January 24, 2011 by Kat Richter
You know you’re truly under the weather when there are two brand new shoeboxes lying on the floor outside of your closet, containing (presumably) the new stilettos and high heeled boots you ordered from NineWest.com and yet you have not the slightest inclination to open the boxes and try them on.
At least this is how I know that I’m truly under the weather. I can generally muster the willpower for anything shoe-related regardless of my personal health or lack thereof, especially if there’s a sale coupon or high heels involved. But in my current state, I couldn’t care less.
This, dear readers, is how I know that I’m dying of the plague.
Unfortunately, the doctor at the clinic on Washington Ave. disagrees with me on this point. “It’s just a cold,” she informs me—and this after I’ve spent three hours waiting for her to take my temperature, verify that I’m not pregnant and deliver her brilliant prognosis.
“Take some Sudafed,” she suggests, “and come back in a week if things haven’t cleared up.”
Of course, because I can afford to spend another three days—let alone seven—sitting around doing nothing. As it is, I finished reading the Chelsea Handler book I checked out of the library in the time that it took the imbecile nurses to determine that I was a) not running a fever and b) not with child.
I wouldn’t be so upset if I hadn’t been made to pee in a cup to determine the latter of these facts, but given my lack of decent health insurance, the only healthcare I can afford is that of the clinic on Washington Ave. and evidently the sort of women who frequent the clinic can’t be trusted to know whether or not they’re pregnant.
This pisses me off on several levels. Firstly, I hate being lumped together with the rest of the uninsured masses at the clinic; the doctors always assume I’m some sort of illiterate high school drop out with six illegitimate kids in tow and they feel compelled to launch into condom-cheerleader mode whenever they get me one-on-one. There are no decent tissues, the receptionists are rude, the waiting room reminds me of the Great Hall at Ellis Island and there’s not one scrap of reading material, to say nothing of some toys for all of the screaming toddlers riddled with ear infections.
But what’s worse than how I feel about being subjected to magazine-less waiting rooms and condescending lectures on safe sex is that anyone should be subjected to these things, simply because they have crappy health insurance (or none at all) and can’t afford to go to a proper doctor’s office.
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the particular inefficiencies (and blatant inequalities) that comprise the American healthcare system, I should point out that aside from the doctor (who tells me that she herself is feeling so poorly that she would have called out sick had she not been the one and only doctor scheduled to work), I am the only Caucasian in the entire clinic (and I’m not even realy Caucasian). The rest of patients and staff are minorities: mostly Latinos, African Americans and, judging from the surrounding storefronts, Vietnamese.
One of my college professors used to say that you should judge a country not on the merits of its most successful citizens but by how it treats its most vulnerable—in this case, the minorities, the immigrants and, seeing as I find myself in this very same magazine-less waiting room, I might as well include the underpaid artists and indebted college graduates of my generation in this picture too.
By this account, America isn’t doing terribly well.
In fact, it’s almost enough to make me want to dust off my old lobbying outfit and head down to the DC to give our elected officials my two cents on their proposed healthcare “reforms” (yes, I have an official lobbying outfit, leftover from my college days when I still believed in the power of the democratic process). But in order for this to happen, I’ll need to not die of the plague, and before I go anywhere, I’ll need to try on my new shoes.