"Don't touch a single thing."
Words from my mouth upon entering the doctor's office for my children's annual check ups.
The whole "state of fear" that our media and government has got us in has jaded me, altered my way of thinking, changed me forever. I no longer leave the house without a hefty supply of hand sanitizer in my purse. I check the kids' backpacks to make sure they have plenty of it too and, after reminding them not to lick their hands after using it (you'll get drunk!), I remind them to use it liberally. As in, every time you touch anything.
Since our pediatrician shares a space with the walk-in clinic, I was especially freaked out. I scanned the room for the most germ-free looking place to wait and sent the kids there, instructing them not to even breathe until I'd checked them in. I was happy to see that the staff had removed the gigantic toy (aka hot germy mess) that used to take up most of the floor space in the waiting area due to "that bad flu that's going around." At least that's what I overheard the receptionist telling a coughing and jumping young girl while we were waiting. I just prayed she didn't cough in our direction.
I looked people over ten times as they came through the door.
Is that person feverish?
Does that one have a cough?
Is that one wearing a mask and if so, why?
Are we all going to die?
Since when did bringing my kids to their check ups become such a terrifying experience?
Besides the whole H1N1 buzz in the air, this doctor's visit was much difference than previous ones. And I'm beginning to worry about the state of health care in this country, even though if you'd asked me before I would have told you that I had nothing to worry about. I've been shielded thus far from a generous health plan with low co-pays and prescription costs. We've had virtually everything paid for, every procedure, every test, everything. Our kids get seen as soon as needed and it's never been a problem making sure that they receive the best care available...until now.
"Welcome to the public option." Our doctor said to me when he told us they had no seasonal flu vaccine.
I could tell this bothered him. He explained that since the government took doses of the regular seasonal flu vaccine out to make the H1N1, that there were less doses available than prior years, with a visible concern I'd never before seen on his face - and he's been our pediatrician for as long as I've been a mother, almost 13 years. He assured us that his office was told they'd have it in late November, and to just call and we'd be able to get it then. But you could tell that this year, unlike any of the years before, was taking a toll on him, and not just because he was another year older - but because things are changing.
And for the first time, I'm a little scared.
I'm scared that even though we currently have great, super, awesome and fantastic coverage, that's all going to change. It's hard to keep up on the specifics of each new health plan congress is proposing and now, hearing that they want to keep themselves "exempt" from the current one on the table, I'm a little concerned. Okay, I'm a lot concerned.
If it's not good enough for congress, how can it be good enough for my children? And your children? The their children?
And this isn't just about not being able to get a seasonal flu vaccine, it's about so much more. What happens when they can't see my kids when it's really needed? What happens when I need to go to the doctor and can't get an appointment? What happens if my grandmother can't get the protection she needs or my parents can't get coverage after they retire?