Are you kidding me? That is NOT a question.
Let’s just say I may be a little prone to injury. My mom has many pictures of a three year old Jordana with big owl-like glasses, a major under-bite, and bandaids on both knees.
When I was a college freshman, I hurt my back the first time working a catering job and attempting to haul a 40 pound bag of ice over my shoulder. During my first year in AmeriCorps (2003-4), I received a birthday gift from my friend An. Among the girly magazines and other feel-good gifts was an Ace bandage with the following note (or at least the sentiment), “Because Jor + physical labor will almost certainly end in disaster.” True to form, at the end of that year, literally on the last day of work, I was wielding a sledge hammer and threw out my back. Are you noticing a trend yet?
I’ve gotten more careful over time, but it’s still never a bad idea to take precautions. In addition to the biomechanic threats, there are also the big scary bugs: (Lyme disease-y) ticks, (skin-melting) brown recluse spiders, (West Nile-y) mosquitoes, and maybe even worst of all: chiggers.
When I was in AmeriCorps during my second year of service (2006-7), I spent a few days clearing invasive species at a state park near Charleston, SC. It was June and particularly hot, which was prime chigger weather. When I got home after the second or third day, I noticed a rash ringing both my left and right ankles as well as my pant buckle seam and bra line. I didn’t immediately realize what it was, but with a little googling I realized the symptoms.
Chiggers are tiny bugs that crawl on your skin until they hit a barrier (socks, pant seam, bra line). Then they dig in. Soon the itching intensified. I was stricken. It took almost two weeks for the bites to subside. I would wake up in the middle of the night in the midst of scratching with my legs streaked raw. I was bordering on whimpering.
Seriously, though, I recognize that there are critters worse than chiggers. Since high school I’ve had a real fear of Lyme disease. See, there was this reality show on MTV you may have heard of called The Real World. In the season taped in Seattle there was a woman named Irene. All you need to know about Irene is that 1) she had Lyme disease and 2) she was crazy with a capital C. I know I shouldn’t believe everything I watch on TV, but since then I’ve had a real fear of catching the disease from a tick for fear of going ca-razy.
Having done some research on it recently, I realize that my concern is not ungrounded. The northeast of the U.S. is a high risk area, and the mid-Atlantic has a moderate risk (and, for that matter, I have two friends that have gotten it in the recent past). If left untreated for several months, the disease can become chronic and cause long-term neurological symptoms (no good, definitely no good). So checking myself for ticks and the tell-tale bulls-eye rash will become a necessary nightly ritual.
Even so, I’m going to need health insurance should anything happen. So recently I had a friend at work tap into his network in HR to see if I might be able to hang onto my policy during my hiatus. As much as I’m ready to jump ship for the A.T., I still have a positive relationship with my employer and would like to consider returning should a position be available. I thought, “Maybe they’ll let me take a leave of absence and hold onto my benefits.”
Wrong. I found out today that that’s not going to happen. I can take a max of 30 days of unpaid leave with benefits. Oh well, it was worth a try.
Always have a plan B, right? As you should know by now, when all else fails, I turn to my friendly neighborhood Costco for support. Costco: where I go for jerky, car batteries, carrot juice, glasses, and health insurance…why not? The Costco website allows you to fill out your requisites for health insurance and will quote a commensurate price. Having checked it out, I found that I can get an individual plan with a high deductible ($7,500) for as little as $101 per month, or I can opt for a deductible as low as $3,000 for $178 per month.
This search was just my first pass through. I really haven’t delved that deeply into different insurance plan options. However, it really does feel good to know that options exist.
Chances are I won’t actually use my health insurance much. Mole skin: yes. Ibuprofen: yes. Health insurance: eh. But everybody knows that it only rains if you forget to bring your umbrella. And since I hear it rains a lot on the Appalachian Trail, I better not forget that umbrella.