In February of 2014, during my junior year of high school, I was having a great time, hanging out with my friends one day before my choir left for tour later in the week. We had decided to go bowling. Based on my skill level on the Wii, I thought I would be an excellent bowler in real life, but I was sorely mistaken. I was using a ball that I now realize was probably too heavy for me and my technique was terrible. We didn’t have the bumpers up and I kept getting gutter ball after gutter ball. The one time during the game that I got a strike, I paraded around as though I was the best bowler in the world. My glory didn’t last very long, but that didn’t matter because I was just enjoying the company of my friends.
The rest of the afternoon was fine and dandy, just as the following days were, until we left for our choir tour. We were travelling by van to the little city of Moscow, Idaho to perform and learn from other groups. The morning of our travels, I awoke with a slight pain in my chest that only seemed to occur when I exhaled greatly. I was very mildly concerned, but I decided that the pain would subside and that I shouldn’t worry. As we rode in the van, we were all singing, telling stories, laughing, and just having a good time. I was really enjoying myself with my friends, but I noticed that the pain in my chest was getting increasingly worse as time went on. At that point, it felt like a terrible stabbing pain whenever I exhaled greatly or laughed too deeply. The pain was so intense at one moment that I hardly moved for fear I would make it worse. I was close to tears. I wanted to cry and call my mom to ask what to do, but I was in a van surrounded by my friends. Not only was it very loud in there, but I also didn’t want them to see my weakness.
When we finally came to a rest stop, I got out, moved very cautiously, and called my mom. As I told her what was going on and how stiff I had become out of fear and pain, she said she thought it may somehow be spinal related. She suggested that I be very careful in my movements during the remainder of the trip and that we should schedule an appointment to see the chiropractor when I returned home. I agreed.
The following days were fairly tricky simply because I didn’t want to injure myself more than I already had. I was nervous when the tour was over and I knew it was time to see the chiropractor because I knew he was going to pop things in my back and that it might hurt. When I arrived at my appointment, I sat in the extremely intense massage chair for about ten minutes so it would loosen the muscles in my back. Then Dr. Laymen brought me to his office and asked me to describe the type of pain I was in, the location of the pain, and when the pain occurred. After I told him my story, he told me it sounded as if I had a rib out of place and that it was a super easy fix. He had me lay down on the bench and he rolled me onto his fist very slowly. At first I heard a few small “pops” and then one very loud “pop.” Dr. Laymen said “Oh good, we got it,” and told me to be very careful not to twist my body when I sat up.
His instructions for me seemed very simple: don’t twist. As it turns out, however, I twist a lot more throughout the day than I thought, starting with just getting in my car. Instead of just putting one foot in and plopping down like I normally do, I had to sit down first and then swing both of my legs in at once. It was extremely hard to remember. Not only that, but I couldn’t really turn around very easily, nor was I supposed to. I’ve realized, the ability to turn around to glance at something or grab something from the back seat of the car without any pain or effort is something I really took for granted.
It was only a few days later when I felt the excruciating stabbing pain in my chest again and went back to the chiropractor almost immediately. We did the same little routine and he sent me on my merry way, only to have the same thing happen again within the week. After about twenty trips to see Dr. Laymen, he finally decided that maybe it wasn’t the fact that I was twisting too much, but that my muscles around the rib were too weak to hold it in place. He recommended a physical therapist to meet with to help strengthen my muscles. I started meeting with him a couple weeks later, in April. We had about two sessions a week for about six weeks and my muscles were finally strong enough that my rib stopped leaving its place.
The whole point of this story was to explain that because of a stupid injury, caused by bad bowling technique and a ball that was too heavy for me, I had to make more than twenty trips to the chiropractor and have several sessions with a physical therapist. I went back through my medical and insurance records to see how much we were billed and how much we had to pay. For the chiropractic visits, we were billed about $925 in total. Thankfully, my parents each have insurance and we were able to bill both. After both had been billed, we were only left with a bill of about $130.41, as far as I can tell. The physical therapy visits, however, were a whole different ballgame. Even though there were fewer visits, the price was substantially higher. We were billed about $2,895, but thanks to the double coverage, we had to pay close to nothing of that. I can’t express how thankful I am to have health insurance. If I didn’t, we would’ve had to pay almost $4,000. Instead, I was able to use my money to buy gas and save for college and my parents could use their money pay their own bills.
Insurance is extraordinarily important. I never would’ve seen a bowling injury coming, or any kind of injury for that matter. Injuries are unpredictable and we should all be prepared in case it happens. I don’t want to be stuck trying to pay for something I can’t afford simply because of some unforeseen accident. I want to be covered for emergencies and the “what-ifs” and I recommend everyone else be too.
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