Healthcare Scare for the Physically Disabled

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez3 Comments

As a full time teacher, I am blessed to have medical insurance. But there was a time when any medical needs had to be through the government. Basically, I was at the mercy of Uncle Sam.

One time a toothache that felt like someone had stepped on my brittle bone jaw needed serious dental work. At the time, I was receiving government assistance. I found out that once I turned 18 years of age, dental medical coverage was not included with medicare or medicaid.

My only option was the county hospital which required poor people like myself to be there on a certain day at a certain time for a first come first serve appointment. I was there at the crack of dawn. No lie!

Since I used paratransit to transport me there, I made sure to give myself enough time before the clinic opened. I was so naive into thinking that there couldn’t be that many people seeking a dentist. Unfortunately, half of Miami was already there ahead of me. I thought I would never see a dentist and my head was spinning like a flying saucer.

If it couldn’t get worse, I was instructed to get on a line to see if I qualified for this free dental work. Seriously, if I could have afforded a dentist, why would I be there?

Once I got my little blue plastic card, which is a waste of a card for a one time use, I went on another line to wait for a dentist.

Finally, my name was called. While I am petrified of going to see dentists with their eagerness to say open wide and prick me with a long, pointy, scary needle, it was nothing compared to the fear I felt when I was told that I would be seen by student dentists!

Yes, that’s right. These dentists were going to use me as a real guinea pig. Better yet, I was tiny and in a wheelchair with a brittle bone disease that affected my teeth! You couldn’t get that in a text book!

I sat in the dentist chair and stared back at all of these wanna be dentists who stared down at me. I was told that the tooth had to come out.

What a relief! If these guys thought they had to work on the tooth I might come out with no teeth at all.

One of them shot me up with Novacaine. Unfortunately, I could still feel the tooth, the gums and the pain. They did it several more times. Still, no numbness.

They put their studious heads together and decided to call the head dentist. After he explained to the happy students that this was a good time to realize that someone with my disability might need more than the usual person because of the lack of something or other. I don’t think he knew what he was talking about that day. But he did tell me that this was unusual because of my small body I had already received enough novacaine to put a grown man down. I apologized for not suiting his needs.

He decided to give me the next shot. Lo and behold, I was numb. Then, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. He used his finger to see if my tooth was wobbly and the tooth came out by itself! Just like that!

I left with major dizziness and I could barely talk. But I knew that I would no longer have pain. I left feeling as if I owed that man my life.

But once I got home and thought about the day, I was angry and resentful. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t have insurance. I wanted to work. I wanted to pay my own bills. I wanted a chance to be a grumbling taxpayer. But I wasn’t.

Although, some people like myself will be fortunate enough to have a job that gives health insurance, others will never be able to work because of their disability.

Should they suffer? Should they be forced to stay in their beds without any necessary medical attention? Where is the humanity?

Don’t government officials realize that these services help us to become productive citizens? If it weren’t for the services that I used before I had a job, life would have been much more difficult and frustrating.

How many people with disabilities are struggling to become independent people with medical needs that will be cut or eliminated?

Does the government prefer to turn a blind eye on the needs of a minority who never asked to be in this position in the first place?

When we, as a society, ignore the basic needs of humans, we can all consider ourselves emotionally CRIPPLED!

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  1. I pray that the healthcare plan proposed by President Obama does not become law until it is clearly debated. A reform as big as this one requires as thought as we can afford.

  2. I feel that the American public has been duped, lied to and forced into having a health care system that will hurt not help people with disabilities. I pray that this can be turned around.

  3. Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry that you had to experience this. Honestly, I have yet to find a doctor’s office that is “TRULY ADA COMPLIANT” here in San Antonio, Texas and have a huge investigation under works at this time to resolve the issue.

    We should all remember to use these resources:
    Your state Medical Review Board
    Office of Civil Rights – so you know, it’s against ADA regulations for a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office to deny you medical treatments simply because they do not have the necessary accessible tables needed for those who can not stand to get up on said treatment tables. Keep up the great work with your site, dearest! You are spreading important information. Oh and do you not just love those dumbfounded looks when you ask, “um…. how am I supposed to get up on that table?” Oh and here’s another favorite (NOT) my ignorant PAIN treatment doctor pulls out a stepping stool and says with a totally ignorant look, “why don’t you just use this and step up onto the table?” heavy sigh… and they are the “normal” ones! Go figure! right?

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