When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique I started having hip and leg pain. My doctors told me that it was probably just a strain and to treat with ibuprofen and Tylenol. The pain flared off and on for the rest of my service, but I worked through it, convinced that it was just an injury that would heal. After two years of serving my community it was time for me to end my service, but by then, I was experiencing severe pain when walking. My Peace Corps doctors sent me off with a script to get treated once I returned to the United States. However, once I returned home I learned that it would be my responsibility to seek out a doctor that could diagnose me. I would also have to pay for the care out of pocket and then request reimbursement. I ended up paying over $500 for medical costs, and it took months to receive reimbursement.
Finally, I was diagnosed with a spinal injury, bulging discs in my lower spine pinching my spinal cord and damaging my sciatic nerve. I was told that if I wished to receive care I would have to apply for worker’s compensation. It took four months for my case to be approved through worker’s compensation.
For months now I have been struggling with my spinal surgeon and worker’s compensation to get the care that I need. The process is slow and full of red tape. I have undergone two surgeries and still struggle with chronic pain. I continue spending thousands of dollars visiting various health professionals trying to find any semblance of relief. As a child, I lived in Europe and had great experiences using their universal healthcare system. I believe that the healthcare system in America is broken, but I also believe it can be fixed. I tell you my story in hopes of encouraging you to elect officials who will promote socialized healthcare and to protest for the basic human rights we all deserve. Tomorrow if you fall ill you are not guaranteed quality, affordable, and competent treatment. My story could easily become yours. And there is absolutely no reason for that.