As part of New York Metro Hospital’s new promotional program, chronically ill repeat patients are eligible for a free diagnosis after paying for their first nine. Local freelancer and neck pillow expert Jill Ponds is eager to get that next hole punch in her card and capitalize on the freebie.
“After my first appointment I didn’t think I would even come close to ten, because my doctor told me it was just a small UTI. But then it got worse, and it wasn’t a UTI, it was a kidney infection. And then after another visit they said while it technically was a kidney infection, it was being caused by a chemical imbalance.”
The recurring sequence of getting a diagnosis, receiving a treatment and then discovering a new symptom became a frequent pattern for Ponds. Like a game of anatomical whack-a-mole, with each new solution she found herself with an unexplained ache or discomfort.
“Before I knew it, I had seen each specialist in the building and was even added to their iMessage group chat,” she said while eating a handful of her custom “party mix” (made of TUMS, Skittles, Tylenol, Flintstones Multivitamins and a Cough Drop). “I became a local celebrity of sorts, and after diagnosis number seven (IBS) and diagnosis number eight (allergy to IBS medication), I started taking the card seriously and even got it laminated.”
Just days later, Ponds found a weird rash on her fingers and knew she was destined to complete the promotion. She had racked up $40,000 in medical debt along the way, but at least she could sleep knowing her next mysterious illness would be diagnosed on the hospital’s dime.
“I might go redeem my free diagnosis on my birthday, just as a treat to myself,” she told us. “I’m sure something will pop up by then.”