As any other high school student, health was not a primary concern for me. All I knew I had to do was to try and exercise more and eat healthier. However, this all changed. The past 3 years was when I began to worry about my health as I started getting sick. At first, it wasn’t that bad as I only felt a little more tired than usual and my balance was getting worse, but I just blamed that on the fact that I was staying up a little too late studying for tests. However, it turned out I had a much larger issue.
I went to many doctors over the span of three years—2 neurologists, a GI, many nurse practitioners and registered nurses, 3 surgeons, a sleep specialist, a physical therapist, 4 chiropractors, a radiologist, a massage therapist, a podiatrist, and a rheumatologist. I also went through a lot of different tests: 7MRIs (4 spine, 3 brain), 1 CT, and an endoscopy, which is a procedure where they put a tube down your throat and take biopsies of your organs to test if they are healthy.
I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet for this disease, but there is a surgery called fossa decompression that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
I later decided to get the surgery done at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri over an hour from my house. The procedure took about 3 hours and then I rested in the ICU for another 4 hours until getting a hospital room. I ultimately spent about 2 and a half days in the hospital. For me to fully rest and to ensure my surgery went smoothly, I should’ve stayed at the hospital longer. Unfortunately, health insurance companies care more about money than a sick person’s health. My doctor could have tried an appeal process but they take a long time and usually get denied so she didn’t fill one out. Surgery ultimately cost my family $9,000 and a whopping $25,000 a day to stay at the hospital. The insurance paid for the hospital stay but not the surgery.
All of my nurses wanted me to stay because I could barely get out of bed without throwing up. Recovery was long and insanely difficult for me. One of the worst things about recovery was not only the physical and mental obstacles I faced but also the fact that I had to miss the first semester of my senior year. This whole procedure put a lot of stress on my family too. My father had a heart attack and my mother dealt with so much pain and frustration watching me undergo so many procedures.
I hope that my story helps the youth to understand that change must be made to the corrupt healthcare system we have today.