Can you start a paragraph with god dammit? Asking that question solves the problem, I guess. I don’t swear often in writing, mostly because I think of my dad every time my fingers punch those keys. But this. THIS. What else does someone who is battling a life threatening disease and who is also not independently wealthy say when her government threatens to take away her health insurance?
Let’s back up a few paces. First, let’s talk about life with a major illness. Let’s talk about the stress- not only about whether or how you will survive your disease, but how it blows a hole right through your entire life. How you practically fracture in half trying to manage the mental, emotional, and physical assaults that are hailed at you. How you have to spend time away from your children to travel for treatment or because you are too sick to function. How your children become acutely aware of your illness and pieces of their dreamy childhood are robbed from them as they sleep.
And sleep? Let’s talk about not sleeping or sleeping in pain or not being able to do anything other than cling to your bed. Let’s talk about disease and your marriage and how illness and fear fray at the lines that hold the two of you together. Let’s talk about not being able to work and medical bills and travel expenses and scraping together whatever you can to pay the mortgage or the utility bill. Let’s talk about wondering if you are going to die and going through treatments so brutal they are just on the other side of death anyway.
Now, let’s talk about heartache. Let’s talk about all the ways your life has changed. Maybe your body has been mutilated from your illness. Maybe there is a dark cloud that hangs over you from all the stress and fear and unknown that you have somehow marched through like a deranged soldier. Perhaps your children now worry that you won’t come back when you leave them. Maybe you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror anymore. Now you notice that your smile has changed in pictures. How the corners of your eyes don’t draw up anymore because you’ve been through too much sad and too much suffering.
With all that in mind- broken hearts and dreams and bodies- think about your lifeline. You’re fighting to stay alive. You go to all your doctor’s appointments, and there are lots of doctors appointments. They are so frequent, in fact, that going in for treatment sometimes feels like a Cheers episode. You take all your medications, upwards of a dozen, to help you stay alive. You’re doing your best despite being in hell.
Suddenly, people who don’t know you, and who never care to know you, take matters into their own hands. Their solution for a problem that has nothing to do with you, for which you had no hand in creating or worsening, could kill you. I’m not being dramatic. When I’m looking at what is happening in Congress right now all I know is that there are a whole lot of questions with terrifying, life-altering, consequences dangling at the end where the answers should be.
This isn’t okay. This isn’t how we treat people who are sick and who are suffering. It is unconscionable that we would even pass this off as a remote possibility, let alone a legitimate action point. The idea that I have to sit here and read about the risk of losing my health care and then try to work out in my mind what it would be like to lose our house or whether or not I would even qualify for any new plans paralyzes me with fear. I sit and stare blankly as the tears roll down, wondering how this happened. Wondering what will happen. It is fear so sharp and intense that it steps in line ahead of all the other worries I’m carrying right now, and those were pretty hefty to begin with.
This can’t be the way we move forward. I am not a bad person deserving of punishment, I am a sick person. I refuse to believe that my country would do this to me. I have been weighed down too much to be finally broken by my own team. I didn’t fight this hard to end up living this kind of life. Guys, this is the United States. United. This is not an exclusive club that benefits the few and the fortunate. We can do better than this. We have to do better than this. Our lives depend on it.
Give ‘Em Hell