Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"miscarriage" of justice

I was working in Miami, Florida. We had just moved there and had actually been there less than 2 weeks, so I didn't know where anything was. I was completely overwhelmed by the size of the city compared to my hometown of Logan, WV. What was worse than the size of the town was the awful atmosphere of crime which hung over the area where I lived even though I was in a supposedly nice area. At the local Winn Dixie supermarket there was an armed guard at every cash register. Once I went to KFC and the girl was so mean I was happy to get out of there with my life...much less a bucket of chicken.

We moved into a studio apartment (complete with murphy bed which I kind of thought was cool since I had never seen one). It was $750 a month and after the deposits I had forked out $1500 which was a phenomenal amount of money back in 1990. I had never rented a place over $300 a month in my life before then. We had been there for two weeks.

I woke up one morning bleeding. I was one day short of being 10 weeks pregnant. I didn't know where any doctors were yet. I didn't know where any hospitals were either. I asked a couple of aquaintances and they tried to tell me where the hospitals were and Bobby and I set out for one of them.

I found one hospital in the middle of intersecting sections of interstate. I went in and told them I was 10 weeks pregnant and bleeding. Once they found out I didn't have insurance they didn't want to see me. I told them I would pay cash. I had always paid cash and I had excellent credit. They took my blood pressure, told me I was fine and I could go home. The nurse also told me if I had any problems to go to another hospital. They would not see me because I wasn't an emergency case. As I walked away I turned to see the nurse pitching my file into the trash. Therefore there was no record of my being at their hospital.

By this time I was cramping with the bleeding. I found an obstetricians office. They refused to see me even though I offered to pay them $100 on the spot and I could cover the rest. I begged the nurse to let me see the doctor and she still refused. A woman in the waiting room followed me into the hallway and told me about a maternity hospital that would see me. I was grateful for her help.

I went to the maternity hospital. They refused to see me as well. They did offer to call me an ambulance and transport me to another hospital. I refused the ambulance and Bobby drove me to that hospital. It was Jackson Memorial Hospital. They told me it would be a 10 to 12 hour wait. The waiting room was packed. I left.

In the elevator on the way back to the parking lot was a very pregnant lady. As I stood there waiting to get to my floor I could see her baby moving in her belly. I had never witnessed such a thing before and all I could think of was "my baby's dying and her's is living." It was very upsetting but of course I didn't let her know that.

On the way home I saw another obstrician's office. We stopped there. It was the swankiest doctor's office I had ever been in. There was a fountain in the waiting room and the furnishings were obviously high end. When I explained my situation to the nurse she told me "of course the doctor will see you. He is in surgery right now, but I want you to go home, put your feet up and don't get out of bed. We will see you first thing in the morning."

So that's what I did.

In the middle of the night I woke up. I was dizzy and blood was gushing from me like a faucet. I was so weak that I was on the verge of passing out. Bobby kept me concious and wanted to take me to the hospital but I thought they would refuse to see me again. As I sat on the commode with the blood pouring from me I had a miscarriage. At one point I am sure that I saw a tiny, inch long umbilical cord in the commode.

By morning it was over. Miami was celebrating a visit from Nelson Mandela and my baby had died because I couldn't get medical help. I can't tell you the depth of the despair that I sank to. I made Bobby pack up and leave. We went and spent 2 very resful weeks on the beach in Melbourne, Florida. I tried to go back to work 2 weeks later. I couldn't. I tried to go back to work 6 weeks later - I still couldn't.

I tried to get into a doctor's office. Nobody would see me because I didn't have insurance. Finally I called a doctor's office and I lied and said I needed a routine pap smear. When he came into the office to check me out I poured my heart out to him. He was quite distressed because he could tell I had a miscarriage with no medical care and he was worried about complications.

There were complications. I had to have 2 operations and it took about 10 months for me to go back to work. I paid for both operations out of my pocket - just as I would have paid the first hospital if they would have seen me to begin with. Then I probably would have still lost the baby but I would have received the care I needed and I wouldn't have needed 2 operations and I wouldn't have lost 10 months of work.

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