One argument for universal health care in America
Health care that only provides pain management in a hospice environment is fucked up. Think about it: your health care is only willing to pay for you to die happy so that your relatives do not see you \”expire while in pain.\” Health insurance companies want those last moments to be peaceful, and yet they are not willing to help you allow what time you have be comfortable, manageable, and without pain. That is a seriously fucked up mentality.
Yes, pain management is more expensive for private health care plans for those with a life expectancy for more than six months, but those who are not due to \”expire\” any time soon and are in chronic severe pain are much more likely to apply for private or federal disability, and sometimes both. This costs not only the private health insurance companies and employers, but hits the taxpayers extremely hard.
Does it not, therefore, make more sense to make health care a public service with all people being able to receive access to all needed medical services, despite financial status? If more people could afford their medications, treatments, pain management, preventive care, and palliative care, there would be far fewer people succumbing to chronic and debilitating illness, disease, and injuries.
Anger and Social Pressure
by Lisa Lorden at FM Aware
Much has been written about the difficulties of living with an invisible illness or disability. Well-meaning friends and acquaintances who say, \”But you look good,\” can touch off a sense of isolation and the feeling that no one understands what you\’re going through.
The word disability is defined in the dictionary as \”a disadvantage or deficiency, especially a physical or mental impairment that prevents or restricts normal achievement\” or \”something that hinders or incapacitates.\” However, our visually oriented society may not take the time to look beyond appearances. People tend to believe what they see; and if it can\’t be seen, it simply doesn\’t exist.
When our lab tests appear \”normal\” and people keep telling us we look good, some of us with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia may even have doubts about our own illness. These feelings are familiar to many of us who have been sick for a significant period of time. But sometimes having an invisible disability can touch our lives in unimagined ways, triggering new hurts. I\’ll never forget the day it first happened to me.
It was a clear, sunny day and the weather was glorious. Yet despite the sunshine, I was struggling with excruciating fatigue. I needed to go to the bank and I dragged myself on this one errand, knowing that as soon as I finished, I could return home and lie down. I pulled my car into the parking space closest to the building, between those blue lines that indicate parking for the disabled or handicapped. One of the privileges I have come to count on in coping with my illness is my blue disabled parking permit. When doing an errand or two would be an insurmountable task if not for the ability to park close-by, the blue tag I hang from my rearview mirror allows me to function in ways I otherwise could not.
As I got out of the car, a woman approached me. \”I hope you feel good about parking there,\” she said sarcastically. I was caught off guard, and responded dumbly, \”What?\” and looked at her, not sure if I had heard her correctly. \”I hope you\’re happy, \” she said, \”taking a space that\’s for the handicapped.\” My heart was beating furiously. \”I do have a permit,\” I stammered. \”Well, \” she said, disdain all over her face, \”you look like you can walk fine to me–you\’re about as handicapped as I am!\”
I was stunned. I stood there mute, horrified, but unable to even defend myself. It wasn\’t until she walked away that the tears began to roll down my face. I started to think about all the things I could have said–should have said–how I might have made her understand. Instead, I felt ashamed–that my disability is not apparent–and I felt crushed by this woman\’s cruel judgment of me when she had no idea how much I have suffered.
