A Case for Good Health

WritingI just saw the video of the interview Michelle Obama gave to the Rev. Al Sharpton regarding healthcare. No matter your opinion of the Reverend, it’s all about the interview. Michelle spoke about her experience as a young mom who suddenly had a sick child and how helpless a mom feels when she has a child who is sick and there’s nothing you can do to help him or her. It brought tears to my eyes because it brought back memories of my experience. Within a few minutes of my twin’s birth, when they were barely named Marcus (twin A) and Malcolm (twin B ), Marcus was literally taken from my arms and rushed by ambulance from Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati to Children’s Hospital because of an anomaly in his heart. As it turned out, besides being born eleven weeks early, Marcus was born with Pulmonary Valve Stenosis. Within the first two months of his life spent in neonatal care, he underwent two open heart surgeries. He died during one of those surgeries and was revived. Due to the lack of oxygen to his brain, he developed cerebral palsy. This left him 100 percent disabled with cortical visual impairment, meaning he was blind because of the brain damage.

I was 22 years old at the time. Since I’m a woman and women learn early the importance of annual exams, I was smart enough to have health insurance.

The bills came in. I saw what the insurance company paid to the hospital and what our portion was. Our portion wasn’t much, but I was a young mother who suddenly had to leave work. My husband at the time made just below seven dollars an hour because he was going through training at a new job. This made me the bread-winner, and I only made a little more than 20 grand a year. I stopped calculating the hospital bills after two hundred thousand. Our portion was a few thousand of that. Even that was a bit much. We had no money, twins, and one who was gravely ill.

Marcus came home and because he was insured, I was able to get Marcus lots of therapy, both physical and occupational and regular visits from a therapist from the Cincinnati Association for the Blind. We got three years with Marcus, and in those three years, because he had health insurance he was not in need of ANYTHING. Marcus was a happy baby with a brilliant, beautiful, and large smile. He had my smile.

When I read some of the opposition to the healthcare law, I get angry. It does make me sad. It leaves me speechless most times. I find it appalling when I hear and see people worth millions of dollars (lawmakers and television/radio personalities)…people who will not have to worry if they or a family member got sick convince people they don’t need/want health insurance or deny people who could get it the opportunity to have it. Do you think that if you lost your home or personal wealth due to a health crisis they would call you a responsible American? Even if you did everything they’d advised? Do you think if you went through what I went through and you didn’t have healthcare, they would care? Think hard about that.

Having a healthy child is something we sometimes take for granted. Health is something we take for granted. When I turned 40 I was diagnosed with Lupus. This disease is not the result of living a dangerous lifestyle. Rheumatoid Arthritis runs in my family, so it isn’t surprising to me that I would inherit this disease. It is very common for women (1 in 12), especially over 40 to be diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. But just as I was diagnosed with Lupus, a healthy male co-worker went to an optometrist one day and was told to go immediately to the hospital–to not even go home. He called his wife and told her to meet him there. Turned out he had a large brain tumor and needed surgery immediately. A wonderful friend of mine was, one day running marathons and kayaking, and years later confined to a wheelchair—robbed by Multiple sclerosis. These illnesses do not care what political party you pull the level for. It can happen to anyone.

The argument that people are losing their doctor of choice because of the healthcare law also infuriates me. I have insurance provided by my employer and sometimes policies and providers change. I’ve had to change doctors, hospitals–even my rheumatologist. The argument that this happens just because of the healthcare law is bogus. It happens!

We need to get over ourselves in this country. We need to find our way back to community, back to humanity. If I have to pay 40 to 100 dollars more so that my neighbor can have healthcare, then sign me up. Is our need for the biggest house, the fastest car, the largest bank account worth watching people die, needlessly in the wealthiest country, with the most innovative medical technology? Am I worried that someone less deserving will get healthcare at my expense? The day we think that is the day we become less deserving as a country. NO ONE is less deserving of good health.

Obama vs Obamacare

WritingI have to admit, I’m one of those democrats that is quite miffed at the WH for the ‘fumbled’ roll-out of the ACA website. Don’t misunderstand me, I support the ACA 100%, but the way the website was rolled out is inexcusable. I don’t have any sympathy for the people who are crying about losing substandard policies. I say, let ’em keep it since they liked what they had so much. They just better pray they never have to use it–and if they do and end up getting dropped or hit with an astronomical bill because they thought they were covered, then too bad. They can’t come crying on the shoulders of the consumer protections provided by the ACA. All the clichés come to mind, reap what you sow, be careful for what you wish you, you might just get it, etc. Whoa, went off on a tangent there. Back to what I was saying.

