In politics, sometimes we become so caught up in winning or losing a fight that we forget that behind every bill there is a face and a story of a human being that makes it all happen. Millions of Americans now have affordable health care insurance and millions more will be able to stay on existing plans that they otherwise would not qualify for because of the forward thinking of Pres. Barack Obama.
Almost 50 bills have made it into the hopper to dismantle the ACA. Both the House and the Senate through partisan Republican efforts have gone to extraordinary links inundating media with misinformation and half-truths. But behind it all, there is a story. Behind it all, there our families and individuals who will now have a better quality of life, because they now will be able to get medical attention.
Here is one story that shows how important it is to fight the good fight and to finish the course.
A Face on the Act
First, I will say that some of what I will talk about may be graphic to some people.
The argument over whether or not the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, should be kept, kept and fixed, repealed and replacedor completely repealed is still ongoing. One thing most people on any side of the issue fail to see the human face of the debate. I am one of those faces.
I’m 27 and had health insurance through Tricare (government insurance for our military) until I was 21. I was, admittedly, a dumb college kid at the time and had the stereotypical “I don’t need insurance! I don’t get sick!” thoughts running through my head. For quite a few years, that held true. Unfortunately, late 2010 started to change that mindset.
The day before Thanksgiving in 2010, the left side of my face went numb and no longer worked—it was completely paralyzed. I couldn’t blink my left eye, move the left side of my mouth, nor could I eat get a drink without it spilling out the left corner of my mouth.
When my face first became drooped and paralyzed, the first thing that went through my head was that I was having a stroke. Because I didn’t have insurance, I went online to look at other symptoms of a stroke, but found that I wasn’t having any of other symptoms listed. It didn’t really help with the fear I had at the possibility of having a stroke at age 24, though. However, I did find that it was probably Bell’s Palsy. I was lucky. Eventually, most of the feeling and function came back to the left half of my face. The effects of my bout of Bell’s Palsy are still quite visible in my smile and I still have a few other lingering problems associated with it.
At that point, I decided that health insurance would be a good idea. I applied, and was denied due to a pre-existing condition regarding my ankle—I broke it when I was 13.
A few months later, in early 2011, I was asleep in bed when I got a sudden, sharp pain in my upper-right abdomen. Again, I was terrified and had no idea what was going on. The pain would continue for approximately 6-hours and would become so bad after the first hour that I became nearly incoherent. I would come to learn, after many $1,500 trips to the Emergency Room and many more such bouts of pain, that I had gall stones.
The worst attack came in July of 2012. It was the worst pain I had ever felt and I had vomited all of the contents of my stomach and had begun to vomit pure bile before deciding I needed to go to the emergency room. Whatever injection they gave me, combined with pure physical exhaustion led to me being in a nearly unconscious state for almost 2 day.
Because I didn’t have insurance, I got similar treatment for each ER visit. Blood tests, IV, maybe some pain medication, and, on one trip, an ultrasound. Unfortunately, nothing more than was absolutely necessary to keep me alive and in a manageable amount of pain. I was told on a few occasions that I was on the brink of needing emergency surgery, but not quite there yet. Voluntary surgery was never offered or considered because I didn’t have insurance.
At one point, I found out how much the surgery would cost out of pocket so I could save the money and have it done. Unfortunately, my gallstones continued to worsen to the point that I lost 2 jobs because of the pain they caused me and my inability to drive to work.
I signed up through the healthcare exchange, got insurance and had the surgery I have needed for over three years on March 28, 2014.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, or whatever else you want to call it, I no longer have to suffer through daily pain and periodic bouts of hospitalization.
By Nick Gilby