Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chronic recognition

Ill and Uninsured in Illinois has gotten a tiny bit of recognition lately. The blog was accepted to Blogburst, a blog syndication service, which means a couple of my posts appeared on the Chicago Sun-Times' and Daily Southtown Web site. (This seems to have generated about five click-throughs to the actual blog so far, and there's no compensation, in case you were wondering.) More gratifyingly, Duncan Cross very kindly invited me to participate in the very first Patients for a Moment, a new patient-centered blog carnival, which launched today. It's a fine start. Go take a look.

One of the linked posts that particularly struck me was at Getting Closer to Myself on how to talk about one's illness. This is something I've been struggling with; most of my friends and acquaintances have no idea how sick I've been — what they think about why I've dropped out of sight I don't know. Probably they don't much care. I haven't told many people, in part because I still have hopes of finding a job when I get through all of this, and a reputation as a sickly person in the relatively small circle of my field will be hard to overcome. I never expected to be so ill for so long.

Duncan's comments, which linked my post on retail clinics to a thoughtful post from A Blessed Mess on the financial problems of chronic illness, sent me to look up just what chronic illness is.

I hadn't before now thought of myself as chronically ill. However, since the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics defines a chronic illness as one lasting three months or more, and this bout of decrepitude has lasted since late December, I guess I am. But it's the health-care system that's made me a chronic invalid.

Five years ago, when I had health insurance, I had an episode. It lasted a few weeks — four, maybe six altogether — during which time I had an emergency room visit, a follow-up with a specialist, three outpatient medical procedures and a number of intervening doctor visits. I had to take about a week off work, all told. And then it was all over and I was fine.

This new episode, without insurance, has been pretty much the same, treatment-wise. But the timing has been much different. I became ill in late December. I didn't get to see a specialist until late March. I had the first procedure in late April, with follow-up a month after that. A second procedure took place early this month, and my follow-up isn't until the end of the month. I'm guessing a third procedure will be needed, just like last time, so that'll be another two months. For all of this time, I've been too ill to leave my house, and for much of it, too sick even to work at home. I need a job, and yet I'm in no condition to look for work.

This isn't the fault of the beleaguered Cook County Health and Hospitals System. It isn't my fault. This is America's fault.

Thanks, Duncan, and also thank you to the bloggers who've added me to their blogrolls. Meanwhile, I invite your comments on this blog and suggestions on what I might do to get the word out further. By the way, please note the little star and the green doodad below. The star lets you promote a post on The Windy Citizen, Chicago's version of Digg. The green Share This icon makes it easy to share on Digg, Facebook or a variety of other social networks.

1 comment:

  1. Your point reminds me of something I recently heard from a woman who was born in the UK. I walked back to the El with her after that HCAN rally in Chicago a couple of months ago. She said that she thinks a huge problem in the US is that we don't talk about health care problems. According to this woman, it's not a problem in the UK. One possible reason for our silence is simply employment related. Due to our current health care system, combined with a general distaste for labor fairness issues in general and human rights issues born of the Reagan era, people have been taught to keep mum about health issues. Then, there's the whole media related view of what people are supposed to be like, thin, blonde and beautiful and most particularly, without a care in the world that cannot be fixed in 30-60 minutes. I am also wondering if the profit motive of our health care system has something to do with it. When I go to the doctor, I always have the feeling that some of the grayer areas of diagonsis and treatment are disfavored by doctors. I don't know what you have and this does not apply to you, but in my experience as an attorney, if one has something in a sort of gray area of diagnosis or treatment, their character is questioned. Chronic gastro-intestinal problems = you're nuts. Hormonal problems = you're nuts. Tired, achy, not sure why = you're nuts. Everything seems to come down to these anti-depressants these days. That's what's nuts.


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