Some Medicine is Life-Saving

Some Medicine is Life-Saving March 15, 2012

 Warning: The following is a rant.

Metered-dose Inhaler

Other medicine is not.

Last night I got in bed at 10:00. I said some prayers, sitting up occasionally, trying to breathe in between “Our Fathers”. Finally I gave up on sleeping and arranged a million pillows behind me, opened my book in front of me, and tried to take my mind off my rapidly worsening asthma attack.

Asthma is a scary condition. I’ve had it all my life. I had severe asthma as a child, made worse by the fact that I was allergic to absolutely every plant and flower in North Texas. A regimen of allergy shots, allergy pills, inhalers and occasional rounds of prednisone kept it in check through high school. It improved slightly in college, only to get significantly worse during my first pregnancy. At that point my OB/GYN put me on two different asthma maintenance meds, in addition to my trusty emergency inhaler. I still needed three rounds of prednisone during that pregnancy, plus the occasional night huddled over my nebulizer.

When we moved to Las Vegas my asthma improved dramatically. The allergens were practically non-existent there. The dry air was remarkably easier to breathe. I dropped all my asthma meds except my emergency inhaler and managed to go prednisone-free for the duration of my pregnancy with Liam.

Now we’re in Florida. I’m back on one maintenance med and allergy pills. Every other week my asthma will flare up and I’ll spend a day or two stopping mid-sentence or mid-activity to lean over and gasp for air. Last night, by 11:00, I was out of bed and the Ogre was helping me set up my nebulizer. The nebulizer is my last line of defense, and as such, I hate using it. I hate using it because it makes me feel awful, and I hate using it because if it doesn’t work I’m really in trouble. Fortunately for me, it’s always worked. We live an hour from a hospital now; if I didn’t have the nebulizer at home, that hour drive would have been very scary.

Liam went into anaphylactic shock a few months ago, brought on by an as-yet-unknown allergen. I spent eight hours with him at the hospital, talking with doctors and nurses about the ingredients in what he ate and trying to identify the culprit. I was trained to use an EpiPen, and the hospital gave us a prescription for two with strict instructions to keep it with Liam, always.

We didn’t have insurance then. The EpiPens cost us $280 dollars. You didn’t see me barreling into a Congressional hearing to demand free life-saving medication for my son. No, the Ogre and I did what responsible adults do. We used money we had set aside for Christmas presents to pay for the necessary medication. Our kids didn’t get gifts from us this year. They didn’t notice, either, because they got plenty from their grandparents and aunts and uncles. If they had noticed they would have been disappointed, but the Ogre and I would have let them know in no uncertain terms that their brother’s life is worth more than any gift.

My little brother had a close friend growing up who had Type 1 diabetes. When he was diagnosed, his parents made sure that everyone who would be responsible for him knew how to give him emergency glucagen injections. He spent the night at our house one night and was barely responsive in the morning. My mother quickly gave him the injection and some orange juice. He recovered, but had he not had that medication, he would be dead.

So would millions of children and adults. Many people have died because they lack access to life-saving medication.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the HHS mandate. I’ve started several posts about it that have stalled out. Part of my problem is that I’m so outraged about the entire thing that I can’t focus my anger. What makes me the most angry? The blatant disregard for religious liberty? The obvious and pointed attack on Catholics? The fact that our very livelihood, and the livelihood of our neighbors, is put in peril by this stupid, stupid mandate?

Yeah, those make me angry. But not as angry as the fact that of all the medications used in the United States, this administration has decided that the sole medication, the only medication, that they will demand be provided free of charge is birth control.

Birth control. Birth control is covered by most insurances. Birth control is cheap, extremely cheap, even if you don’t have a prescription. And for those who hold the dubious stance that birth control prevents cancer, guess what? Catholic organizations already cover prescription birth control in those situations.

So this is what the people of America have demanded, in the eyes of this administration. Not life. Not access to EpiPens for all, since death by allergic reaction can be prevented almost always by prompt administration of epinephrine. Not free inahalers and nebulizers for severe asthmatics. Not free insulin for those with Type 1 diabetes. Free birth control, not for the purpose of preventing disease but for the purpose of preventing pregnancy.

Guess what else you can do to prevent pregnancy? Close your damn legs. Hold an aspirin there if that what it takes, and go ahead and call me a misogynist all you want. This medication that women are demanding for free is completely unnecessary. Completely. Guess what’s not unnecessary? Being able to breathe. You can prevent pregnancy by the simple expedient of not having sex. You can’t prevent an asthma attack that easily. Nor an allergic reaction, especially when the allergen is unknown. Inhalers and EpiPens and insulin and heart medication save lives. Birth control absolutely doesn’t. And it makes me furious that our government and our culture value their sex lives more than they value the life of my child. The HHS mandate is an insult to the American people, and any rational person would see it as such.

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