A few months ago, Josue Jimenez had a fever and a bad stomach ache. On the first and second day, he wasnt too worried. By the third day, he started getting nervous. Why wasnt he better yet?
I should go to the doctor, he thought.
But Jimenez, a Modesto Junior College student, doesnt have health insurance. And he knew his family didnt 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. Hes 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 fathers business selling promotional products to companies. The bank foreclosed on their home. They declared bankruptcy.
Doctors visits simply werent in the budget anymore even clinic co-pays were too much. These days, when the adults in Jimenezs family get sick, they try their best to hide it.
Sometimes Jimenezs 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 dont want to risk any chance of me getting sick, he said. It wouldnt be good. And we wouldnt be able to actually do anything about it.
Capital Public Radio will discuss The Bees 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.