You don’t have to kill someone by shooting them with a gun–you can kill someone just as effectively by denying them a basic need, like food or water.
And when someone is sick, denying that someone access to medical care is just as effective in killing them as taking a bat and beating them to death.
In the United States of America, there are so few safeguards for those who are ill–for anyone who needs access to medical care–that the ill are completely dependent on having a ‘family of friends’–people who care enough about you that they’re willing to share what they’ve earned, in order to help keep you alive.
I’m not talking about the odd case of strep throat here and there, or even a surgery like having your appendix removed.
I’m talking about the financial strain of being chronically ill–when you’re too well to die, but too sick to work–and once in this state, hopelessly dependent on medical care to the point that its like an oxygen tank, so if someone shuts it off, you’re dead.
And it’s expensive. There is Medicare, but you have to wait two years after going on disability to get it. And Medicare has its own expenses, similar to private insurance. Like co-pays and deductibles (who care afford those?) And then there’s a lot Medicare doesn’t cover. Just like private insurance.
We live with this illusion that everyone has access to the medical care they need in the U.S. ‘If you’re sick, just go to the emergency room!’. But the ER doesn’t do chemotherapy, physical therapy (from things like strokes), or services for any kind of chronic illness, like diabetes.
As my Uncle used to say, “In the United States, they just let you die by a dumpster”. This isn’t exactly true, but there’s a truth in it–many people are dying in their homes, maybe even surrounded by loved ones, but if they had lived in Canada, Great Britain, or many other first world nations, they would have lived.
Why? Because they waited too long to get a strange lump checked because they didn’t have health insurance. Or they didn’t do the CT their doctor ordered because they couldn’t afford their deductible. Or because their insurance didn’t cover brand named drugs, so the chemotherapy that would have worked they can’t afford.
The reasons why people don’t get access to the medical care that they need in time to avoid their health problems becoming deadly is endless. And now our life expectancy is below the first world nations, which isn’t surprising.
When I sit in each specialists office–especially the ones I have to go out of town to meet–I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my family of friends who have made this moment possible. On many instances, not only would I have been long ago dead without access to medical care, but I wouldn’t even have this chance of making a full recovery it wasn’t for them.
I’m not trying to go see specialists because I think it’s cool or interesting, or because I want to travel–I’m going to see specialists because I want to get better. I go to see specialists because I don’t want my son to suffer–and my son is going to suffer without help.
No one is perfect, and I think we all wrestle with the ‘when am I going to meet my maker’ question, and who is to say what is the value of a human life. If you asked a stranger on the street what my life was worth, they might say “She’s a perfect example of our healthcare costs going out of control. People like her place a burden on our system!”
But if you asked my son, he would tell you that I’m worth every penny spent.
This is my warning, my wish for anyone who would happens to stumble upon this seemingly self-indulgent blog (which it is),
please build up your family of friends while you are healthy. And if you have the means, try to adopt one or two chronically ill patient to support. We need you.
Not one person can save the world, but we can help the people who cross our paths. It’s understood no one is wealthy enough to save everyone, but helping one or two does the world a lot of good too.
In our selfish me-me-me culture, reaching out to help others is becoming lost–“what about my future/my family”?
Well, a lot of us don’t have family that’s going to help us in our time of need. We need our fellow man to help us breathe.
Every breath of every day, I’m grateful to my family of friends. I can’t even imagine the strain my illness has put on them, and yet I would have died years ago without these angels. And the fact that they support me so that I’m able to have any hope of a recovery? That’s a miracle in itself.
And I can’t do any of this myself–I have to have the help others. (And this includes the time and effort many doctors have put into my case for free because insurance doesn’t pay for things that patients need/expect, like phone calls, research–a topic I could spend an entire post in itself on.)
Please, be careful.
I will die without access to medical care, and I’m only getting access to medical care due to the generosity of my friends.
Help someone today.