The decision to go PRN as a nurse (meaning I worked 4 shifts a month), and ultimately step away from the bedside, wasn’t an easy one. If you missed that blog about why I chose to step away you can find it in my nursing category. But today, I don’t want to talk about why I stepped away. I want to focus on one of the realities I had to work through when I made that decision.
Obviously, there were a lot of factors that went into that decision but part of the reality of being self-employed is not having benefits provided. You know that you’re an adult when you have to start thinking of these things LOL. But in all seriousness, it was something that weighed heavily on my mind. I knew that not having things like health insurance was something not to be taken lightly. Most of us will never need major medical care, we’re young and healthy, but it only takes for something to happen one time for you to wish you had it. I’m not trying to be morbid here, but that is just the reality. Working as an ICU nurse, I learned that anything can happen to anyone. And four years ago, I was one of those people that something happened to.
Four years ago, I had a vasovagal syncope episode at work. What does that mean? My vagal nerve (that helps regulate your heart rate and blood pressure) was inappropriately triggered, which caused me to faint. It’s actually the most common cause of unexplained fainting episodes. They started happening a few years prior but I always had time to sit down when I started to feel lightheaded. So they were scary, but there wasn’t any major harm that came from them. Until one night when I was working at the hospital.
I was in a patient’s room, and had an episode. Except this time I didn’t feel it coming on. I fainted, and landed right on my face. When I woke up, I was so disoriented and I had no idea what happened. I then realized that I was on the floor, and I could feel pieces of my teeth floating around in my mouth. I started to realize that I had an episode but beyond that I wasn’t really processing anything else. Fortunately, I was at work, at my ICU, when it happened, and I had doctors and nurses all around me in a matter of seconds.
I was brought down to the ED (emergency department) and I wasn’t comfortable by any means, but I wasn’t in the amount of pain that you would have expected given what they were about to tell me. I ended up having a huge gash right under my chin, but aside from that and some broken teeth I didn’t think things were “that” bad. Honestly, looking back I was probably in shock. Shortly after, I was told that I had one of the worst jaw fractures possible. I had fractured my jaw in 3 places and it would require them to put in several permanent screws and plates, and wire my jaw shut for 6 weeks. I remember kind of sitting there is disbelief but I then remember thinking, well what choice do I have? This just is what it is. The only option I have is to just move forward.
I was actually really lucky that night. One because I had one of the most renowned oral and maxillofacial trauma surgeons, and if you didn’t know what happened, today you would probably have no idea that they told me that usually as a result of this fracture you would have permanent jaw pain, asymmetry, and possible nerve damage. I notice a slight asymmetry when I smile but that’s it. I don’t have any pain, discomfort or nerve damage. The other blessing was my insurance. Because of my insurance, I paid less than $1,000 in medical bills for something that was over $500,000. Now, unfortunately my dental insurance was a different story since I needed multiple root canals, several implants, etc. But, my point is, health insurance is IMPORTANT. You never know what can happen to you.
You can now see why having health insurance weighed so heavily on my mind when leaving the bedside. Having hundreds of thousands in medical bills is life-altering. So not having health insurance was not an option to me. Now that I am self-employed, we pay for health insurance out of pocket and it costs over 50% each month of what our mortgage costs! The sad thing though, is that I’m still eternally grateful because we are lucky to be in a position where we can afford that. But honestly, that’s just not acceptable. Healthcare should not be a luxury, it’s a human right. That is why things like the Affordable Care Act were put into place.
This is exactly why I chose to partner with Piedmont Rising and bring awareness to the state of healthcare right now in North Carolina. Right now, Senator Thom Tillis has voted at least seven times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to allow insurance companies to charge people over the age of 50 5x what they currently pay for insurance, and discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Guys, everyone has the right and should have the ability to have health insurance. Whether you’re self-employed, retired, work for a Fortune 500 company, it is a human right. No one should have to choose whether they pay for their mortgage over health insurance. No one should have to forgo their prescription medications because they can’t afford it. No one should be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
As someone who has needed major medical coverage, as a nurse who has seen terrible things happen to seemingly healthy people, as a daughter and sister of two family members who have autoimmune diseases, trying to strip people of their right to healthcare is just not acceptable especially when someone is doing everything in their power to take care of themselves in the first place. Some things in life are just not in our control. But it is within our power to call on our elected leaders like Senator Thom Tillis to do better, and to protect our health care.
Certain issues, like healthcare, should just be a right to someone. It’s sad to me that this is even a political issue. What if you own your own business and you were in a car accident tomorrow? What if your child developed asthma or diabetes? What if your parents became sick and need major coverage? Senator Thom Tillis is actively voting to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, allow insurance companies to charge people over 50 5x what they currently pay, and allow insurance companies to discriminate against those those with pre-existing conditions.
Having this platform, it is part of my responsibility to draw awareness to issues like this happening (in North Carolina), and help us all become more educated when it comes to who is representing our state. I’m happy to continue the conversation below in the comments and would love to hear your thoughts on this, or if you’ve ever experienced anything with this topic.
This post is sponsored by Piedmont Rising. All opinions and experiences are my own.