On our second morning in Ithaca, I woke up early in the morning with a terrible sore throat. I've had strep throat enough times in my life to realize immediately that's what it was. Almost worse than the swollen, painful throat, though, was the thought that we didn't yet have our health insurance figured out so I had no way of seeing a doctor and getting the antibiotics I knew I needed.
Jeremy was already planning on going in to talk with the HR people in his department later that day, so I thought that by the afternoon, we might have the insurance information we needed for me to see a doctor. In the meantime, however, I was in a lot of pain, so I thought I'd call my doctor from back in Tucson. I thought maybe he'd be willing to just call in a prescription over the phone once I explained the extenuating circumstances.
Well, I called his office and explained the situation, but the secretary told me that since I hadn't physically been in to see my doctor in the last 12 months, he would be unable to do a prescription over the phone. I couldn't believe it. So much for general good health being a help to me in this situation.
So I tried calling the Urgent Care doctor who diagnosed strep throat on me a while ago and prescribed antibiotics. This was a long shot, to be sure, but I was already getting desperate. But he explained that as an Urgent Care doctor, he couldn't prescribe anything without seeing me.
Even though we were brand-new in Ithaca and had no established doctor or even so much as a doctor recommendation, I decided that we'd just have to wait until we got our insurance information from Cornell and seek someone out, somehow, as soon as possible that afternoon. Except that when Jeremy went in to the office, it turned out that the only secretary who could help us was out of town. Until Monday.
The situation was just getting worse. Jeremy asked the remaining secretaries if they thought I could go to Urgent Care and get reimbursed later from the insurance company. They said, "we think so, but we're not sure, and don't quote us on that."
Still, it looked like our only option. So I called the local Urgent Care and asked them how much it would cost to have a doctor tell me I needed antibiotics and prescribe them to me, as I suspected would be the case. She wasn't exactly sure, but said it would be at least $200 for the consultation, plus any labs or tests they had to run.
With our recent run-in with American Express fresh in my mind, the last thing I wanted to do was lay out a bunch of money I had no way of being sure I would be reimbursed for. It was around this time that I went into the bedroom, lay down on the bed, and cried. I was sick, I was upset, I was desperate, and I had no idea what to do.
It seemed like such an impossible situation. Here I was, in Ithaca for less than 48 hours, not knowing a soul, certainly not a local doctor, in need of a prescription, without proof of insurance, without even the most basic information about the insurance we did supposedly have, unsure of being reimbursed if I paid out an unspecified number of hundreds of dollars, and there was nothing I could do about it. Oh yeah, and I was in terrible pain.
Well, after crying for a while, I did figure something out, and a few minutes before the pharmacy closed that night, I had my antibiotics (I'll leave it to you to guess what the solution was). By the next morning, I felt about a hundred times better than I had the day before, both in a sore throat sense and an emotional sense.
But you better believe that first thing Monday morning, we're getting our insurance information so that such a freak alignment of awkward circumstances doesn't happen again.