The republicans have tried to repeal the ACA 40+ times. It is mystifying to me that the project management of the roll-out of the website wasn’t top notch. It is inexcusable. If you have 49 million uninsured people, you would think that the first order of business would be to have servers that could handle at the very least, 5% of that at any given time. It’s basic IT. I won’t get into procurement and all that other stuff, but you get the point. Anyway, I sometimes wonder if the President suffers from some sort of abandonment issues. It is like he wants to wake up one day and suddenly the parent that left has returned. In this case, he wants to wake up one day and suddenly the Republican Party likes him.

No, President they hate you. They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow.

Every day they wake up they are reminded that the President of the United States is black, the instructions they read are in both Spanish and English, and Mike Brady was gay. Their world has changed, is changing and worst yet, was never what they thought it was in the first place. They say they want to return the country to what the founding fathers intended. Well, in the days of the founding fathers people that were different were burned at the stake, blacks were shackled, women didn’t vote, and the red men were killed for their land. Yeah, that’s what they claim they want to return to, or at least some semblance of it.

If you were white, they’d love you. Hell, you gave the kill order for Osama bin Laden! You’d think that would have appeased them. Instead, there are deniers that say he’s not dead or that you should have captured him alive (and put him in jail where, I wonder). They wish it was Bush. They wanted it to be Bush. It wasn’t Bush. They’re even trying to convince themselves that Iraq had WMDs. Maybe they gave them to Syria, they’re saying. Pity the fools. No, you had to go and kill America’s number one enemy and all the others fall away too. They hate that. They call you socialist, mostly because they don’t understand the meaning of the word. A more socialist president would have given us Medicare for all instead of the market-driven ACA that involves insurance companies competing for business. After-all, competition is the heart of capitalism NOT socialism. Government takeover of healthcare my ass. Again, another tangent. Back to what I was saying.

You may be wondering why they hate you. You are, after all the opposite of what they think of black men. You are HIGHLY educated, articulate, dresses well-no hoodie, you’re still married to your babies momma, you may have been a beneficiary of Affirmative Action, but you paid it forward when you graduated from Harvard Law by going to work as a community organizer in the low-income neighborhood that nurtured you instead of heading off for a more lucrative gig that would have paid you a six figure income and paid off your student loans. Yeah, I’m thinking about John Grisham’s The Firm (See Senator Rand Paul, that’s how you cite sources). Your humble roots seem to suggest that you pulled yourself up by your sneakers. Perhaps it is because you’ve never claimed to have pulled yourself up by your own sneakers that they hate you so much. You never claimed to have built that by yourself. I have bad news for you Mr. President, that’s not it either.

They will wake up one day and Texas and California will look like it did before the Alamo. The Dixie Democrats that became the modern day Republican Party fear that just as much as they feared desegregation. They’re hanging on by the tread of gerrymandering and voter suppression laws. It’s their modern-day Alamo and they intend to fight it to the last drop of someone else’s blood!

So, you see, Mr. President, you’re the bastard child that was never supposed to amount to anything. TARP passed because it started with the Bush. Not to mention the real leaders of the American political system, Wall Street, had the American economy in a noose. The ACA was never supposed to pass. Not because republicans don’t agree with personal responsibility, after-all the ACA was their idea before you changed your mind about it and supported it. Hell, even one their own passed it into law in Massachusetts and said, at the time (before he became a presidential candidate and had to run away from it because YOU modeled the ACA after it) that it should be a model for the country. The conservative think tank that scores politicians that support anything you have your name on, the Heritage Foundation, wrote the darn thing. So, why would they hate it? They don’t hate it, Mr. President. They hate you. It is a hard hard hard fact, but it is time for you to take that deep breath and embrace it the same way a child embraces that an absent parent isn’t coming back.