I now know that this happens to lots of people. I\’ve heard many stories like mine about people with invisible disabilities who are accosted by \”do-gooders\” intent on protecting the rights of those for whom the parking spaces are reserved. In an essay in the Los Angeles Times, Connie Kennemer–who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and had a similar confrontation–writes, \”I feel violated by a self-righteous and judgmental society that narrowly defines disability. I am not in a wheel chair. My handicap is hidden. Do these facts eliminate the possibility that I share the same limitations as those who are visibly disabled?\”
For many with fibromyalgia (FM) or other invisible illnesses, that blue permit allows us to live our lives more \”normally\” by helping us complete seemingly easy tasks–like grocery shopping or a stop at the dry cleaners–that would otherwise be exhausting, extremely painful, or completely overwhelming. Says one writer who calls herself the Invisible Disabilities Advocate: \”these spaces do not make life easy, they make it possible.\”
Errands like these may seem trivial to some, but they are precious and essential to those of us who struggle with illness and disability on a daily basis. Writes Kennemer, \”I want to shout at the world, \’give me a break! I\’ll give you this handy placard if you\’ll take my disease! Deal?\’\”
While it may not be possible to make sure everyone is knowledgeable about invisible disabilities, we can take care of ourselves. Many people who sorely need a disabled parking permit hesitate to get one for fear of confronting the ignorant reactions of others. Others who do have permits hesitate to use the very privilege that was designed to assist them. Why do we feel ashamed? Wouldn\’t we readily give up this privilege if it meant having the health and energy we used to have? We must stop feeling guilty about our limitations, in order to do what we need to do to live the fullest lives we possibly can. If you feel you need a disabled parking permit, your doctor can usually help you with this; or contact the vehicle licensing agency in your state to find out how to apply.
In all likelihood, I\’ll continue to wrestle with others\’ perceptions of my apparent \”good health.\” But the next time someone confronts me and my blue placard, I\’ll be prepared. On one online message board, a member posted a letter to Ann Landers written by someone who\’d had back and knee surgeries, but looked to be healthy. One day when she used her parking placard in a handicapped space, a man approached her and said, \”You certainly don\’t look handicapped to me. You should not be parking in that space.\” She replied, \”And you, sir, look intelligent, but I guess looks can be deceiving.\”
This past Friday night, yet another SOIYA-WAFB (Self-Obsessed Insensitive Yuppie Asshole With Alcohol For Brains) angered me with one two second action that I thought was going to cause me to send my fist through his inflamed corpuscle nose. Fortunately, I realized in mid-confrontation spin that to do so would only hurt my body even more than it was already hurting, and that the SOIYA-WAFB was too drunk for a beating to make much of an impact upon him — he would be hurting the next day with a hangover, anyway.
Retrospect is always a 20/20 bitch, however, and at the time my vision was entirely clouded with rage. Despite managing to contain myself from decking the jerk, I was unable to come up with a suitable reaction, and instead angrily sputtered about how the guy should keep his lousy frat-boy mentality to himself before he seriously hurt someone. He non-chalantly implied that he really didn\’t give a rat\’s ass and that there was no way in hell that he could hurt somebody with his actions.
My head spun with what I was hearing — bad music plus bad rhetoric both found in what is supposedly the new hub of happening in my town, in my opinion, equals the epitome of all that is going wrong (or actually, has always been wrong) with this country: the insistence the non-mainstream cultures have on being ignorant toward the fact that they really are as ignorant and uncultured as the mainstream. (But I digress; that is another thought for another end.) With the SOIYA-WAFB\’s self-proclaimed insistence upon insensitivity, I could not muster a single coherent thought other than a complete and utter primal fixation upon the fixation of my tightened and trembling right fist. As it started to throb with the pulsation of the blood in my head, I turned on my heel and walked away, only to sit and stew in my own gimpy juices for the rest of the night.
Civil Rights for Gimps
Reading the above article reminded me how right pacifists can be… but sometimes also how wrong. With the 39th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday civil rights march occurring today, I find myself, as usual of late, completely torn as to what I believe, what I think, and what I feel. I was raised to believe in non-violence, to fight fire with water, that sticks and stones would not break my bones and words would never blah blah blah. But despite all the things I faced while growing up, I never felt like this before.
Twenty-something angst, I suppose. Still too short in the pants to have really lived or to know up from down. I thought nothing could make me angrier than being sexually molested. That nothing could make me more incensed than watching people I loved hurt and being completely helpless in the matter. There was no way anything would leave me feeling more enraged than having my fiancÃ© marry someone else while still being engaged to me. The possibility of anything upsetting me more than having to leave the people I had most loved was absolutely nil. The combination of all the above on top of being a spectator in my life and the world around me was, of course, the most painful part of all. Wrong. Dead fucking wrong. Never been so wrong in my entire life.
