Was it broken? I analyzed the chafed skin on my fingers and my soiled palm after the fall, but did not spot any visible bone protrusion points. It was now nearly twenty minutes after I had kicked the muddy soccer ball down the field and clumsily slid on the wet grass, but my entire right hand continued to throb wildly. Less than amused and clearly unaware of the severity of my injury, my only thoughts were of my ruined high school Senior Week evening plans. After all, the last thing I had expected was for my hand to harshly stab into the fleshy ground to break a minor fall. Even so, I ignored the pounding pain quite calmly and continued on with my day, even driving myself home with minimal struggles. I began to question the severity of the injury as I started to feel excruciating pain through the numbing of the ice that I had been pressing against it for hours. Regardless, I thought, this is not something a good night of sleep can’t fix.
Is it broken? The same question ran through my head the minute I had woken up the next day. I slowly looked down, only to see an enormous purple and swollen balloon of what vaguely resembled my hand. After consulting with my mother, it was clear that a doctor’s visit was inevitable at this point. We sped towards the urgent care center at my local hospital, and after a twenty-minute wait, I was lead in to meet my doctor. My doctor appeared to be an upset woman with more than enough attitude for an entire village. She was impatient with her procedure and rushed in her diagnosis, which was enough to make me feel that this would be a dreadful doctor’s visit.
It IS broken. The X-Ray was crystal clear, and so was the gargantuan crack in the bone of my right hand. The rift looked to be nearly an inch long on the x-ray, and at that moment I could not have been more disappointed that my senior year summer would be spent in a bulky cast with minimal arm movement allowed. However, the disappointments had only begun. The doctor quickly shooed us out of the check-up room and left my mother and I in the hallway with a nurse.
“Seven hundred dollars for the prescription medications, the bindings, and the x-rays…”, the woman droned on before my mother and I about the prices that somehow added up to this ridiculous price. I stood before her completely astonished at this overwhelming list of medical procedures and processes that I had not realized I had even undergone. I knew the appointment would not have been cheap, but seven hundred dollars was far above my expected price for my injury treatment. Moreover, I was not able to fully grasp how my thirty-minute meeting with a snappy doctor had blown up to these proportions. It seemed as if the hefty price of my medical bill swiftly defeated any other desires I had in the summer and that I would need to slowly save up money to afford the frightening payment.
Now, even to this day, I will never quite understand every component that contributed to that payment, or the validity of the number itself. I question myself: with these monetary consequences, am I never allowed to fall? Am I not allowed to injure myself without the fear of footing an enormous bill? With this large sum, it certainly seems like I can never injure myself unless I want to spend weeks of paychecks and hard work on a single doctor’s appointment. Never fall again, I’ll have to tell myself.
Nam Yoonsoo was a contestant in the 2015 Costs of Care Essay Contest.