Today I failed my son. I didn’t spank him, or yell at him, or even lose my patience with him. Today, I failed my son because he was sick and I could not afford his medication. Fewer things make you feel as helpless and hopeless as a parent then having a sick child who needs medicine, and being unable to provide that basic need.
I had a breakdown in the pharmacy.
My son is on Medicaid, and believe me, I don’t like saying that out loud. Yes, during trivial debates I am always dubbed the “bleeding heart” who feels everyone who needs temporary assistance should be able to get it without flack or judgment. And yes, my husband lost his job this fall and I am self-employed so affording health insurance isn’t an option. And yes, I have come to terms with being “poor” because the sacrifices I’ve made allow me to be at home with my son and that is priceless.
Still, I had a breakdown at the pharmacy.
Apparently when you are on one form of Medicaid, and you become too poor for that option, they have another option for the really, REALLY poor people. After jumping through hoops and retrieving every piece of documentation proving I am an American human not receiving any other benefits, my son has health insurance – just my son. But I can live with that because he is safe (?) and covered.
I went to the pharmacy to fill two prescriptions, and my insurance card “wasn’t working.” The technician informed me that there was “nothing she could do,” and that without insurance my son’s medication would cost $500 (translation: almost two week’s pay). The very nice pharmacy assistant suggested I had two types of insurance. She then tried it two more times, and asked for help. The other assistant told me that after switching coverage, I must inform the first insurance coverer for my switch (which I did). I then had to notify the NEW insurance carrier that I told the old insurance carrier that I had new insurance. I wish I was joking.
Like I said, I had a breakdown in the pharmacy today.
After forty minutes of phone calls, and transfers, and being on hold I feel hopeless. Here I am, a 27-year-old woman with a one year old. I am responsible for this human, and he is sick, and he needs medicine, and I cannot afford his medicine. I begin to cry in the pharmacy, in front of everyone for this tiny human. For this tiny human who will grow up in a world where good health coverage is one of the most coveted commodities we know – and where this commodity does not exist succinctly.
Then, I start to hate. I hate the pharmacist for being smug. I hate the technicians who would rather pretend I don’t exist while I’m sitting there crying like a baby in the middle of the pharmacy. Who would rather avoid eye contact and pretend I’m not there then to offer to listen, or to offer a tissue. I hate the morbidly obese woman in the pharmacy easily filling her prescriptions – the medicine keeping her alive because she is fat. I hate – I fucking HATE the homeless man selling homeless newspapers trying to fill his pain medication script one week early who is offering simple and sad lies for why he is trying to cheat the system to feed his addiction. I hate the checkout girl flirting with the man who has a “magic prescription card” that saves him $15 and I fucking HATE the man for complaining that he usually doesn’t have to pay for medicine.
Then I hate myself for judging every soul in this pharmacy, and I hate myself for crying, and I hate myself for not being able to afford my son’s medicine. I realize that we are all fighting a battle in one way or another. Whether we have no money, or too much money, or too much pain – we are all battling our own version of the system – large and small.
I had a breakdown in the pharmacy today. I lost that battle. But I will not lose the war.
*Note: Everyone’s generosity is overwhelming! Our family did get our insurance straightened out. While we GREATLY appreciate it, we do not need donations. Instead, please continue to share this story. We are grateful because we have so much love.