MNR: NO CLICKBAIT NECESSARY
“Health is wealth.” – Origin Unknown
Earlier today, I took my fat ass to the podiatrist to get my doggies taken care of. I had an ingrown situation on one big toe and the other looked like a baby turtle shell (looked that way for years). I’ll spare the in-depth specifics. Just know that I took care of a painful situation that could have grown worse in time. As a diabetic, it was imperative that I did so.
I waited at least a calendar month before I went on Google and sought medical attention. I kept a regiment consisting of Epsom salt foot soakings, additional cleansing with alcohol, and Lotrimin. It got a bit better, but pain continued in one area (enough pain for my tough ass to grow tired of the bullshit). I researched a couple of locations before I decided on Dr. Lauren Grossman, one half of ladyfootdoctor.com. The first doctor I researched didn’t accept my insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. The second doctor I researched had enough negative reviews to raise suspicion, especially being that half of the reviews pertained to medical chicanery, i.e., the office didn’t let a few patients know that it didn’t accept their insurance until they arrived for their initial appointment. Even though the doctor replied to the negative reviews and informed the messengers that the error was due to new staff negligence, it was more than enough for me to look elsewhere. Thankfully, Dr. Grossman handled her handle. She treated the ingrown nail and shaved the other hoof down. I got a couple of ‘scripts and a return appointment set for early August. Thank you, Jesus (exhales).
Shut your trout-mouthed ass up, damn it. I already know that no one gives an incoming Teterboro private jet flying fuck about either of my damn big toes. This praise report wasn’t to bring attention to my Sasquatch hooves, rather, I wanted to use my own personal pain to bring light to a subject that plagues Black men IMO. But before I get to it, come join the campfire. Light that good satin up and take flight. I’ve got a short story to tell.
As a child the hospital was always hostile territory. At one point, my mom was juggling three part-time jobs to put it on the table. God bless Shareon for her work ethic, but three PTs mean no benefits and no insurance. I spent quite a few summers with @iamdjgreen at his childhood crib in Tidewater 2up2down when we were preteens. Even though the Hali is only about 3.5 to the west of Chesapeake, the climates aren’t exactly the same. Anyone who’s ever spent time by a coast knows the climate tends to be different from inland. As an asthmatic, that’s always been an issue for me, an issue that persists to this day. Whenever I travel (except Phoenix & Vegas; I love dry heat), there’s always a bit of time needed for my asthmatic lungs to adjust. Shit, I always seemed to have a wheeze in my chest when OT, and still do to this day. It just so happens that cuzzo’s mom, Aunt Nette, is a RN. Cuzzo is asthmatic too. We literally got the stethoscope to chest treatment daily. My wheeze prompted Auntie to take me to the ER…twice. All asthmatics know the routine: the typical doctor questions, two breathing treatments, a sample inhaler, and a release three hours later (extreme boredom). It was always the same routine when I was home in Jeff, albeit completely different causes (cat dander and Newport smoke). But that one summer in 757, it got so bad that Shareon told me to make sure I didn’t go to the hospital again – no matter what. We didn’t have insurance, and two ER visits were a bitch to pay out of pocket.
Cuzzo’s stepfather’s kid bro Derek, who was a few years older than Green and I, used to stay with us during the summer as well. Derek was (is) cool AF; a real big brother-type. I’ll never forget a couple of stories he told us. The first was about the time as a kid when he stuck a kitchen utensil in the electrical socket and got one hell of a jolt. Even though his dad was worried, even though he was just a kid, he gave Derek the OPTION of whether to go to the ER. The option. I’m not sure; I think Derek opted to go to the ER. But I definitely remember Derek laughing about how his dad NEVER went to see the doctor for ANYTHING. He didn’t believe in it. I eventually adopted the same mantra.
Green let me know YEARS back that Derek’s pop passed. Pop was young. Early 50s. He passed from something preventable with early diagnosis and treatment.
