H is for Health insurance and History (mine)

The doctor gave a very brief look at my foot and immediately sent me to bed at the infirmary.

When I moved from Schenectady to Albany in 1979, it was, in large part, to go to graduate school at the University at Albany (which may have been called SUNY Albany at the time – I forget) in the School of Public Administration.

A few days before the semester began, I went to a very nice party outdoors at a friend’s house, where I was walking in the grass with bare feet. A few days later, one of my toes on my left foot started to hurt, at first just a bit, but eventually, so badly, I thought I ought to go to a doctor. BUT I didn’t have insurance, and I WOULD in two days when I registered for classes. (Also, at that point, I didn’t even have a primary care physician, so it would have been a function of picking randomly from the phone book Yellow Pages.)

I sucked it up and somehow got through college registration, in tremendous pain. If someone had offered a wheelchair, instead of the single crutch I was using from a previous injury, I surely would have used it. That and/or whiskey. While the pain when sitting was great, the pain when standing/hobbling on one leg was almost unbearable.

Finally, I somehow made it to the college infirmary; it seemed so very far away. The doctor gave a very brief look at my foot and immediately sent me to bed at the infirmary. Seems that I got an infection beneath my toenail, it was going up my foot, and if it made it to my heart, it would have, literally, killed me. I spent the next six days in the infirmary.

This meant I was a week behind in classes, both academically and socially, from the get-go. I never caught up.

This meant two fundamental things in my life:
1) I dropped out of grad school and ended up working at a comic book store for eight and a half years.
2) I became an ardent supporter of universal health care coverage.

It’s interesting how an initially tiny pain in the foot can have life-changing consequences.

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

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