Madelyne D

It was early in the evening on October 31st, 2005 when we were busy preparing our costumes for Halloween.  The crisp orange leaves outside whirled in the wind and gently landed back into their place. Our jack-o-lanterns could be spied by the window, flooded with light on the inside and casting an orange illumination. My brother complained that he didn’t want to wear a coat because it would cover up his costume, but my dad politely insisted. Days prior we had been in the process of moving into my childhood home and I remember feeling grateful that we didn’t have to unpack today and could go trick-or-treating.  As we were on our way out the door, the telephone rang.  The caller id was stated an unknown and although my mom typically didn’t answer those call, on this night she did.

This happened 11 years ago, yet I can clearly remember the day because of what happened next. My mom froze when she heard what had happened. The call was Black Hills Medical Center. My grandmother had a ruptured brain aneurysm and was being life-flighted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Her brain was bleeding and they couldn’t tell my mom if she was going to be okay or if she was going live through the next few hours. They just told her she needed to get there as soon as she could.

My mom left as soon as she could and as she drove 4 hours to Seattle, the doctors stopped the bleeding. My grandmother stayed in the neuro ICU for 26 days. I recall not seeing my mom for days at a time because she stayed in the hospital waiting room for days in a row.  The stroke has had long-term effects for my grandmother that she still deals with to this day. She is very forgetful and still sometimes cannot speak. Although she knows what she is trying to say, the words just won’t come out. Other times, her arm or hand becomes completely numb and won’t move or she becomes very jittery at times.  A home health care aide had to come in for a few weeks to do speech, physical, and occupational therapy. We could tell she was different, but we didn’t love her any less. She had recovered well and we were relieved to have her back again.

Looking back on this experience, it is much more serious than I ever imagined at the time. I was only 6 when this happened, and didn’t have a great understanding of what a brain aneurysm was. I can now understand the depth of what had happened and appreciate those who had helped her. During the recovery process, it isn’t just about the physical or mental recovery. She needed to recover her relationships, now that she had forgotten a lot about who she was and who other people were, and she needed to recover financially. This is where her insurance came in and helped our family.

The insurance covered a lot of the cost and this helped her to get back on her feet. My grandmother had been a nurse but could no longer work like she use to and needed a lot of time to recover. She lived alone and was divorced so the only income that she had was the income she made at her job. Without her insurance, she may have never been able to financially recover. Health insurance assured that she got the help that she needed and it allowed her to stress less about how much this was costing her and focus on recovering.

This stroke had already cost her speech, fine motor skills, and her job. But without her insurance it could have cost her a lot more. If she had not had insurance, she probably would still be paying on her medical expenses from over a decade ago. Or worse yet, she could have had to file medical bankruptcy. The ICU for one day alone was over $6,000. A month of being in the ICU would have been more than she made in a year.

It is important for everyone to have insurance. Although some might not see the benefit of having insurance because they have not experienced a catastrophic event yet, I can appreciate that I learned from a young age that insurance is essential. You can’t predict when something tragic is going to happen. My grandmother having a stroke was unexpected and expensive.  Yet, a similar event can happen to anyone at any given time. It isn’t about if something is going to happen, it’s about when. When it does happen for me, I know that I have insurance to help get me through it. My loved ones and I are protected in case something out of our control happens, which is why insurance is important to me.

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