The Perpetual Trauma Exerted Upon the Sick (Or, the GOP is Trying to Take Away Our Healthcare Again)
There's another threat to American healthcare in the works this week.
It feels almost comical to be typing that again, and again, and again, but GOP leaders don't seem tired of trying to quash it, so I don't get to be tired of fighting.
And the thing is, I am tired. I'm physically tired because my body exerts way more energy than a normal body by just existing. I'm tired because it's cold season in Chicago and I have a suppressed immune system thanks to my drug regimen. I'm tired because it's 2017 and patient quality of life should be better, but it's nearly impossible to make significant improvements to patient lives when every other week we have to use all our exhaustible energy calling Congress and begging them to let us keep the most basic thing we need to keep going –– our access to healthcare.
So take a second to read up on the tax reform bill –– it's a doozy on every front and will have serious repercussions for lower-income families, graduate students, and basically anyone who wasn't born into a real estate dynasty. But it will also have a major impact on anyone with a health condition, or anyone who has a loved one with a health condition. The bill as it is currently written would repeal the individual mandate, meaning young, healthy people wouldn't be required to buy health insurance. That would drive premiums up exponentially for sick people of all ages who desperately need health insurance to stay alive and functional.
This is all more of the same. Being sick or disabled in our current political climate seems to mean living in a near-constant state of repeated trauma, never getting the chance to breathe easy lest the other shoe drop and you lose your healthcare while you were looking the other way. Patients have to choose between tuning out of the news completely and blindly hoping for the best, or becoming advocates who have to constantly share their painful stories in attempts to be heard.
This phenomenon isn't exclusive to the healthcare fight. The #MeToo movement is a similar iteration of campaigns like #HowObamacareSavedMyLife, etc. that all seek to put human faces on what shouldn't be, but seem to be, politicized issues. And while I am the world's biggest supporter of telling your stories, I can't help but wish we lived in a world where survivors of sexual assault, members of the disabled community, and other oppressed classes didn't have to bare their souls in order to receive the basic human treatment they deserve.
Because in spite of the fact that I share my stories on a regular basis, living in that headspace isn't always easy. It's hard to give so much time and energy thinking about how bad I know my illness can get. It's harder to know that there are people out there who truly don't care, or who think being sick is somehow my fault. And it doesn't get easier every time legislators introduce a new bill that could take away my coverage and threaten my financial and medical future. Every time we put out one fire, there seems to be another match being lit out of sight.
So while Thanksgiving may be over, take a minute this holiday season to be grateful for the people who refuse to give up or shut up, even when it's hard and the news out of Washington seems relentlessly bleak. And take a moment to call your senators, because this is important. Donate to a campaign that could help make the future different (like Doug Jones!), knock on doors for your favorite candidate, or get involved in local office yourself. And if it feels right, tell your own story. I can't say it won't be hard, but I can say it will be worth it.