A Question We Must Ask Ourselves

For years I refused to take medication. Now I do. I won’t go into the journey I took from not taking any medication whatsoever, for any reason, to taking medication for my epilepsy. That’s another post for another day.

I will say that it was a hard decision to make. It was a hard pill to swallow, both figuratively and literally.

All medication has side effects. No medication is a cure.

But the abled tend to forget that. We disabled should be dutiful broken bodies and take what is given to us.

On paper, or a computer screen, my side effects aren’t “bad.” There are many that are much worse than mine.

But.

But they’re still something that I wouldn’t have to deal with if I weren’t on medication. And these side effects are something I’m going to have to deal with as long as I’m on medication.

The side effects and risks are something we have to weigh against the benefits of the medication. Is it worth it? For me, is the constant dry mouth, the drowsiness, and the certainty of partials and seizures were I to suddenly stop taking the medication worth its benefit of guarding against potential partials and grand mals? Not to mention, the “side effect” of having to remember to take two doses of medication, the actual swallowing of the pills, and the injuries I’m sure to suffer from the said partials and grand mals (the ones I’d have if I were to go off of the meds for some reason).

Like I said, the labeled side effects of the medication aren’t as bad as many others are. The higher number of labeled side effects increases the burden of both the decision and the consequences of taking the medication.

Then you have the actual financial cost of the medication, and the trip to the pharmacy. Sounds like no big deal; if you’re able-bodied, have a car, and money isn’t an issue.

These are questions we must ask ourselves to decide: is it worth it?

I’ll say it again: drugs are not cures. We’re not considered “healed” if we take them. We not considered “normal” if we take them. The things that are taken away from us by society for our conditions are not given back once we take drugs. I’m still an epileptic regardless of whether I take drugs or not. My meds do not “fix” me, my brain, my “abnormal” brain waves.

I ask myself every time I wake in the middle of the night with a bone-dry mouth: is it worth it?

I ask myself every time, the many times a day I have to run to the bathroom for all the water I drink to keep my mouth moistened: is it worth it?

I ask myself every evening I calculate just how late to take my evening dose so I don’t dose off before I want to: is it worth it?

I ask myself every time my schedule messes up my dosage schedule and I have a series of partials: is it worth it?

I don’t know.

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Fun With Health Insurance

Not too long ago, I wrote about my past experiences with my old insurance company, and my apprehensions about my new insurance.

Well. Let’s just say I’m not pleasantly surprised.

Recently, I went to my doctor’s office, to get my prescription renewed and for a blood test to measure my Dilantin levels. I gave my new insurance information and left, surprised at the ease. A couple of weeks later, I get a bill in the mail for the full cost of the office visit and blood test.

Turns out, that my new insurance says that I should file with my “primary insurance” first. My primary insurance? My old one, that I thought I was no longer on.

Funny. My former insurance spent the whole time while I was on the policy claiming that I was not on it, and now that I’m really not, I supposedly am.

The circles, they dizzy me.

Why Repealing Healthcare Reform is a Bad Idea.

As the health care debate emerges again, I’d like to give the participants a unique perspective: I’m an epileptic woman that works full-time, has health insurance with a lot of strings attached, and (of course) pays taxes.

Here’s what my epilepsy means as far as healthcare: I have a monthly prescription that I have to take. Otherwise, seizures! Inflicting my disease upon others! Inconveniencing others! Every few months, a doctor’s visit, and depending on the doctor’s whim, perhaps an EEG at the nearest hospital the next week. If I’m unfortunate enough to have a seizure in public I have to deal with EMTs, perhaps an ambulance ride, the Emergency Room, and doctors and nurses rushing about to give me tests to determine what is wrong with me, all the while ignoring my feeble, half-conscious self informing them exactly what is “wrong” with me.

This gets expensive, folks, even with insurance. With or without it–it’s a nightmare.

I remember my college days, sprinkled with seizures, and the inevitable aftermath of my insurance company claiming I’m no longer covered, leading to the hospital sending me bills that were not mine to pay, then to collections and the night-and-day harassment of those lovely people. Then the calls to the insurance company, the feigned “oh my! We don’t know what happened! We’ll get you right back on the policy!” and the grasshopper chirps when they were asked to pay their share of my hospital visits.

My insurance paid four dollars of my monthly prescription.

After every doctor’s visit, I would inevitably get a call from the doctor’s office. “Ms. Wick, the insurance company says you’re not on the policy.” I would sigh, tell them that I am, that I will call the insurance company and that to please file again. Like my calls about the hospital bills, the insurance company would say, “Oh! My! I don’t know how that happened!” Unlike the hospital bills, they would actually pay their share. Does this make it better? No.

That insurance company? A national, well-known insurance company. Many of your probably have policies with them.

Post-college, I began my full-time job, and got a new policy with a different health care company. I hoped for better service, hell, service period, for the money that I gave them. I knew when I was filling out the paperwork, however, that it would not be much better. Right there on the paperwork, the insurance company declared its unwillingness to actually provide the service for which it was being paid for: pre-existing conditions would not be covered for a full year. After that? Who knows. My previous insurance company certainly did not declare that it would pull the crap with me that it did.

I haven’t yet used it, save to refill my prescription. They pay more than my previous insurance company did. But my doctor’s visits? The annual EEGs? The Emergency Room trips? It remains to be seen. I do not have much faith, however, when right in the paperwork they tell me that they will not pay for conditions that are the entirety of why I am enlisting their service, for an entire year.

Imagine paying a mortgage on a house for a full year before you are allowed to move in. Imagine paying tuition at a university for a full year before you are allowed to enroll in classes. These things are outrageous. They would not happen–because they are so clearly thieving. In what other industry would it be acceptable to pay for a service and then to not receive it? It is acceptable in the healthcare industry only because we have allowed it to be so. “Obamacare” is the first step to Americans actually getting service that they have paid for. It is setting a corrupt market right. A market that should not exist in the first place. Healthcare should not be a business. However, right now, in the “best country in the world,” it is. So we must fix it.

To properly manage my epilepsy, I must go one of two routes: The first, and the easiest is to go on medication. I need health insurance for this. I need a job for both of these. The second: to prevent seizures without medication, I must keep stress at the lowest level possible. Ten or eleven hours of sleep a night is a must. I can manage with nine, but ten would be ideal. Why? Stress and sleep deprivation are the two things that trigger my epilepsy. It’s hard work, and takes a lot of thought, balance, effort, and planning to achieve those things, and even so, I still may have a seizure every now and then. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful. Getting ten hours of sleep a night and still being able to accomplish things are impossible. Throw in a need to be low-stress, and it is a laughable endeavor.

I pay my taxes. I pay my insurance premiums. I deserve to get what I paid for. I’m not “an epileptic.” I’m a human being. I’m trying to earn my place in a devastated economy. I want no handouts. I want to work. The only job that the health care bill will “crush” is mine if it’s repealed. Take away my access to healthcare, you take away my ability to work.

The Fight for Domestic Partnership Benefits at Western Kentucky University

Skylar Jordan, a good friend of mine, has been trying to pressure the Benefits Committee of Western Kentucky University to add domestic partners to the list of those family members that share the benefits of Western’s employees.

He first brought it up last year in our Student Government Association, who passed a resolution supporting domestic partnership benefits. Next it came up at University Senate, where we also got a resolution passed supporting DPB.

But the Benefits Committee ignored both faculty and students, and voted against it. Skylar wrote his response, published on his blog, as well as in the student newspaper. He laid out a very eloquent argument; check it out here.