Where I Tally It Up and Ruin Some Socks

On Tuesday I trotted myself back to the doctor – not my regular one, of course, because God forbid my actual PCP see me, but another physician in her practice.  A MALE doctor, in fact, which I normally refuse to see unless a life threatening situation happens, because (gross gender assumption to follow) every male doctor I’ve had has been totally condescending and egotistical.  This one did not disappoint, though he did tell me I could take off the stupid mask they made me wear because I was coughing so much (and, incidentally, sitting under a big sign that said PLEASE NOTIFY US IF YOU HAVE TRAVELED TO AFRICA RECENTLY.)

In five minutes I was diagnosed with bronchitis and lectured about how antibiotics would not be effective as it is viral, blah blah blah.  Instead he wrote me a prescription for an inhaler and some “cough pills”, saying that these pills don’t work for some people so if they don’t work for me, just call back and he’ll give me the other kind.  You know, the kind with CODEINE that actually MAKE YOU SLEEP.


And then he proceeded to suggest that I try rubbing Vick’s vapo-rub on my feet to help my bad cough.

(Insert my patented “you have got to be kidding” look on my face.)

Indeed, he insisted.  Apparently, Vicks on your feet is a thing, except as Dr. Genius explained you have to wear socks because otherwise the Vick’s gets everywhere and you can slip and fall.  He said that he himself has never tried it because he hasn’t yet had bronchitis, at which point he knocked superstitiously on the wall (sheetrock, not wood, by the way).

I thought, I really need to find a new doctor.


I’m lucky.  I have excellent health insurance and plenty of sick days thanks to my employer.  I also have a health savings account, though at the moment it cannot be accessed because the company was bought and we’re in a transition period.  Because I have to hang onto my receipts to get reimbursed, as opposed to using my health savings account card, I was able to see approximately how much this stupid cold had cost me:

CVS Minute Clinic Co-Pay                                                         $25

OTC Medicine (Robitussin, Mucinex)                                      $15

Puffs Plus                                                                                        $2.50

Doctor Office Visit Co-Pay                                                          $25

Inhaler (after insurance)                                                              $30

“Cough pills” (benzonatate)                                                         $6

                                                          Total                                        $103.50

It’s cost me over $100 for what amounts to a bad cold that turned into bronchitis.  In retrospect I should have skipped the CVS clinic visit, but at the time I was convinced I had a sinus infection and was just in no shape whatsoever to drive 45 minutes to my doctor’s office (assuming I could have been seen).  Now, I’ll get reimbursed for almost everything out of my health savings account (except for the OTC and tissues) — but my point is, being sick is expensive.  The sort of expensive many people can’t afford.  The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, so for people making that it would take them 14 hours of work — almost two full days — to pay for being sick.

Let that sink in for a few minutes.


Of course the stupid “cough pills” don’t work, and I’ve had two more nights of virtually no sleep.  (I have utterly no idea how I am functioning, let alone going to work.  Typically I need 9 hours of sleep to just find the coffee pot.)  I called the doctor’s office this morning and they said, “we’ll call you back”.  That was 13 hours ago.  Out of desperation, I hauled out the Vick’s and an old pair of socks.

Still coughing.


About Lori Allen Writes

Lori is plotting to take over the world one essay, one quilt, and one hand knit sock at a time.
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