Dakota D

It was another negative something degree Sunday morning and the sun hadn’t even started to rise yet. I was on my way to the barn to do chores. I stopped for a cappuccino on my way and ate some left over trail mix for breakfast. I slid open the barn door and was greeted with five eager neighs. It was time for their breakfast. The horses kicked their feet at the walls as I walked by with their specially mixed grains. As they munched, I filled the hay bins in their paddocks, shuffling my feet through the snow, trying to avoid the icy patches, and ignoring the constant dull pain from my ankle. Breakfast was done before I shuffled my way back inside and they were standing eagerly waiting to be brought out. The first to go was a big draft horse named Dance. She was a little pushy, but we made it out past the first gate and almost to the second. Right as we approached her paddock my foot hit a little mound in the ground, and like that, I was sitting in a pile of snow with a throbbing ankle, my hand covered in manure, and a horse that just stared at me with shocked eyes.

I got back up, tried to clean my hand in the snow, and continue walking, using the horse as a crutch to lean on. I immediately felt frustrated. I strived on this life, the early barn chores, the hard work with minimum pay, the moments of bliss, the smell of the hay. It made me happy because I was passionate about it, but how was I supposed to continue doing it if I couldn’t manage to walk on uneven ground? I felt like I hadn’t done anything to deserve such an obstacle. I had been told that everyone has joint pains, it was just a part of life apparently.

It was that day that I realized that this “little problem” of mine was no longer so little. It effected my work, my walk, my school, and pretty much just about everything. I did the rest of chores at a slow limp that day and that afternoon I looked for doctors. I had had enough of being limited by a problem joint. I was eighteen and on track to college, how was I supposed to pursue a lifetime career of working with large animals if I couldn’t even be sure on my feet?

Luckily for me, I had just gotten a new health insurance plan that had a good string of orthopedic surgeons. The first was an old German man who looked at me suspiciously as I walked in for my first appointment. He then decided to rant to me about how “little joint pains” were normal for those who are starting to get older. Eventually, I persuaded him to get an MRI and once he did, it was the start of a long line of doctors. One referral to the next. It took almost a year for me to get clear answers, but once I did, I was not surprised that it in fact was not “a little problem” at all. It was actually a pretty big problem. They operated on me in May of 2016 and was lucky enough to find an ankle reconstruction specialist who knew exactly what he was doing.

If it weren’t for the medical insurance my mother bought me, I would have never been able to see such amazing surgeons and eventually find my way to the right one. The copays were in my college student budget, and the price of my surgery will easily be paid off thanks to my insurance. Thanks to my insurance I will be able to go back to school in August and not break out in tears after walking home from class. Thanks to my insurance I will be able to go out dancing with my friends and bounce around all night with them. Thanks to my insurance I will be able to walk whatever horse I’d like in whatever weather conditions.

Insurance is important to me because it has helped me fix my life. My monthly payment is a small price to pay for getting my life back. Insurance has allowed me to have a chance at succeeding in the industry I am studying to go into. I would have never been able to afford my surgery, or even spend a moment with any of those surgeons, if it weren’t for my insurance. My insurance leveled the playing field for me so I can continue to do meaningful work, while always being on my feet.

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