Why I am 65 on the inside:
1. I have gray hair
2. My knees hurt when cold front comes through
3. I have shingles
Let’s start with the shingles.
Leave it to me to get a disease for 60-year-olds during the two months of my life I don’t have insurance. Years down the road, this will be the dialogue between me and my potential clients:
“Do you have health insurance?”
“No, I can’t afford it”
“I think you should consider it. When I didn’t have insurance, I stabbed my foot with a parking lot spike and then I got shingles.”
In 2058, it will be an urban legend: remember the girl who stabbed her foot and got shingles?
Here’s the thing, I had the stupid disease for almost two weeks before I even knew what was going on. I washed our clothes and sheets and couch covers in scalding hot water, because I thought we had some kind of a bug issue. I even walked around the B&G Club asking, “I’m sorry, I know this is weird, but do you guys have scabies?” I showed them the rash. No one had scabies. (I have this weird irrational fear of scabies.)
I barely have an income, and I am in that two-month time period between the last thing and the next one. Every other clinic I’ve been to—and I’ve been to three—required proof of address, paycheck stubs, and a payment percentage. Once I paid $150 for vaccination, and once I paid $35. I was grateful both times. But I was seen by sketchy people and treated like the 75th person they’d seen that day who took advantage of the system and was just not worth the time and effort it took to provide the discounted service in the first place.
Today, the workers were kind and efficient, even the sign-in lady. Even the lady who walked up at 8:30 and unlocked the door for the mass of ill or injured people who were crazy for their meds or drooping on the curb with blasted shingles. She walked up and said, how is everyone today? I thought things might be okay right then.
The doctor turned out to be an actual, true doctor—albeit an 85 yr old one. I waited for 4 hours because he spent, like, 30 minutes with the guy in front of me who had a knee problem, and another twenty minutes with a lady who was afraid to get a mammogram, and the Indian family in front of them who were working with a translator, and the family before them who spoke only Spanish. Plus, he walked slowly.
But they cut the patient list off at 25 (from what I could gather) to adequately serve those who had already arrived, and made an effort to not over-promise and under-serve.
In the end, they never asked why I couldn’t pay. They did not require proof that I couldn’t pay. It was an interesting social-service concept: if someone says they need something and you have the means, give it to them. There were no hoops. Proof was not necessary. I was sick, so they helped.
They treated me like I was actually Jesus.
I was seen by the doctor and then sent downstairs for meds, and I received everything for free. FREE! Two hundred dollars worth of prescription meds were provided and filled by volunteer pharmacists, and I was seen and diagnosed by a volunteer doctor who greeted me with a smile and asked how my day was going. Can you believe it?
I love the ASK clinic.
I love that there are organizations giving service a good name to the actual client instead of just the donors.
And I love that there are people out there who treat other people like Jesus.
I hate the shingles. It feels like someone is continually stabbing me in the back and then setting my stomach on fire.