Opinion: Our American health system is utterly broken

By Beth Yeager, Taos
Posted 8/15/19

So this happened ...Monday (Aug. 6) started as a normal day for me. I attended my 8 a.m. meeting at First Presbyterian with my family of the heart, then I ran a couple of errands and, …

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Opinion: Our American health system is utterly broken


So this happened ...

Monday (Aug. 6) started as a normal day for me. I attended my 8 a.m. meeting at First Presbyterian with my family of the heart, then I ran a couple of errands and, at 10:30 a.m., opened the shop I work in, Clarke & Co.

I was having a fabulous day until a cripplingly explosive headache arrived at 1:30 p.m. I thought I was having a migraine. I took an Imitrex, and I sat down. Within minutes, I couldn't see, my hands were drawing up and I was extremely nauseous and clammy. I found my cellphone and asked Siri to call Mike (since I couldn't see the keypad). Siri (bless her heart) called my friend Myca who fortunately was just down the street and got to me within minutes. She locked up the shop and started dragging me to her car.

By this time, my right side had gone numb, including my face. I was experiencing a Transient Ischemic Attack (or TIA). A kind gentleman named Mark helped Myca get me to the car. My Mike was running across the parking lot and took over from Myca. I had fallen two weeks prior to this and hit my head on a heavy piece of furniture. Due to my history of two closed head injuries (both requiring Flight for Life and extensive hospitalization), my husband is quite familiar with these random episodes that I experience.

The point of this entire story is that I refused -- absolutely refused -- to be treated at the hospital, because I do not have medical insurance. I was more concerned with the exorbitant medical bills than with my own well-being. I could not, in good conscience, leave my husband and son financially destitute due to medical procedures. I gambled on whether this was "the big one."

Mike brought me home and waited for the symptoms to subside. It took six hours. During that time, I was trying desperately to communicate with him to tell Will (our son) and my mama that I love them. I honestly thought I was going to die. I made peace with both dying and not bankrupting my family. What a completely screwed-up world we live in when that is a conscientious choice.

Many of you know me: I'm not who you think of when the term "uninsured" comes to mind. My husband is provided insurance through his company and our son is covered through a separate policy at his university.

I, however, have a string of preexisting, hard-to-insure obstacles (closed head injuries, asthma) that have extremely high monthly copays. I cannot apply again until Jan. 1, 2020.

In the meantime, I work three jobs (Clarke & Co., The Little Place Boutique and Red Arrow Emporium.) I am active in our community. I'm on the board of directors at Golden Willow Grief Recovery Center. I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Shared Table and Stray Hearts, and I counsel with many people struggling with addiction issues. I try to be kind, generous, tolerant and loving to all. Yet in a moment of unadulterated fear -- compounded by intense pain and uncertainty -- I chose to die.

Our "system" is broken. Absolutely broken. Please read this in my voice. Hear me when I beg you to help. We deserve better than to live in such fear. We deserve medical care. It's a human right, and it should be treated as such.


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