I haven’t been posting lately because my health has taken a turn for the worse.
The mystery illness, which used to manifest every few months and last for a couple of weeks or so, has now decided (I guess) to stick around. And I am worse.
I have been struggling to go to my volunteer gig (as it pays a stipend of $2.65/hour and, small as that is, I desperately need the money), run basic errands, and then the rest of the time I try to sleep.
I’ve been lucky recently because we have had snow days – which means I stay home but still get paid. I have called in sick a few times but I can’t do that much because I don’t get sick pay and I am afraid the agency will drop me from the program.
Aside #1: It is a federal program called Senior Companion Program. Info here.
As you can see if you look at the link, I am supposed to spend time with a senior who needs someone just to hang out with. However, since I don’t have a car – and many applicants for this program want someone to take them to lunch and so on – I have been assigned to work in 2 hospital gift shops. Running a cash register and waiting on people.
That is very different from what the program intended, but recently they found me a client to go visit every Friday. That’s a good thing, and a better use of my time/skills.
But, on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I work at the gift shops. Yesterday, I was working at one of them, and after lunch I became ill.
This is where transportation, in my mind, becomes a medical complication.
I had to go home. So off I went to wait at the bus stop, and took the one hour ride home, trying not to get sick all that time.
Aside #2: That’s very hard to do, by the way. I emphasized how long it takes because I want you to imagine what that’s like, riding a bus for that length of time when you are feeling really shitty.
When I finally got off the bus, I treated the neighbors to the very unpleasant site of me puking in the street. Oh well, at least I held off until I was off the bus! Got some weird stares but who cares?
Up until yesterday, I could usually work my shift (4-6 hours, depending) and not get super-sick until I got back home to my apartment.
I just figured it would pass, like it has for what? The past 2 years maybe?
Had I had a car, I could have driven to a clinic, or my doctor. Or I could have even been able to pull off the road and get sick. But public transportation doesn’t allow for that.
This is another example of the snowball effect of being poor – you can’t just pop out to the local clinic. You have to spend a lot of time on the bus, if you are even up for that, or if you psychically know in advance that you will need to get medical attention, you can call one day in advance for medical transport (ala Blair Senior Services van). But only before 2 PM.
If you’re really sick, you can gamble and call an ambulance. That’s a gamble because if the hospital staff can’t figure out what’s wrong enough to admit you – as they cannot admit without a diagnosis – or if they figure they can just send you home with antibiotics…
…you then have no way to get home. Unless you are lucky enough to be discharged before 3 PM, when the last bus from the hospital leaves for the transit center where you can catch the last bus to Hollidaysburg. Gotta make that bus by 3:30, though, or it leaves the transit center without you.
You could take a taxi home. That’s a minimum $20, before tip.
So, as you can see now, being sick is an enormous hassle if you don’t have a car.
Now add being sick to doing errands without a car (cats gotta eat!), and volunteering without a car, and just getting out of the apartment becomes a huge ordeal that takes a lot of effort.
Another example was today, on my day off…I made arrangements to have medical transport (BSS van) take me to Walgreen’s to pick up my hypertension medication. I called yesterday, as per their rules.
But I was so ill that when I left the apartment today I forgot my wallet.
I had to call them to bring me home, prescription-less.
Now think about that. People with cars can just turn around, go home, get their wallets, and go back to Walgreen’s.
But, since I have to rely on the vans, and because I didn’t get to Walgreen’s until after 2 PM…
Tough. They picked me up but wouldn’t make another appointment for tomorrow because it was after 2 PM. Now I will have to stop off at Walgreen’s on the way home tomorrow from my client’s apartment, on the bus. And then wait another hour for another bus to come by. All while sick, and all while it’s very, very cold here.
I think this transportation issue, with all its “waiting in the wind and cold” and the like, has aggravated my medical condition. I am pretty sure this is typical stuff for older folk in my economic class.
Want to do a good deed? Take a car-less neighbor/relative to the store some time. I guarantee it will be appreciated.
Oh, and here’s the last thing about being on Medicare…
You cannot, at least in Blair County, get an appointment with your doctor unless you call at the end of one month for an appointment in the next month. So I have to wait until the end of February to get an appointment with Dr. Wonderful for March.
Meanwhile, I am tracking the fevers and have also acquired test strips so I can give him data when I go see him.
Aside #3: Doing surveys for Amazon gift cards is how I was able to buy the test strips (and a toaster oven, as my oven stopped working last week – when it rains, it pours!). Unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming, but it’s yet another survival strategy.
I used a test strip today. Found something. I won’t go into details but at least I have something to tell my doctor. At minimum, I think part of the issue is in one of my kidneys. The pain radiating from my flank is a clue. Could be a stone, an infection, or something else, though usually I don’t have kidney stone attacks for years and years, not like this anyway.
Oddly enough, my doctor never tested my kidneys except for a urinalysis. I guess I will ask him to refer me to a nephrologist, and cross my fingers that there is a competent one in Altoona that takes Medicare. Otherwise…Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, which requires transportation, at least one night in a motel, and copious amounts of money for cab fare.
Because, no matter what the issue is this time, it still leaves the problem of “why is she testing positive for inflammation?” The doctor can treat a kidney infection or stones, but we still won’t know why I continue to run a fever nightly, or why I have the other symptoms even when there aren’t kidney infections or stones present.
Anyway, that’s what’s going on, and why I have been absent from WordPress, Facebook, and, in general, everywhere on and off the internet.
And none of that has left me energy to blog. Though I have watched a lot of debates on TV and so on, so I do have a lot of opinions to blog about. When I can get my fever down long enough to write a proper blog post, I will.
Thanks to everyone who asked me if I was ok. I appreciate that more than you know.
Be good. Be kind. Stay tuned.