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The American Healthcare System Defeated Me
America: 1. Me: 0.
America defeated me.
More specifically, the American healthcare system defeated me.
After three weeks of dedicating most of my time to coming up with a solution for my stupid back and stupid leg, I realised no solution was coming. I would need to fly 12 hours to New Zealand.
And at 6am this morning, I arrived.
My friend left this for me in the spare room I’m staying in — my favourite kiwi delicacies.
Webworm isn’t morphing into a “David’s health” newsletter — but this place feels like a community, and part of the deal is letting you know what’s going on with me.
Webworm will continue as normal, I just wanted you to know I’ll be in New Zealand for a bit — a month or two — sorting this out.
I am grateful, in a way, that I directly glimpsed the two very different worlds that exist in America: One for the monied, and one for the rest.
When I paid for treatment directly, I got it quickly — and it was good. The best doctors, the quickest results. But that option ran out. The reality was it would be $17,000 for the procedure, plus the risk of anything “going wrong”, which I’d pay for too. For example, every extra night in a hospital bed would be $8000. I can’t do that.
The other option: Using the cheap health insurance I got when I first moved over there. It turns out $350 a month doesn’t get you very much. It got me to the guy I called Dr Death — the 80 year old orthopedic surgeon who wouldn’t look me in the eye, and scoffed when I asked if there were other options. I spent weeks trying to find a second opinion in-network, but was defeated when I realised the list of surgeons approved by my insurance provider didn’t match with the list of surgeons approved by my doctor’s office.
There was no way to win the game — it’s rigged.
And this is speaking as someone incredibly privileged. Someone who could commit hours a day to phone calls, emails and appointments. Someone who didn’t have kids to feed. Someone who had a flexible job that allowed them the time. Someone who could afford at least some kind of shitty insurance in the first place. Someone who was able to fly to New Zealand when shit didn’t work out.
The American healthcare system is a broken wreck — and I was lucky enough to be able to literally fly away from it.
It’s not perfect: 12 hours on a plane wasn’t great for the back, but Air New Zealand was incredibly supportive. I have work and projects and dreams and boring life admin in America, and so now those have a “hold” on them. Christ, ‘dreams’ sounds so American doesn’t it, but fuckit, I do!
But those are small things to moan about when you line it up with the benefits of healthcare in New Zealand. Which I know is far from perfect… but lords, I’d take it over America.
I won’t bore you with all the details of what happens — but will update you from time to time. Webworm will continue as per usual. As I said earlier, it’s not the “David’s Back And Leg” newsletter.
A few of you asked if I needed a GoFundMe or anything, and while that is incredibly kind, I am okay. Really! I work hard and am lucky to be just fine.
If anything — just spread the word about Webworm. Send people to the site — https://www.webworm.co. Browse this list of some of my favourite stories, and if you see one a friend might like, send them the link. Donate a sub for someone who can’t afford it if you like.
New people signing up enables me to do what I do. With no advertising, this thing’s just word of mouth, babyyyy.
Okay — have a beautiful rest of the weekend. It’s raining like crazy in New Zealand right now. And I kinda love that.
The air smells fresh.
PS: Before I go, the last thing I paid for in America — a nerve test, to see how my nerves were coping whilst being crunched in my spinal column:
I was prodded with and poked, and little bolts of electricity were sent down my leg. I got the neurologist’s report, which I will hand onto my doctor here in Aotearoa. “Diminished recruitment” and “decreased interference pattern” doesn’t sound great, but what would I know? Those terms sound made-up to me anyway.