The long-term effects of contracting COVID-19 are still being studied, years after the pandemic began. For Tamara Robinson, having had the virus meant struggling with extreme insomnia for months thereafter.
Though she received prescriptions from her doctor for different sleep aids, Tamara said nothing worked.
By the time she went to the emergency room at Houston Methodist Hospital, in August 2022, she hadn’t gotten a good night’s rest since November 2021. Tamara had such an intense headache, she thought she was going to die.
“The longest time that I did not sleep was about three weeks, with no sleep at all. I kind of thought I was going to end up in a mental institution,” she said.
She was admitted to the hospital for five days. Her blood pressure was so high, medics thought she could have a stroke.
After scans and tests, seeing specialists, and trying a series of medications, Tamara began to feel much better in her overall health. She tried not to stress about what she was billed for medical services: nearly $3,800.
Tamara has health insurance through her job as a special education teacher. But, she said, it’s hard to be surprised by medical bills, given that “teachers have the worst insurance.”
“I wasn’t shocked … I was just grateful to be alive, more than anything. My plan was just to pay it, but ask about a payment plan,” she said.
Tamara found out about a better solution for medical debt while at church, when someone from Love Has No Limits, a local community group, made an announcement about Dollar For.
“When I got home after church, I looked it up. That’s when I decided I’d give it a try and see what happens,” Tamara said.
What happened was Tamara began working with Dollar For to get a fair assessment of what she should pay. She recalled getting a response via text quickly after clicking the “Get Help Now” button on the Dollar For website.
“The communication is something that I’ve never experienced with any other company, any other organization, or any other program. It was so easy. It was so fast,” Tamara said.
Within about three weeks, Tamara estimated, her medical debt was completely cleared. “I don’t owe anything, and they even gave me money back,” she said.
She couldn’t wait to tell her loved ones the good news, including her sister and the church in which she’d found out about Dollar For.
“With the insurance that (teachers) have, we have to pay up front, a certain percentage, before they’ll even do the procedure. That’s why some teachers neglect their health, because they can’t afford it. So I was excited. I was elated. Like I said, I called my sister immediately,” Tamara said.
Tamara said she now hopes to bring awareness of how insomnia can impact people’s lives, especially when it is an chronic issue as it was for her, and encourages people to seek treatment for it.