Monday, September 23, 2013

The elephant in the waiting room

I don't actually feel conflicted about the controversy over healthcare. I feel apathetic toward the healthcare reform currently underway (Affordable Healthcare Act) because it's badly cobbled together with some amazing parts and many more lackluster ones, all of which are the sine qua non of our failed political system. That said, people who oppose reform absolute baffle me at the most basic human level I know.

I think we're pretty much divided into three camps here: the chronically ill, those who've experienced a devastating health crisis, and the well. The first two groups support, IMHO, something being done to fix our broken, emotionally degrading, and financially oppressive system. The third group just wants the sick to fucking die already so they don't have to 'pay' for anyone else's problems. Harsh, but really, isn't that essentially true? Isn't that the crux of the matter?

People who are well believe themselves morally superior. They don't feel any gratitude for having their health. They taken it as a given that being a good, morally upstanding, probably Christian American gives them protection from the demons of disease, illness, and freak accident, while the godless and/or unrepentant get cancer or multiple sclerosis or what-have-you and then selfishly and evilly expect help.

I look at it this way: we do have some health factors within our reasonable control. We can choose not to smoke. We can choose to drink only in moderation. We can buckle our seat belts.

However, there are a lot of factors that are well beyond our control. I don't just mean our genes, gene expression, and genetic predispositions, although these play a huge part. People who are wholly reasonable and responsible in their day-to-day lives can still be injured or die from falling down the stairs. People who exercise can still have a massive heart attack. I refer you to Jim Fixx with regard to that one. People without a familial history of cancer can still get it and suffer expensively...and either live or die based on the quality of care received.

Yes, Virginia, even morally upstanding people who visit their churches and anti-abortion protests twice a week can still end up among the unwell.

I don't really want to wish chronic or long-term illness on anyone.

But for those who have never been there and those who never had a reason to feel grateful for their health or that of others, and therefore might find such gratitude as foreign as taking one's shoes off to enter a home, I sincerely wish they could have some sort of aha! moment that would let them understand how things are for the unwell people whom they so despise, especially those with inadequate access to care.

Now for some disclosure, lest anyone think that I'm interested in reform only for my own benefit: yes, I am chronically ill, but yes, I also have health insurance through my employer, and although the expense remains a pretty harsh financial burden, I am grateful for the fact that I can afford essential medications and preventative healthcare.

That said, most of the people I have sincerely loved in my life -  and for any Christians reading, no, that isn't heathen code for 'guys I've fucked', although most of my former boyfriends fit in here too - the majority of them have had some sort of ongoing medical problem, whether it's debilitating back pain from a car accident, epilepsy, Type II diabetes, lingering effects of a stroke, or fibromyalgia. I have had little cause in my life to find or seek out the companionship of well people. That's just me, how I'm wired, apparently. Not to be flippant or tacky, but as a child, I always prefer my older, broken toys to the new ones. They gave greater comfort.

Anyway, that was weirdly long. Sorry about that. I spent a lot of time this weekend at home with my well partner, getting screamed at over this issue, so it's been on my mind.

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