Growing up my best friend Loretta seemed to miss more school than anyone else. She swears it wasn’t all the time, but lemme tell you – I swear I didn’t see her for at least a week or so one time in seventh grade. Luckily it wasn’t because she was some terminally ill child, just a kid often times with a cold who decided she was better off staying at home playing Ocarina of Time instead of dealing with the hell that is middle school P.E. Not only was her childhood absences the reason I decided she was the go to for this week, but also because a few years ago this girl went and did some serious damage to her leg within a month or so of starting law school. Today she’s all fancy and graduated, studying for the Bar and nice enough to take a break from that grind to talk about dealing with constant colds, gimpy legs and more.
Kendra: Today, do you get regular check ups or just go to the doctor on an as needed basis?
Loretta: I’m not a real adult; I don’t take care of myself as well as I should. I basically go to the doctor when something is very noticeably wrong. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a few years back but don’t take my medication consistently. Since being off my medication, I know that my thyroid is pissed at me, so I’m looking for a doctor in San Diego. Unfortunately, I move so often that I don’t take the time to establish primary care wherever I am. I finally found a doctor I liked in Portland, and now I’m back to square one in San Diego.
Kendra: You’ve pretty much always been covered insurance wise. Does that put you at ease a little more knowing that if something went wrong, you would at least not have to worry about the financial side of getting sick and/or hurt?
Loretta: A little bit, but insurance doesn’t pay for everything. When I hurt my leg a couple years ago, I still had to pay a few thousand dollars out of pocket for hospital bills, physical therapy, and acupuncture. Since I was a full time student when the injury happened, I had to take out extra student loans to cover everything. However, without insurance those bills would have been a lot larger, so I am grateful that my insurance paid for at least a portion of the bills.
Kendra: You just mentioned it, but you took quite the tumble a few years ago and messed up your leg. How much, if any, did that affect your life and if so – how?
Loretta: It changed every aspect of my life. I still don’t have all the feeling back in my foot, my leg/knee get sore easily, and my ankle swells if I don’t prop it up throughout the day. You take mobility for granted until you can’t walk and find yourself asking for help with simple tasks. It really makes you empathize with those that have permanent disabilities.
Generally, a broken fibula isn’t something that immobilizes you for all that long, but I did all sorts of damage to my leg (nerve damage, split tendons, stretched LCL, and large bone bruises). Plus my thyroid problems prolonged the bone mending process for a couple months. I was on crutches for about 6 months and still need surgery at some point on my ankle.
Living in a two-story condo on the 4th floor with no elevator was less than ideal. Likewise, the timing of the injury was unfortunate. It happened during my first year of law school. Luckily, my classmates really looked out for me and helped me make it through the semester. Plus, I had awesome caregivers at home; Aaron and Christina.
Kendra: Do you ever fear when you get sick that it’s more than just a common cold? Because I know after watching House for however many years, one weird sneeze and I get paranoid.
Loretta: Sometimes. Especially if the cold lingers for more than a couple of weeks. Earlier this year I had two “bad” colds within weeks of each other. I finally went to urgent care because I was convinced I had the plague or something. Nope, just a shitty cold.
Kendra: Lastly, what is the biggest high and lowest low of getting sick/hurt as an adult?
Loretta: Biggest high would be getting VIP parking (aka my temporary handicap placard) and wheelchair escorts. Flying with a bum leg sucks because of swelling, but wheelchair escorts to and from the gate are pretty awesome. Going to shows with a bum leg wasn’t too bad, I got a wheelchair ride to my seat at the Moda Center in Portland, and Slims in San Francisco let me sit on a bar stool behind the barricade.
Biggest low is that I can’t walk as far as I used to, it’s getting better but it’s still not the same. My ankle doesn’t work the same, so slopes and going downstairs isn’t too fun. Also, when I worked full time I always used all of my sick time quicker than I earned it.