Chronic Illness –– It Could Happen to You!
Lupus. Multiple Sclerosis. Endometriosis. Crohn's Disease. Rheumatoid arthritis.
All of these are just a handful examples of debilitating chronic illnesses with unknown causes. Doctors believe some mix of genetics and environment and about a million other things could be the culprit, but the point is: we don't know.
And when you don't know what causes a disease, it's nearly impossible to prevent getting or having it. There's no cure for a large percentage of chronic illnesses. No amount of healthy eating or positive thinking or only buying organic shampoo can prevent you from getting these diseases. Some people will have them, and some people won't, and until we can determine direct causation, there's no way of knowing who will draw the lucky card that says "totally healthy" and who will draw the card that says "chronically ill." Healthy people have not done something "better" or more virtuous than people with these conditions –– they've simply gotten luckier in the lottery that is life.
And being healthy is not a static state. I thought I was healthy, too, until I wasn't. There are young, seemingly healthy people every day who are suddenly developing terrifying symptoms and being diagnosed with these illnesses. Being healthy up to this point in your life does not make you immune to falling ill tomorrow, or next week, or when you're fifty.
Is all of this scaring you? That's kind of my point. Because I need you to do something, and fear is a powerful motivator! I need you to call your senator and ask them to vote "no" on Graham-Cassidy. For the uninitiated, Graham-Cassidy is yet another bill the GOP has introduced to try to take healthcare away from millions of people –– 32 million, to be exact.
Everyone should be afraid of this bill. They nearly have the votes to pass it, and the ramifications of said passage would be felt in nearly every household in this country. Pregnancy could put you in financial ruin based on the essential health benefits that could be taken away by Graham-Cassidy. The implications for people with the chronic illnesses I listed above would be devastating. People will go bankrupt, and people will die, and that is not an exaggeration.
I know that in these political times, it's hard to muster the energy to care about every insane bill that comes across your Twitter feed, or to feel outraged at Trump's latest horrifying statement. It's easy for me to fight against this because I literally have to –– my life, as a chronic illness patient, depends on it. But what motivation do you have?
I can be your motivation. Your mom with diabetes or your uncle with cancer can be your motivation. Your dreams of one day having children can be your motivation. Or, this simple and succinct tweet from Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy can be your motivation:
"Years from now, when your child is denied health care bc of his illness and you are facing bankruptcy, you'll regret being silent this week."
This blog is often about how you can help people with chronic illnesses live better lives. Today, this blog is about how you can help yourself. Do something today that your future, potentially less healthy self with thank you for and make a two-minute phone call that could literally save lives. When else are you going to have that kind of power with that little effort?
And as an added bonus: if you have friends in Maine, Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, and Kansas –– forward this post to them, please! They have senators that are still on the fence about the bill who could make or break access to healthcare. Want to do even more? This is a great resource for local events.
Thank you for listening to my story, thank you for calling, and thank you from your future self who would really like to be able to pay for his blood pressure medication and also send his kid to college.