A little good news!

January 13, 2010

Dad’s liver functions appear to be normal, which would suggest that at the least the cancer isn’t in the final stages. This is very good news! Perhaps we’ll beat this thing after all. It doesn’t help much for the amount of money they’re going to end up shelling out for the surgery alone (it’s looking like it’ll be around 40 grand), but at least–at the moment–it doesn’t look like things are getting worse.


A foreward

January 13, 2010

Before I begin, to whoever may read this blog, I’d like to tell a story.

Once upon a time, there were two young people who fell deeply in love.  He was a musician with dreams of hitting it big, and she was an Italian beauty who not only knew how to party, but how to keep an immaculately clean house. They danced and laughed and loved, and were truly happy together. They never had much money–his dreams of stardom became more and more unattainable for every hair that fell from his head–but they truly loved each other. So strong was their love that the house they built together was filled with a beautiful tenderness that even people houses over were sure to enjoy.

You could have written a love ballad about it.

They had three children, and with each of them came difficulties. While their oldest and youngest kids were born without too much trouble, both would face health issues down the road. Their middle child–a boy–was born with severe down syndrome. The couple couldn’t afford to care for him at the time, so they signed custody over to the boy’s grandmother, who has cared for him ever since. The oldest–at age 6–was diagnosed with severe Aplastic anemia. The doctor advised them to “make arrangements”. Luckly, the man’s job included decent insurance, so they were able to fight for their daughter’s life. A miracle bone marrow transplant (courtesy of her down syndrome brother) saved her life at the last second.  Their youngest daughter’s health issues wouldn’t become apparent until years later–but luckily, that daughter married and Englishman.

Despite the raising premiums, despite the cost of the procedures, and the cost of the checkups, the man and his wife managed to raise healthy children despite the circumstances. For them, there was little healthcare. Luckily, neither of them had any major medical problems beyond some dental woes–until the year 2009.

I’m their oldest daughter. My father’s hard work as a young man–as a man not much older than I am now–saved my life as a child. He was a dreamer whose dreams fell apart–a construction worker far better suited to work in a classroom or museum. However, to provide for my mom and my sister and I he worked long hours and always went without. Dad is the type of guy who will give his kids the spare change in his pocket for ice cream even though he knows he needs to buy gas. He gave blood at every opportunity, and he always had some extra change for the bell ringers outside our local Walmart every Christmas. Irresponsible maybe, given our own relative poorness, but so loving, so warm, that facing the current reality of our situation is neigh impossible.

Since mid 2009, my father has been suffering digestive woes. He lost his insurance way back when the housing market dried up (not much use for construction workers, after all, when there’s no construction). My mother’s boss once offered insurance, but it grew too expensive for his workers to pay for, so he dropped it. Because they lacked insurance–and the money to pay for testing–they ignored the problem. Luckly, my mother recently inherited a bit of money about a month ago, however, and Dad’s condition worsened enough to the point where they didn’t have a choice. They had to take him in.

It turns out my father has colon cancer. We aren’t sure how advanced, but the tumor is so big that it’s almost obstructing the entire bowel. My mother is beside herself with worry and grief. I think I’m in shock. To hear your mother–who’s only 50–turn to you and say “What if he dies? I don’t know how to be alone.” is heartrending. I cried for a while, and then came online. Then, I saw the headlines.

More bickering over the healthcare proposals in congress.

And that’s when I realized that I needed to do something. Start a blog, start a movement, something. My sister–who has severe issues with her thyroid and polyps on her ovaries–has all of her medical expenses paid for. She’s pregnant now, and is being cared for beyond anything I could ever hope for. She gets housecalls from the local midwife, has all of her tests for free–and is looking forward to a minimum of 6 months paid maternity leave.

All because she happened to marry and Englishman, and lives in England.

I’ve heard a lot of arguing the past year about “Why the public option would be a horrible cancer on America” or about how “It’ll destroy democracy.”. Well, I can tell you one thing, gentle denizens of the blogosphere. It’s all a big crock. Everyone who claims to be “Christian” and is against the public option is either grossly misinformed about their own religion, or is a charlatan. Any politician who claims to be looking out for the citizens of this country and then turns around and votes down a vital–and necessary bit of legislation–is a traitor. Oh yes, I’ll go that extreme. They aren’t working for us. They’re working for the real people who are threatened by reform. The insurance empire. The prescription drug regime.

And those bastards are at best putting my parents–who are decent, hard working Americans–into horrendous debt.

At worst, they’re murdering my father and god knows how many other people.

But, gentle reader, I’m sure you’re wondering “Why should I pay taxes to help other people?”. My answer to you is “Why not?” After all, you pay every month to the insurance companies–granted that you have insurance. When I had insurance through my previous employer, it was $150 per month. I’d far rather have paid that to taxes if it meant I could get health care at any time (like now, when I’m an unemployed student–thank you Mr. Economy). In fact, the one time that I did use my insurance while I was working was because I became dizzy at work. The doctor thought I might be anemic, so he sent me to get some blood work. Guess what–remember that “Aplastic anemia” I had as a kid? (which, by the way, was fully cured 20 years ago) Turns out the insurance company considers all forms of anemia in me to be a “preexisting condition”. That’s right–the one time that I used my 150$ a month insurance (that I paid into for about 2 years before this), they didn’t pay for my doctor visit. That money could have been so better used to help other people. Instead, the insurance company took my 3600$ and gave me exactly nothing in return.

I like to think the best of people. I like to think that the only reason why people shoot down healthcare for everyone–for people like my mom and dad who are too young and make a bit too much money to get medicare or medicaid–is that they’re misinformed or lied to. I don’t want to think that they’re doing it because they’re greedy–because they’d rather buy HDTVs than pay a little every month to make another human being’s life better. To give another human being a new lease on life.

We sign those organ donor spots on our licenses. We give blood. We give to the red cross. This is the same thing. This is giving the poor and hell–the lower middle class in this country a fighting chance. And some day, that very gift would come back to you. We aren’t all going to be employed forever. Someday, you might find yourself without a job, and in need of help. And then won’t you be glad we have something to protect all Americans, not just the ones lucky enough to have a sweet job with good healthcare coverage?

Anyway, I’ll post again when we have an update on Dad.