I feel like my body is falling apart.
October 11, 2012 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Boston Area student looking for medical help - specifically, I'm developing tinnitus, cloudy vision, and I think maybe my wisdom teeth are coming in. All of these problems are giving me severe anxiety, and I have no idea where to start getting medical treatment.

I am originally from Connecticut, now I live in Allston/Brighton. My parents are unemployed, so I only have Husky state insurance. I have no idea if that will be accepted anywhere around here, as it's (apparently) barely even accepted by any doctors in Connecticut. My school offers insurance, but I can't really afford it.

My tinnitus and hearing loss seem to be getting worse, which is terrifying to me, and I want to start working on this problem. I was sitting here in class not twenty minutes ago and experienced an awful ringing in my left ear; now I feel like I can hear less in that ear. It's causing me to clench my teeth, my teeth are being ground down, and I feel like my head is constantly under pressure. There are constant dancing spots in my vision, all over, and I find it harder and harder to focus on actually SEEING what I'm looking at. It looks sort of like the walls are crawling, or like I'm oversensitive to light around me. I have trouble sleeping because of the ringing. My anxiety over these issues is incredible, to the point where I'm starting to have some very very dark thoughts.

I want to see a GP, a dentist, an ENT, a psychiatrist, anything to help me cope with these issues and I have literally no idea where to go or how to start. I haven't been to a GP since before I was sixteen, and I'm more or less unfamiliar with how the American medical process works except that it's not free, and my family doesn't have any money. I may have damaged my hearing permanently, but I want to tackle this issue before I go deaf, which is basically my greatest fear in life.

Willing to answer any and all questions, get specific suggestions for doctors, etc. I'm going home to Connecticut this weekend and would like to start seeing somebody as soon as next week.
posted by JimBennett to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does your school have a health center? Mine had a medical heath center, urgent care, and counseling, all were offered for quite cheap to students.

Looking for someone that takes your insurance is pretty easy, your insurance's website should have a like that says something like "find a provider" or "find a doctor." If there aren't any near you then you are going to have to pay more unfortunately.

It does look like your insurance has a nurse advice line though: 1.800.859.9889 you might want to start with that.

If you are looking for cheap dental care, look for a dental school in your area.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:43 PM on October 11, 2012

Not to be all "scary internet medical advice," but the vision thing especially is pretty concerning. The tinnitus and teeth clenching can be related to anxiety, but the vision thing signals that it could be something serious, something in your brain. Eye problems are up there with heart problems in the "go to the emergency room" realm.

I guess I would go to the ER to at least get cleared that there isn't something big and scary, before it gets worse. It will also help to relieve some of your anxiety, and get you out of the super dark place, which will help you cope better with finding a GP and figuring out the lesser issues of what's going on.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:44 PM on October 11, 2012

Is there any way to contact your insurance to ask them for a list of the nearby medical providers that accept the insurance? I generally get a medical appointment by calling my insurance, and then they set up an appointment for me through the system. I would do that today, before going to the ER. And then try to go to the student health center, which would be MUCH cheaper than the ER and could help you figure out your next step. These symptoms do sound serious, but you don't want thousands of dollars of medical bills on top of health problems.
posted by tooloudinhere at 3:02 PM on October 11, 2012

Seconding the go to ER advice. You are close to St. Elizabeth's and Mt. Auburn hospitals. Ask someone to take you there now.

I'm not suggesting you are losing your vision, but as someone who works with the blind and visually impaired, I know firsthand that irregularities with your vision should not be taken lightly. If there is a problem, you don't want to wait until it's irreversible.
posted by Sal and Richard at 3:13 PM on October 11, 2012

Triage will be faster and cheaper at your student health center or a local urgent care clinic, than at an ER.
posted by availablelight at 3:22 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call the nurse advice line right away! I think you'll get some immediate relief from your anxiety once you talk to a medical professional, and they can tell you if you need to go to the ER.

The tinnitus could be caused by stress and/or your wisdom teeth coming in, but I agree: the vision interference is worrisome.
posted by Specklet at 3:23 PM on October 11, 2012

There's so much to navigate here that we don't know about, but based on your age and the information on the HUSKY website, it looks like whichever version of HUSKY is probably part of Connecticut's implementation of Medicaid. Since Medicaid is implemented at the state level, I'm not sure that that coverage would extend across state lines. I would recommend that you call their number (either the one magnetsphere found or the one I've found: 1-877-284-8759) and ask about out-of-state coverage. At the same time, I would second the recommendation that you contact your school's student health center (assuming it has one). It's likely that they have physicians on staff who can at least evaluate you. Through one of these venues you should really try to talk to a nurse or physician as well.

All of that stuff, of course, is secondary to your experiencing these symptoms right now. If they continue or worsen, you should really just go to the ER. I don't know about St. Elizabeth's or Mt. Auburn, but if you're worried about astronomical bills, MGH has an urgent care clinic that is only a train ride away (B line inbound to Park Street, then one stop up on an Alewife-bound train to Charles/MGH) They say on their website that they accept Medicaid, though I don't know if that means out-of-state Medicaid.

Longer-term stuff to consider once you've addressed your immediate situation: if your insurance coverage isn't valid here... in Massachusetts you are required to have health insurance of up to a certain level or else you pay a tax penalty, and if you can't afford insurance, then the state (in theory) is supposed to subsidize or otherwise provide it for you. I have no idea how well this works, but I know how it's supposed to work, I would recommend contacting someone at the Health Connector.

You can get decent and affordable dental care at the Tufts Dental School clinic (between the Chinatown and Tufts Medical Center stops on the Orange Line), but that sounds like the least of your concerns at the moment.

Hang in there. I know that often the fear is the worst part.
posted by Kosh at 3:28 PM on October 11, 2012

The teeth clenching and the ear problems can definitely be related; I had that same feeling last year from anxiety and sinus problems. I felt like I couldn't hear either. Can't speak to the vision problems except to say all of this could be a combination of the wisdom teeth, maybe a type of migraines, and stress/anxiety all rolled together. Go to the student health center and see what they have to say. It helped me to take Advil a couple times a day for a week or so. I am definitely not a doctor but had similar symptoms.
posted by tamitang at 3:35 PM on October 11, 2012

hey guys, just checking in from a train station really quick. thanks for all the advice so far; i go to a small for profit college and we have no student health center at all, but i will absolutely call my insurance provider asap. will reply more in depth later
posted by JimBennett at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think the eye thing can be related to migraines even if they don't register as headaches. Not saying don't get checked out, though. Community health centers usually base their fees on ability to pay. Fins one here.
posted by lakeroon at 8:08 PM on October 11, 2012

Please go to the ED. Tinnitus and vision changes are significant neurological symptoms. I know that money is an issue, but it sounds like you've reached the point where it's seriously affecting your life and you need some answers. Good luck.
posted by brevator at 9:32 AM on October 12, 2012

A number of medications, including OTC drugs, can cause tinnitus. In many cases it's reversible. If you're taking aspirin or other NSAIDs, lay off them for a while.
posted by dephlogisticated at 12:51 PM on October 12, 2012

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