Like I said, the never going to see the doctor mentality was my shit for a long time. Then I fell into the blessing of full-time employment and benefits about 14 years back. For the first time in my life, I could go see the doctor without killing my pockets. I took advantage. I found out I was diabetic, among other things. I also found out I had severe sleep apnea (some of y’all need to get the initial sleep study done, it may save your life). I began to treat my illnesses, for the most part. I was at times stubborn about taking a pill or sleeping with the CPAP here and there, but I was handling my handle. Unfortunately, I lost my benefits a few years later due to my position being outsourced. And honestly, I was in my feelings about being thrown away by the EPSD for so long that my anger began to consume me. For some dumbass reason, I felt that self-neglect was the only way to deal with my misfortune. I also used what I felt was the lack of sufficient funding to pay for private healthcare as a reason to abstain from medical coverage. In my warped mind, I felt that $200 a month was way too much to pay to “maybe” have to see a doctor once a year. I averaged 0.8 colds a year and zero serious or ER worthy type concerns. Shit, I was invincible if you let me tell it, even if my pockets weren’t.
At the same time, Shareon’s health was fading. I lost myself in my worry concerning her downward spiral. I didn’t tap back into self after she passed. She left me plenty of money to fuel all of my vices: food, drugs, alcohol, and women. I truly lived a hood Rockstar lifestyle for a couple of years for the first time since I was a fulltime 100 Blocks hustler fifteen years prior. I kept ignoring my health, even though I noticed my urine smelled like Honey Smacks every time I pissed. Even though I’d have to wake up in the middle of the night to piss, something I NEVER had to do before. Trips to the bathroom became races not to piss myself. The love below was also off-track (three grimace emojis). Then in late 2019, I noticed that my breath always seemed to be a bit short. I’d go from 500 level of the DMAE South Building down to the caf with my boys and be out of breath after walking back up ONE flight of stairs. Damn it, man. I know I’m a fat ass, but this was ridiculous. I remember a late November fire drill where I felt like I was about to pass out from not being able to breathe after walking to the baseball field. I couldn’t catch my breath. That entailed walking downstairs and walking on flat earth. There were no inclines. So, imagine what it was like going back inside. I had to play it off at the stairwell and let EVERYONE go ahead of me because I knew my issue would be noticeable. Leaving school every afternoon was also crazy. I always had to briefly pause and use my inhaler while walking to my coworker Aniyah’s SUV (congrats on baby Kairo). That’s not a long distance, by any means. But it was October; I rationalized that it was my asthma, induced by the change of seasons. At home, my chest felt funny when I’d walk upstairs. I knew something was wrong, but I continued to ignore the blatant warning signs. And then 1.1.2020 happened.
Everything came crashing down on New Year’s Day. I barely slept the night before. I finally admitted to myself that I needed to seek medical attention. I attempted to shower but couldn’t breathe – at all. After all, Mary Warren used to tell me as a child to never get caught in an ER with dirty underwear on. I ended up butt naked on the toilet. I called Brandi. My baby came and put socks on my aforementioned crusty feet and drawz on my fat ass. Brandi and my sis Rycki helped me down to the ambulance. I ended up spending two weeks in Englewood Hospital after damn near dying from a pulmonary embolism (massive blood clots in the chest and left leg). My blood sugar was also north of 450. I’m not too proud to admit that my no insurance having ass was blessed to be eligible for emergency MEDICAID, covering my ENTIRE hospital stay and three months afterward. I didn’t pay a cent for meds.
Take a moment to fully ingest everything you just read. I damn near died in my early 40s, all because I was too stubborn and thrifty to purchase health insurance. I found every excuse in the book to avoid it. I neglected my health for YEARS. Some of the damage done is irreversible. That’s 100% my fault. I have to live with it. But the key word is LIVE. I’m blessed to still be here. Yeah, I had to cut the alcohol, donuts, bagels, and green leafy vegetables out, but I’m still here. Health is wealth, Black men. Please don’t ignore it. Please go to the doctor. Check up on your health. Ain’t no glory or reward in being too tough to go get your health checked on. Unless you hold an early grave in that type of esteem. Go on ‘head and marinate on that. One love.
tymonday.com; @tymonday on Twitter & IG
crewunb.com; @crewunB on Twitter & @theunbearablescrew on IG
MNR: The Big Fella