1L Experience: A pesky sore throat

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

Last week, I ventured into the basement of Pound in search of a cure for a pesky sore throat I must’ve caught, perhaps from one of my classmates who’s always opening his mouth and spreading germs (along with words upon words of self-indulgence) throughout the classroom. So I went to the Law School’s Health Center. There, they told me I had a “sore throat” (that’s the medical term for a sore throat), and that I should “try my best to stay healthy.” Very practical advice.

The nurse gave me a sheet with some tips for dealing with my malady. There was a list that began with the instruction, “Call your doctor right away if any problems develop, including the following…” (Already a problem: There was no doctor. Only a nurse.) But anyway, call your doctor if: “you are worse in any way.” In any way? Does having fallen behind on my reading count? How about having found out I didn’t win any Westlaw Rewards points this week? That could mean I am theoretically worse in some way, if I had any idea what my Westlaw Rewards points were good for.

Other reasons to call your doctor: “Confusion, drowsiness, or loss of memory.” Sounds like what happens when I get called on in class. “Trouble walking or controlling arms and legs.” Yes, that does sound like a pretty ominous development from a sore throat. “Drooling.” Huh? “Anything else that worries you.” Again, the open-ended problem. I’m worried about this war with Iraq. Is that a good reason to call my doctor?

After reading the helpful sheet, I figured it would be a good idea to check over the restrictions in the health care plan, just in case “try[ing] my best to stay healthy” didn’t end up working out for me. A few observations we all ought to be aware of about our health coverage (these are real):

Because it’s not a dental plan, injuries to teeth are only covered when not due to a “biting or chewing” incident. So if we fall on our heads and break a tooth, great, we’re covered. But if we bite into a rock masquerading as a chicken nugget in the Hark, no such luck.

Not covered: voluntary sterilization, tattoo removal, and “repetitive procedures (such as injection of varicose veins or hemorrhoids).” How about subciting? That’s a repetitive procedure. And they say “voluntary sterilization” as if there’s another variety. Not a pleasant thought.

“The removal of wisdom teeth is covered only if the teeth are impacted in the bone.” Exciting to think about.

Ambulance rides are only covered for certain “participating ambulance services.” Because when you need an ambulance, of course you’re always going to be the one calling. I suppose one of those “medic alert” bracelets would come in handy in a case like this — “If I am injured and require an ambulance, please use one of the following companies: Hospital Express, Bleed-n-Go Ambulance Service, Hit-n-Run Emergency, Bob’s “Stretch-er” Limousines or No-Frills Emergency Room Wheelbarrows, Inc. Do not under any circumstances allow me to be placed in a Roger’s Ambulance and Dog Catcher vehicle — it is not covered by my insurance.” That would be quite a large medic alert bracelet, I suppose.

The plan excludes coverage for “treatment for obesity… except as required by applicable law.” Hmm. I guess we’ll learn about those laws in our “Obesity Law” class next semester, taught by the guy who plans the menus at the Hark.

Actually, the menus at the Hark aren’t so terrible. But something that was disturbing — the other week I was getting lunch and decided to get a bottle of Tropicana grapefruit juice. Opened it up, took a sip. Tasted fine. Then I noticed the date on the bottle — “Jan 19 02.” Uh, that was almost 10 months ago. Freaked me out. I threw it away. I guess I was wrong to go against the Nantucket Nectars monopoly, and that was my punishment.

I’d never seen Nantucket Nectars in cans before coming here. Or in vending machines. Or coming out of water fountains. Or the sinks in the bathroom. Or my shower. Or in the swimming pool at the Mac. Half and half. Half lemonade, half chlorine. It’s delicious. And it would kill all those germs that caused my sore throat (see, it all comes back full circle). But at least the health center didn’t just offer me a band-aid like they gave to the girl in line ahead of me. She had a headache.

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