I have Crohn’s Disease. It is chronic, and there is no cure. Since my diagnosis four and a half years ago, I have lived in fear. My biggest fear has been that my symptoms will flare and I become too ill to work. Without employer-provided health insurance, I bankrupt myself (and perhaps my parents and brother shortly thereafter) trying to control my disease and still, I am unable to afford adequate care.
I am completely functional. I live on my own, hold a steady job, mostly eat and drink whatever I please, and have even run half-marathons. Please, do not dismiss my fears for paranoia.
In December 2008 I graduated from college – a semester early, at the top of my class with well paying job waiting for me, despite the beginning of the financial meltdown only months earlier. In the weeks following my graduation, I suffered from a Crohn’s flare-up and became too ill to routinely partake in everyday activities. I racked up tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills and other medical expenses. My family consulted with labor attorneys and human resources professionals. I deferred my start date for work and eventually walked away from the opportunity all together. I could not afford – literally – to start working and get sick again before I worked long enough to be eligible for COBRA.
I tend to avoid political discourse in online formats and I don’t particularly enjoy arguing about politics. As an adult in the Washington DC area, my lack of interest in political confrontation makes me seem atypical. But it is not because I’m apolitical. I take my civic duty of voting very seriously, I keep up with the news, and there are political issues which I am extremely passionate about. Today I am confident that America’s future involves healthcare reform including insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Regardless of any legislative changes which may alter what that reform looks like, things are improving.
Today, I am less afraid.