Modesto JC Student: Waiting out an illness

CHCF Center for Health ReportingFebruary 20, 2011 

A few months ago, Josue Jimenez had a fever and a bad stomach ache. On the first and second day, he wasn’t too worried. By the third day, he started getting nervous. Why wasn’t he better yet?

“I should go to the doctor,” he thought.

But Jimenez, a Modesto Junior College student, doesn’t have health insurance. And he knew his family didn’t have the money to pay for a doctor. So he got in bed and waited. And waited. After five days, he finally started feeling better.

The prospect of falling sick again makes him nervous.

“I might have to wait until it becomes a very serious problem and is considered an emergency,” he said. “Or just not go at all.”

Jimenez, 18, has almond-shaped, hazel eyes and a low, gravelly voice that speaks with a wisdom that belies his years.

Last year, he graduated 12th in his class at Beyer High School with a 4.07 grade point average. He’s hoping to get a nursing degree, then eventually attend law school. He spends his free time doing community service at his church and looking, without much luck, for handyman work.

The last year has been hard on his family. When the economy tanked, it dragged under his father’s business selling promotional products to companies. The bank foreclosed on their home. They declared bankruptcy.

Doctors’ visits simply weren’t in the budget anymore — even clinic co-pays were too much. These days, when the adults in Jimenez’s family get sick, they try their best to hide it.

Sometimes Jimenez’s parents visit traditional healers. Jimenez simply tries his best to stay well. He exercises, avoids anyone who has a cold, and tries to eat healthily — even when everyone around him is eating fast food.

“I don’t want to risk any chance of me getting sick,” he said. “It wouldn’t be good. And we wouldn’t be able to actually do anything about it.”

Capital Public Radio will discuss The Bee’s series on “Insight,” its interview program, Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m. Listen at KUOP 91.3 FM or www.capradio.org/news/insight.

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