I thought I was going to die.
I have four different “pre-existing conditions,” maybe five if this new inflammation turns out to be rheumatoid arthritis. None of them is deadly, in itself, but they’re painful and have more or less disabled me.
And they’re only going to get worse.
Medicine can’t do everything. I’ve also got to eat right, which I do, and exercise, which I do when the fatigue isn’t severe, and take my weird esoteric vitamins that I pay for out of pocket. But sometimes, medicine helps. Some of these things can be kept in check by doctor’s care. My stomach calms to the point that I can eat solid food when I take my pills. If I do have RA, I’ll have to take a lot of medicine for that to keep my hand from deforming into a useless mitten, or at least to slow the progress. And if another autoimmune condition crops up (because they always seem to come in bunches somehow), that could easily kill me. If the next things my immune system attacks is my lungs or my kidneys, I will die without medical care. And it will hurt.
I’m the first to admit that the Affordable Care Act has a lot of stupidity in it. It needs reform in many ways. But the ACA is the reason I can see a doctor. It’s the reason I’m in quite a bit of pain instead of unbearable pain. It’s the reason I’ve got a long list of foods I can’t eat, instead of being too nauseated keep food down at all. It’s the reason I won’t just die if I get cancer or anything else that rushing to the emergency room won’t fix.
Friday night, I heard they’d postponed the vote on the American Healthcare Act– the one I wrote about recently, which would have taken insurance away from twenty-four million people. And I heard that they were talking about making it even crueler at the last minute, to appeal to the Republicans who claimed it didn’t go far enough. I heard they were plotting to throw in a line about repealing the ban on insurance companies being allowed to refuse to pay for any pre-existing conditions. If they’d done that, I would never have been able to get insurance. Never mind losing my medicaid, I would simply not be able to get health insurance even if I was wealthy.
I felt like I was staring down the barrel of a gun.
I was shaking with terror. I admitted to my Republican friends that, much as I respected them, I was very angry that they had voted for someone who wanted to kill me. They knew from the get-go that he wanted to repeal the ACA; they knew that Republican politicians have a deep love of taking things from poor people, yet they went ahead and voted for him anyway in the hopes that it would somehow, by means unspecified, save unborn babies. They had voted to kill me, or at least to condemn me to a life of pain; they had voted to make sure that my daughter couldn’t go to the pediatrician for a tetanus shot and that my husband couldn’t see a doctor either– that millions of people couldn’t get routine medical care and if they ran to the emergency room for treatment when things hit the fan, they’d be slapped with impossible medical debt. And they’d done it on the notion that it was going to save unborn babies. I’m still trying to figure out how. That measly year of de-funding Planned Parenthood would never have made any kind of difference.
I’m fully willing to lay down my life to save another human being, including an unborn baby. I would do that, if you could show me for certain how it would save them. But I’m very resentful of the fact that my daughter, my husband and I were being immolated on the altar of the Republican party in the hopes that it might inconvenience some abortionists. That’s not life-saving or being pro-life; that’s chewing poor people up into ideological spitballs. It’s human sacrifice to Moloch in the hope that this time, Moloch will spare some of the humans you care about.
It is wrong to take away healthcare from millions, just in case somebody wants to get an abortion with it. It is wrong to kill or torture me and my family, just in case we were planning on using our medicaid for contraception (which we never would).
I went to bed in a panic, snuggling my archangel icons, praying for the grace of a holy death if it came to that.
Thankfully, the next morning my fatigue was very low. Instead of hovering over the computer, I went out to run errands on the bus. I avoided the bus with Old Scratch; I got the nice drivers who left me alone. I snuck into the basement of the church downtown to pray at the Adoration chapel. I visited the Friendship Room. I stayed out as long as I could.
When I got home, I found out the AHCA bill had been pulled.
They weren’t even going to bother to vote on it.
Paul Ryan was sulkily admitting that Obamacare was the law of the land.
I haven’t felt so free since November. I laughed. I cheered. I would have danced, if I wasn’t so tired.
Hallelujah, praise the Lord. Yes, I said “hallelujah” during Lent. Eastern Catholics do that. Hallelujah. If I die, it won’t be for lack of medicaid. Thank you, Jesus.
And, much as I hate to say it, Thank you to President Trump, for telling the GOP to kill the bill. For the first time since your election, I feel like I’m winning.
I have just one little question, though. How am I supposed to go on with business as usual, when I’ve seen just how many earnest pro-life Christians view the poor as projectiles in a turf war? How do I move forward, knowing how many people thought that my life, and the lives of thousands of others, were acceptable sacrifices for no gain at all?
What do I do when so many pious people want me dead?
(image via pixabay)