Before COVID, Adriana, a 60-year-old resident of downtown Miami, had been working hard as a waitress--in spite of serious health problems.
In May of 2019, she had such severe abdominal pain that she was unable to walk or talk and was forced to go to the emergency room. Doctors told her that she needed a colonoscopy to determine the cause of her gastrointestinal issues and stomach pain and a brain scan because of her severe migraines. She tried to get those tests at the local public hospital, but has been unable to get an appointment. She went to another non profit hospital to see if she could get the tests at a reduced cost The coloscopy alone was $ 900. Despite being in severe pain and not knowing what was wrong, Adriana continued to work.
But in March of 2020, like millions of other Americans, Adriana lost her job due to COVID-19. Her restaurant closed and she was told the earliest she could be re-hired would be January 2021. She filed for unemployment in April 2020; she has not received payments. She fears that she will be evicted from her apartment because she can no longer pay rent.
With her severe migraines, hip pain to the point where it is hard to walk, and horrible abdominal pain getting worse in April, she spent $75 -money she could ill afford to spend - to see a doctor.
“Thank God the buses are free or I would not have been able to get to the doctor,” she said.The doctor prescribed pain medication and other medication for her stomach to try and alleviate the symptoms. The medication worked while she was taking it, but now she has run out of it and is in intense pain once again. She does not have the money to pay for another visit to a specialist or to fill any more for more prescriptions. And she still needs tests she can’t afford for a definitive final diagnosis.
“I am 60 years old and someone at my age really needs to take care of themselves,” she said. “Without a job, I don’t have money, I don’t have anything, I don’t have health.”
With the stress of COVID-19, not being able to work and still waiting to receive unemployment benefits, she feels like she takes her life in her hands every time she goes out. She wants to know her health problems are and how she can treat them to manage the pain.
“I just want a doctor to look at me, provide the tests i need and tell me what is wrong,” Adriana said “ I want to be able to work again but I don’t have a job anymore.”
“I dream of going back to work,” she said.