“Good health is a crown on the head of a well person that only a sick person can see.”
I was still working at Dolphin Marketing, stretching every penny of a $27,500 salary as I sat in the optometrist office waiting for my eye exam. The Dolphin Marketing insurance did not cover eye exams, so I was paying for this visit and sub-sequentially any eyewear purchases out of (my small) pocket. Eye exam completed, the optometrist asked my preferred contact lens. I mentioned Acuvue Advanced and he immediately recommended that I switched to PureVision2. My gut told me to stay the course with Acuvue – if it’s not broke don’t fix it right? – but who was I to question the good doctor? I placed an order for a year supply of contacts and picked them up a week later. The second week into wearing the new lens, things started to get blurry…
I was staring at my computer screen reviewing advertising key performance indicators (KPIs) while on our morning conference call when I feel my left eye start to bother me. After the call I run to the bathroom and see that my eye is red-ish. “No big deal” I think, I picked up over the counter eye drops from the local pharmacy, used it every couple hours and the irritation seemed to resolve itself. Later that night, once home I found myself using the eye drops more aggressively. Looking in the mirror, I noticed the drops would clear up the redness but unlike earlier, the redness came back almost immediately. I did not find it serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room– besides the ER, is just a waiting nightmare, the Triage Nurse certainly would not have considered my eye irritation a high enough priority to see a doctor anytime soon. So I defaulted to my next best idea:
Sleep it off?
Friday morning and my eye was no clearer. I continued to use the drops for momentary relief but it started to do more harm than good. On my commute into work I was only able to partially open my eye as I blinked profusely and teared ever so often. During the morning meeting I used my fingers to hold my eye open long enough for me to take a picture on my phone. What the pictured revealed was gruesome enough that I knew I needed immediate attention. It was Friday and weekend medicial attention– outside of the ER, would have been slim. My right eye was healthy and clear but my left eye had patches of red (I presumed blood) spots all over my sclera. Fearing for the long term health of my eyeball, I went back to the optical. The optometrist I previously saw did not work Fridays but I was able to see another optometrist. As a sat in front of the slit lamp, the optometrist immediate reaction did not make me feel any better. I knew it was bad when he decided to use the slit lamp a second time to confirm his initial findings. The verdict? To quote the optometrist:
“Your eyeball is infected and pretty beat up. It’s the worst case I have ever seen.”
He recommended seeing an ophthalmologist immediately, had I waited another day my vision would have been permanently damaged and I should consider myself lucky. He referred me to a crosstown ophthalmologist who was willing to see me that day. I hurried over and he saw me immediately. He ran several test and used two different eye drops which provided me relief and within a few minutes allowed me to completely open my eye again. He concluded that I should discontinue use of the PureVision2 contacts and return to Acuvue Advanced after my eye heals. He gave me a prescription for eyedrops which I had to take every six hours. He also recommended a return visit on Monday.
My copay for the ophthalmologist was $60. Unfortunately, my insurance did not cover any of the prescription cost. Having been told I was lucky to not have caused any permanent eye damage, the idea of not obtaining the medicine was not an option– no matter the cost. The cashier gave me the quote of $80 for a 3 milliliter bottle. Add in my return visit Monday and the total cost was $200. Let me be clear $200 to save my vision is a no-brainer. It’s a deal I’ll make every single time. At the time $200 was a significant portion of my budget (about half a paycheck) and it did make things even tighter that month, but health is more important. You can make more money but not another eyeball.
This experience, along with my experience with Dr. Cash Cavity make me continue to question the rising cost of the medical industry.
- Why are the cost of procedures not know beforehand? Often times at the doctor’s office you pay your copay and then weeks (sometimes months) later you receive a hefty invoice?
- Medical bills are a rising reason of bankruptcy.
- Recently at an urgent care the doctors recommended I head to the hospital (which was 2 blocks away – about a 4 minute walk). I intended to walk over but they refused and called an ambulance. Not only did the ambulance take 45 minutes to arrive, but the cost of this trip? $500. Now I understand why rideshare companies are being used as ambulances.
- Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune diseases are outside the conventional advice of a rigorous exercise program or healthy diet, and the fact is no one chooses to be sick. What about people who simply are unable to afford care and resort to using an emergency room as their primary care? What is the answer?
Yes, the quality of the American
healthcare system may be the best in the world… if you can afford it.