I still do not know what caused it, and maybe I never will — maybe it was just suddenly crossing over into a threshold of mental maturity that western society no longer encourages these days. (e.g. a mental state where I no longer come first and what I think and feel is no longer the most important thing in my little realm of existence.) Somewhere along the line, the worst things that could happen and that were happening were no longer the things that were affecting only me and the people directly within my little circle of the world. Somewhere, somehow, the worst things became the absolute injustice and disparity that people within my circle (or perhaps my old circle; sometimes I am not sure I have a so-called circle anymore) overlook and either inadvertently or sometimes purposefully cause to those who could just as easily be a part of their \”community.\” But the problem with community is that these days, it is hard to know what, exactly, community is, and which, exactly, is yours.
Everybody Thinks That They\’re Gonna Get Theirs
I am fucking sick of watching the news, reading articles or blogs or web sites, and listening to people talk about how X group is the only marginalized group left in America. Be it gay communities; trans communities; queer communities; racial communities; physically handicapped communities; mentally handicapped communities; religious/no religion communities; extreme right/extreme left/no government communities; feminist communities; or smiling mimes who laugh, wear color and talk communities, everything motherfucking community or lack thereof in America seem to think they are the last marginalized group left in America. They are \”the only ones left\” whom it is \”okay to discriminate against.\”
Wake up and smell the no-carb protein shake, assholes — there is no equality in America and every minority is still being discriminated against. There still are no equal rights, except in some cases on paper, and in a lot of cases those do not even make it to trial if you try and prove your right to them in court. If you happen to be a combination of more than one minority, you can essentially kiss your \”life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness\” behind. We are no longer a democratically run society; we are no longer a country that actually upholds its own laws.
Acronyms like \”EOE,\” \”EHO,\” and \”ADA\” are no longer anything but ad copy. Designed to make the companies look good, the acronyms rarely hold up in court, because in a world where business entities are people, no actual person can actually afford to take a business to court to prove they have been mistreated. Those who attempt to take the government on are met with an even greater task. When was the last time the U.S. had a court case brought by a single person without a legal background against a branch of the government, in which the court actually ruled on the side of the person over the government, thus overturning, enforcing, changing, or creating a law? Or, if it is happening, why do we not hear about it?
The media would like us to believe that what is important and what people really care about are situations like the Martha Stewart case, where $40,000 was at stake, and no jobs. Yes, it was a case of insider trading, and everybody likes a scapegoat, particularly one who is a notoriously bitchy woman with legions of middle upper class, white, female fans as her demographic. Bringing her down is a victory for the people — can we not see that? She represents all the evil in America, as the (ex-) wife of an upper-middle class, white male from New England. The fact that she was a self made business woman who micromanaged the hell out of all things domestic — in fact, made herself a billionaire out of the truffles and trifles that women with jobs that require overtime can only dream of — is only worse. Bring her down! Who cares that Enron and Worldcom actually cost thousands of people their jobs and millions of dollars? This woman made us feel like hell all the world over and those bigwig corporate execs are just nameless, faceless, no personality or public persona bastards! Burn the witch! Light the faggots! Kill \’em all…
Oh god, I have spent way too much time this weekend immersed in an almost complete spectrum of every class status here in D.C. Having to keep my mouth shut and observe the nearly unbelievable differences in just a few short blocks, bouncing between ghetto and posh, gentry and impoverished, newly gentrified to always been upscale to going to be gentrified soon, has just about done my head in. I always consider this city to be ass, so it is incredibly hard for me to remember that most of the world and a great deal of my fellow neighbors consider this to be a sophisticated place. That\’s not from a tourist\’s viewpoint, either. Thoughts on that, later. I can only spew so much at once these days.