Posted March 22, 2007
Jackie Boykin feels like she is living in a dream -- a dream that she desperately wants to wake up from. But this is not a dream. Her husband of 46 years, her best friend, her life partner is gone.
On March 3, Randell Boykin experienced chest pains and asked his wife to drive him to the hospital. She bypassed the closest hospital, WakeMed, because she and her husband had seen news reports that it was no longer taking their insurance. When they finally got to Rex Hospital, her husband collapsed. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead nine days later.
The insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, and WakeMed, responded to our story saying that, in fact, the insurance would have been honored in an emergency situation at any hospital, the closest hospital. It is a message they are desperately trying to get out. There has obviously been confusion since the insurance carrier and hospital officially parted ways March 1.
But in many ways, this story is not about insurance or emergency rooms. It's about choices. Choices that in the blink of an eye can have a profound impact on our entire life. Jackie Boykin understandably replays that day in her mind on a frequent basis, wondering if she could have, or should have done something differently. The truth is we cannot second-guess our decisions when we are in crisis. She did "what I thought I had to do."
Boykin lights up when she talks about her yearlong trip in a motor home around the country with her husband. She remembers fondly their first few years of his retirement along the coast. She boasts about how her husband's job with IBM took them to wonderful places like Boca Raton, Fla. "We did everything together," she said. "He always wanted what was best for me."
Now, Boykin must learn about the finances that her husband always took care of. They had only been in their new home for a month before he died and were still settling in. Deciphering the passwords on her husband's many computer accounts is a daunting task for someone who is grieving.
Boykin honors her husband's memory with grace and compassion. She needs to know that she is not to blame for her husband's death. There's no telling whether or not he would have lived if she had called 911 instead of driving him, or if she had ignored his advice and gone to WakeMed. In life we cannot second-guess our choices. We make them, and the chips fall where they may.
"I've had a great life," Boykin says with the first smile of the day. Hopefully the next part will be great as well, -- different, but rich with the love of children, grandchildren and friends. My guess is that Randell would have wanted it that way.