My Health Story: Gerson Cortes

By Gerson Cortes

I waited two months since I noticed something was wrong to see a doctor.

In those two months, I was scared enough to ask my fiance to take me to the doctor only twice, and those two times I rationalized the need away: No money, not bad enough.

Not bad enough.

That has been a lifelong motto when it came to my health. It has to be bad enough that the trip to the doctor is worth it. No cold, no flu, no four day fever has gotten me to the doctor. When I was 11, my mom waited so long to take me to the doctor, that by the time we reached the emergency room, my appendix had ruptured.

Not bad enough.

In those two months I waited, I came close to passing out two times; I lost my sight for one minute after running, and my spleen tripled in size to 24 centimeters.

My body was pumping out so many white blood cells, they could not be stored in a normal 8 centimeter long spleen.

I have Leukemia.

I went to a clinic that advertised 25 dollar consults, and after touching my swollen belly only once, the doctor sent me to the emergency room. Thirty minutes later, I knew, and all I could think about was the man sitting next to me, holding my hand. I had asked him to marry me two months before. I had asked him to move out with me and start a new life far away. I had asked him to risk it all with me. Neither of us could cry.

At the time, I was making $212 per week. When my appendix burst, mom was making $300.

Without insurance, a trip to the doctor has to be worth it.