Before I confess, let me share with you why I need to do so:
- 117 million people (or 1/2 of all adults) in the US have a chronic disease.
- Seven of the top ten causes of death are due to chronic disease.
- Two of these top ten causes are heart disease and cancer.
- Arthritis is the most common cause of disability.
According to one politician’s statement, it appears that those of us with chronic illnesses are getting what we deserve and we will have to pay the price. The insurance price, that is.
According to Congressman Mo Brooks, “…an amendment to the GOP’s American Health Care Act would require sicker people to pay more in insurance costs than people “who lead good lives.” He goes on to say, “My understanding is that it will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool that helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, you know, they are doing the things to keep their bodies healthy,” the Alabama Republican argued. “And right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”
It’s important to note that in the same CNN interview, Brooks went on to say some Americans have pre-existing conditions “through no fault of their own.” It’s a welcome concession, to be sure. But the Republican congressman added that it’s a “challenge” to determine how the system should try to help those people, and that’ll be something policymakers may have to work on “over the years … as we go forward.” – Steve Benen, MSNBC.com
So there you have it. US Representative Mo Brooks thinks that the chronically ill have
brought it on ourselves. If we extrapolate, does that mean 1/2 of all US adults live “badly”? What does it say about our society if nearly a majority of us are health sinners? Does he not identify with anyone who is chronically ill? I mean, does he think that just because he eats healthy, gets plenty of rest and exercise, that he will never get sick? I have one very impolite word for him, then: Sucker! We all thought the same way until the universe taught us a lesson. Or three. While I have a smidgen of compassion for his arrogance (and hope for his eventual enlightenment), I will not forgive him if he keeps blaming the chronically ill for being sick.
Sure, we could all live a little healthier and, yes, some health issues are made worse by poor lifestyle choices. But for every one sufferer I know who makes bad choices, I know at least 20 who are fighting the good fight. This includes children diagnosed with diabetes or pediatric rheumatoid arthritis, athletes who have asthma, elders with COPD and pacemakers, kidney recipients, epileptics and survivors/fighters of cerebral palsy, dementia, polio, AIDS and cancer.
Do we take Rep. Brooks at face value? If he’s right, then we should confess, repent (!) and ask for forgiveness in the hope of getting well, or at least getting reasonably priced healthcare. So, here I go:
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was too long ago. I’m a married woman now, with grown children and a long career behind me. I’ve earned three college degrees and have still found myself subject to human frailties. Since I became chronically ill, I’ve learned to get up every morning and make the most of each day, but I’m still sinning.
- I talked back to my parents (and
probablyevery other authority figure I met; my apologies to my parents, all of my teachers and all of my bosses, especially Stankey).
- I was, and still am, too stubborn for my own good. (Those listed above will act as my reference, especially JTS.)
- I didn’t listen when the love of my life wanted to talk about the most recent Manchester United match, again. (Seriously. US football widows got nuthin’ on EPL widows…. the EPL season starts in August and ends in May, and that doesn’t count the Euro and Championship Cups or the World Cup or the Olympics, it’s world football all year round. Is it no wonder I have hobbies?)
- I made my kids eat their vegetables. Oh, wait, that’s a lie. Their father made them eat their vegetables while I skipped right to dessert. Sinner!
- I fib (see item 4), but only occasionally, and not very well. See? I couldn’t even lie long enough to write #4…..
- I walked every where I could, until I couldn’t. This included when coworkers wanted to cab over to a meeting at the FCC or at least take the Metro. I didn’t listen when they complained of the walk, the humidity and their suffering.
- I danced too often and enjoyed far too much physical activity (weightlifting, dancing, kickboxing, dancing, cycling, dancing, running, dancing, ice skating, dancing, paddle boarding, and, finally, uhhhh, more dancing….)
- I played golf badly, I wasn’t even good enough to list it as a physical activity.
- I bought too much yarn. Repeatedly. (I’m not really sorry about this, though, so send me to perdition if you need to. I’ll be fine, I have my knitting. )
- I was a vegetarian in a land of cattle ranchers, and am too stubborn to change my eating habits despite the jokes and the “crunchy” nicknames, see item #2.
- I gambled that one time in college when Vic talked me into spending a whole roll of nickels on a slot machine. Although, we did manage to feed everyone with our winnings. Redemption?
- I brushed my teeth twice a day but may have only flossed in the mornings.
- I enjoyed alcohol but maybe not enough? (If you spent a week with me at CES you know I’m guilty for drinking one whole drink over the space of a week. Maybe I should ask forgiveness for wasting most of every pour? Waste not, want not.)
- When I first got sick, I listened to too many doctors as they tried to figure out why my body started hating itself (autoimmune sufferers all know that haters gonna hate). I only tried to leave the hospital once against medical advice and I returned to my room when they chased me down in the parking lot. I’m stubborn but I do eventually listen, so maybe there’s hope.
- I rarely took any medication and then I got sick; then I took every medication prescribed and only as prescribed. Every pill taker learns to be obsessively organized about medication. It’s a gift, really. Crud! Pride goeth before a fall…that leads me to my final confession.
- I’m probably too proud. Too proud of my kids, my hubby, my friends, my family and my community. I think we rock. If I met you, I’d probably think you rock, too. But I’ll only think you rock if you don’t condemn the rest of us for being human, if you don’t practice compassion, and if you don’t think before you assume the worst of us. Because you know what happens when you assume, right? I might be ill but I’m not an ass. You’ll have to wear that title by yourself.
If you feel strongly about health care and ensuring coverage for all, call or write (or both!) your elected representatives. Let them know what matters to you so they can make informed decisions.