician. It was the start of a five-year ride with a “health care” system that moves with the alacrity of a three-toed sloth, and with about as much urgency.
I work mostly from home, splitting my time between freelance writing and doing marketing for a local historic atmospheric theatre. No benefits. My husband’s “benefits” through his job doesn’t include affordable health insurance for dependents. Buying private insurance is beyond our means. So “health care” – if you can call it that – through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is our only real option.
Translation: Good luck finding any doc who’ll accept it.* In the meantime, what are the odds I can get an appointment before the Second Coming?
To be Continued…
* Altho I have strong feelings on the subject of “Obamacare,” et.al., I’m not going to debate that here. That’s not the purpose of this post series.