You see, we do not yet have real socialized medicine. I live in Massachusetts, and am being fined and hounded by the government because I cannot afford paying for all my medical care in advance, plus a huge cushion, which is what non-catastrophic insurance really entails; but I am still allowed to purchase medical care from whoever will sell it to me. It's unlikely that would be the case if it was socialized. Sooner or later, it's always rationing and a diminution of rights and choice to the point of denial of care on a capricious basis. More or less, with all the meddling in the medical market already, we're halfway there.
I have Lyme disease. It's no big deal, really. That is, if you treat it in a timely manner. The effects of it can be very severe and last you your whole life long, if it goes untreated for any length of time. What length of time constitutes "any length of time," you ask? Don't ask that question at Tobey Hospital in Wareham, Mass. You'll suffer until they're good and ready to treat you. They'll insult your intelligence in the interim, repeatedly. And then repeatedly after you find someone elsewhere -- someone competent-- to help you.
I went to the emergency room. I know that people treat the emergency room like their own private nursemaid now, but that's not me. I had a very high fever, intermittently, for over a month, and when it returned again I knew that I was very sick, and if I didn't act immediately, I was in a lot of trouble.
I do not have x-ray vision and a crystal ball. I did not go to the hospital and tell them I had Lyme disease. I looked up all the symptoms I had, and what they might mean, so I could speak with some sort of intelligence about my situation. They were not interested.
The doctor was interested in all sorts of diseases I manifestly did not have. He told me, at 6:00 pm, that he was going to give me a broad spectrum antibiotic in any case, and so I put up with an enormous amount of discomfort and wasteful foolishness because I knew that no matter what version of a bug borne illness I had, the treatment for it all was the same. Immediate treatment with an inexpensive antibiotic.
Six hours later, he wouldn't give it to me. He never did give me any believable reason why he would not. I had an infected bite on my ankle, and he was testing me for Lyme, along with all sorts of other tick borne illnesses. Ipso facto he suspects it. But those tests take a lot of time. He told me to visit an outpatient facility the next day. I assumed he meant that was where I would be given the medicine and could get ongoing outpatient care. I had a very high fever and was exhausted. I surrendered.
I went to where he sent me. Two doctors there said that if the doctor that sent me would not give me any treatment, they would certainly not. One doctor lied right to my face and said antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease without a positive test is always withheld.
If there should be suspicion of disease, then a course of Doxycycline should be immediately given for ten days without waiting serology tests which only yield positive results after an interval of one to two months.Another doctor from Tobey hospital called me the next day and refused to give me the prescription, and also lied or was incorrect, what difference does it make, and said treatment for suspicion of Lyme disease always waited for the test to come back. Then she wanted to schedule me for a CAT scan of all things. She couldn't tell me for what reason that was necessary.
I called around to anyone I could think to help me. Our neighbor is related to the local Department of Health official, who informed us that over 2500 people in our area were suffering from Lyme disease right now. There are only 4500 people in the town I live in. 2500 people in Southcoast Massachusetts is a lot. The hospital must know this, or be incompetent.
I called everyone that was necessary to conclude my affairs in business, declare bankruptcy, and sell my house and move away, with a phone propped on my pillow. I had to be prepared for it all. I have never been as sick as I was that week. I could no longer stand unaided; could not read properly; my hands shook too much to even hunt and peck type; and I had a roaring sound in my ears. I had only aspirin and water to treat it. The fevers were titanic.
And then a kind man, a real doctor, gave me the only advice that was any good from anyone. He told me I must find a doctor that knew me somehow, anyone, my wife's gynecologist, my son's pediatrician, anybody that would be inclined to listen to me and have pity on me.
My father's doctor. I take my father to a doctor every three months. He called me back at 8 pm that very night from his home, and agreed to see me first thing next day. It was 2 hours in the car, and my wife had to walk me into the building on her arm. The doctor said:
Do not trouble yourself over those other doctors. It can only make you upset, and serves no purpose. I do not know why they would not do for you such a simple thing. I will give you this right now.
I took the first pill, trembling and sweating in the lobby of the Walgreens, the pharmacist wondering silently why that beautiful woman was holding the hand of that wretched looking wraith of a man.
Four hours later the fever was gone for good. I went back to work, feeble and enervated, but no longer sick, the next week. The prescription cost $13.
The hospital called the following week. You have Lyme disease. You really need a prescription for Doxycycline. Terrible things could happen to you if you don't get it. Do you still want your CAT scan?
Save the CAT scan for the people who need it, doctor. Examine the heads of people who want to lose their autonomy, their freedom, maybe their very skins, because they are willing to turn over our lives to arbitrary and foolish people and institutions to avoid a lousy ten dollar co-pay.
How much is a thirteen dollar prescription worth, if it's free but you can't have it?