A slice of health care in Manhattan

Posted: December 9, 2009 in commentary, Musings, new york

*This is yet again one of those daily observations I have about my life in Manhattan as a foreign graduate studies student. Another entry to add to my chronicles of an outsider/insider project from an ambivalent post-colonial identity standpoint.

A week ago, I bought a deep muscle moisture heat pad that I was hoping to be able to use to alleviate the onslaught of the worst sciatic pain I have experienced so far. Somebody told me that it must be the cold temperature that caused the pain, or maybe it’s also the stress I have been having over graduate school work. Whichever was the correct explanation, I really don’t care because all I think about lately is how to alleviate the pain, and make it go away. So when I saw the heating pad at Duane Reade, I immediately bought it with hopes that I could use it right away.

Unfortunately, when I read the package directions, I discovered that I could only heat the pad in a microwave open and nowhere else. I didn’t have a microwave oven at my apartment. My former housemates brought the microwave oven with them when they left. As I live alone, I have no one to share the money with to buy a brand new microwave oven. I tried for week to ruminate about the entire situation; initially deciding that I can postpone buying a microwave for the heating pad and other needs, and just rely on my good old over-the-counter-pain relievers.

But when I had another bout of pain last night and couldn’t sleep, I decided this morning that indeed the time has come for me to decide on getting a microwave or going to the pharmacy to buy my prescription drugs.

When I went to the pharmacy, the pharmacist told me that they won’t validate the prescriptions my Filipino doctor gave me as I should get prescriptions from an American doctor. I secretly wondered why this is the case here. Amazing how lopsided the whole situation is. When Americans go to our country and bring with them prescriptions given to them from their American doctors, usually, these prescriptions are honored by pharmacies, and the American visitor is not required to procure a new set of prescriptions specifically from a Filipino doctor.

But I held my peace.

I then went to the nearest health clinic, only to find out that they won’t honor my health insurance card, and that if I go through with a consult, I have to pay 250 dollars! Holding back tears, I told the receptionist “no thank you” and then went out in the streets, feeling so blue I wanted to be that figure in Edward Munch’s Scream. Tears streaking down my face, I walked to the nearest appliance and furniture store to finally look for the cheapest microwave oven.

As of the moment, I knew that I’ll have to rely on the heating pad, and over-the-counter pain medicines to battle the muscle spasms and the nerve pain. I knew I was screwed for 2 years in America where health care is really for the rich.

So there, I bought a new microwave oven. How I transported the oven and the story surrounding that journey is another entry.

  1. Even if you’re uninsured, there are several places you can go to in Manhattan for more affordable doctor’s visit – please check this out: http://www.ryancenter.org/
    Hope you feel better.

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