While most women look back on their wedding day and consider it to be one of the best days of their lives, l look back at my wedding day and remember how much I didn’t want to be there. I honestly don’t remember much of the day. I was physically there but not emotionally present. I know, you are probably thinking, “Why did you get married then?” Well, I wanted to get married, I love my then-fiancé, and I knew I wanted to be with my husband for the rest of my life. However, I knew that if I were to get married, not only would I have to give up my last name, but I would have to give up my medical insurance.
Before I said, “I Do,” I had the “Bentley” of medical insurance. I gave up that Bentley for a Toyota Corolla. The Bentley was luxurious—I could go virtually anywhere, didn’t need to ask permission to guide my care, and was given a better bedside manner. There are many downfalls to owning a Bentley (PPO insurance), but we’ll address those later.
Driving a Corolla (HMO insurance) is a whole new ball game. While it is a very reliable vehicle, it doesn’t offer more than a safe ride. The HMO plan that I now have plays strictly by the book—the doctors are heavily ruled and regulated by strict policies, and it’s almost as if they are afraid to practice medicine or make an actual diagnosis. Instead of individualized treatment plans, I am always given a printout of generalized symptoms and how to “pet” my problems along (HMO plans aren’t all bad, but I’ll get to that later). Although I freely gave up my Bentley in exchange for a Corolla—all for the sake of love—it felt like the repo man had come and taken away my luxurious Bentley, and, sadly, I blamed my husband for it.
When my care switched to this HMO system, I was met with a lot of challenges and red-tape. With my medical history containing numerous previous surgeries, doctors were baffled as to how to treat me. I was denied all the pain meds that I was previously prescribed, denied any diagnostic imaging, and their version of physical therapy was not aggressive—it was geared more towards keeping an elderly person able to walk to their mailbox, instead of a 20-something trying to get active again. I was living in pain every day and as frustrating as that already was, having to deal with a one-size-fits-all medical plan, made it even worse and wreaked havoc on our marriage.
While all our problems could not be blamed solely on medical insurance, it was the cause of a lot of our conflict. My husband did not understand the physical pain I was carrying; nor did he understand the emotional tug-of-war that I felt dealing with a healthcare system that was failing me. Truthfully speaking, the problem wasn’t so much in his lack of understanding but it was in my inability to properly communicate to him my needs.
After going back and forth to the doctor, I would often come home and UNLOAD on my husband. In my mind, it was his fault that I had to deal with such a basic standard of healthcare. Of course, it was my decision to marry him, but I needed someone to blame. As time passed, I grew more and more resentful of him. It had gotten to a point that not a day went by that I was not complaining to him or blaming him about my health and healthcare. It didn’t take long for us to grow apart when neither of us was focusing on building our relationship. I was focused on my medical needs and, understandably, he completely checked out. There were many nights that I contemplated divorce because I felt that I needed to focus on myself. I felt he was the problem because he had such whack health insurance.
The turning point was when I had gotten my knee replaced later that year (lying in bed gives you plenty of time to think). As my husband lovingly waited on me hand and foot, I realized that from the day I said “I Do” I never made our marriage a priority. I was so focused on the way the doctors made me feel that it overshadowed the way my husband made me feel. Not having my “Bentley” did cause some financial and health issues, but I would have suffered many more losses if I had not downgraded to that Corolla. Driving a Corolla made me take control of my health—it forced me to learn about my body instead of waiting for instruction from a doctor.
As uneasy as I felt on my wedding day, if I hadn’t walked down that aisle, I would have lost out on spending my life with someone who saw strength in me when all I saw were my physical shortcomings. And, above all, if I hadn’t chosen love, I would have lost out on our greatest adventure together…parenthood.