A Tennessee woman described her experience with a life-threatening medical condition that must remain untreated for now because hospitals in her area are clogged with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
Betsy Phillips, who writes for the Nashville Scene, published an op-ed in the Washington Post explaining her fear and frustration after a surgery that promised to allow her to breathe had to be postponed because hospitals in her state are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, most of whom weren't vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"I'm scared," Phillips writes. "I'm vaccinated, but a breakthrough case would be dangerous for me. I'm bone-deep disappointed. But mostly, I am angry. I did everything I was asked to do to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19. I wanted to do my part to end this crisis. Now, I wonder: Are there any circumstances under which my neighbors would do the same to keep me safe?"
Phillips developed golf ball-sized lump on the front of her throat overnight on Jan. 3, and after eight months of doctor visits, breathing difficulties and oozing discharge, she was set to have surgery Sept. 10 after finally getting a diagnosis.
"It took until August for a doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to come up with a definitive diagnosis: granulomatous disease from histoplasmosis," Phillips writes. "In laymen's terms, my immune system is torturing me because it went haywire in reaction to a fungus. Surgery promised to immediately improve my ability to breathe, and to heal my neck."
She asked at that time if her surgery might be postponed for COVID-19 patients, but the doctor assured her that her procedure would be among the last taken off the calendar because her condition was life-threatening, but that's exactly what happened.
"Our hospitals are full of people who are very sick and dying because they couldn't be bothered to get one of three safe and effective vaccines — or at the very least stay home as much as possible and wear masks when they had to go out," Phillips writes. "They wouldn't do their civic duty, but they get access to hospitals in front of those of us who did."
Phillips understands why doctors can't refuse to treat patients with some illnesses, even if they refused to take common-sense precautions, but the experience is frustrating, painful and terrifying.
"I'm still so very angry that people who put their feelings before others' well-being get to be first in the hospitals," Phillips writes.
"The people who arrogantly claim that their choices not to be vaccinated and take precautions against COVID-19 have no effect on anyone else need to know that isn't true. I'm one of the people they're hurting," she adds. "What will it take to make them stop?"