So, why, I ask again, did you allow your people to fumble the roll-out of the ACA website? Did you think the republicans would all of a sudden embrace the ACA and actually begin working with you like the democrats worked with the republicans on the roll-out of Medicare Part B? Wishful thinking Mr. President. And by the way, good luck in getting John Boehner to put any meaningful legislature on the house floor for a vote over the next three years. Don’t pity John Boehner for being held hostage by a bunch of crazies. He’s implicated in the scheme. They will punish you for passing something this big. Again, it’s not because they hate the idea. It was their idea. It’s because YOU, the bastard child who was never supposed to be president, name is on it.
The Dixie Democrats can’t go home to their districts and be seen as the person who worked with the black guy in the White House. Take it personal. It is personal. Why else would they not vote on or vote against things that an overwhelming number of Americans support? They can’t do it because YOU are in the White House.

When you leave office, there will probably be a comprehensive immigration bill, a farm bill, a budget, feasible amendments to the ACA, an infrastructure bill, stimulus, a raise in the minimum wage, and no utter of the word, deficit, which by the way most of them don’t know the meaning of anyway.

To save your presidency, you have to begin by putting your middle-finger up at all them and remember that the best revenge is success. They’re not going to like you and they’re not going to help you, so get it done. Or at the very least, make sure IT GETS DONE. History will be kind to you.

Gays, blacks, the Bible, and a Duck

WritingI’ve been silent about this as I watch all the drama unfold from the sidelines. Now, with an Alabama lawmaker moving to formally honor Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, it’s time for me to speak my piece. To be clear, I don’t watch nor do I care to watch, and I’m pretty darn sure I will never intentionally watch Duck Dynasty. Scripted Reality-TV isn’t my thing. I have other ways to waste my time.

Phil Robertson didn’t just make comments against homosexual people. He also said that black people were happier when they were subservient to whites, with the social prowess that could only be equal with classless white people. They went from being subservient happy Godly folks to welfare queens and worthless people who only wants government handouts. That part of his statement got swept away by the supposed infringement of his religious freedom because of his views about gay people.

The uproar isn’t that Phil Robertson voiced his bigoted 1st Century views about race and homosexuality. The uproar is that there was uproar about his bigoted 1st Century views about race and homosexuality. So, is there a lesson to be learned here? For me, it simply reiterate what I’ve known to be true all along; that for certain segments of the population, it is okay to make derogatory comments about them and chances are you will not suffer any consequence for it, and may even be rewarded for it.

It is okay to make comments against or discriminate against gays and lesbians because the Bible gives you the right to. It is Freedom of Religion to not afford our gay and lesbians friends the same rights and liberties afforded to heterosexuals.

It is okay to make comments about blacks or African-Americans or wave the Confederate Flag and claim it is part of your culture heritage or ‘Freedom of Speech’. If black people raise awareness of racism they are accused of playing the race card or inciting hatred and they just need to ‘get over it.’ Racism isn’t racism until it is called out by a white person.

It is okay to call Muslims terrorists, militants, and suicide bombers and enact laws that’s reminiscent of the WWII era when Japanese Americans were put in internment camps. A Muslim fighting in a war will always be referred to as a militant and never a soldier.

A member of Congress can call Mexicans wetbacks, and not be required to resign. Another can reduce them to the size of their calves because they’re carrying drugs over the border…and he’s still in Congress.

Phil Robertson has a right to choose not to understand homosexuality. He has the right to have his views about race. The Bible is used to justify homophobia in much the same way it was used to justify the institution of slavery. If you use the Bible as absolute about gays and lesbians, then you have to be absolutist about adulterers, women, killing people who are not Christians, killing atheists, sacrificing your first born, getting tattoos, eating shell fish….the list goes on.

It seems to me that many Christians pick and choose what they’re going to be absolute about. The problem that Christians face is when they will stop allowing their Bible to be used to justify ignorance?


Write something else

WritingIt’s been nine years since my last novel, As We Lay was published. Since that time I’ve lingered between the write, rewrite, write something else, what am I writing about, phases.  I started on a novel, I believe it was called, All that Glittersback then and not long after I started it, I scrapped the proposal. I had an idea in my mind about the novel, but I struggled connecting the story. That story eventually became something else. Again, I had a story, but something wasn’t connecting.  This went on for several years. Have any of you fellow writers ever gone through something like this? I hesitated calling it writer’s block, but as I research the condition I have to concede that that’s exactly what it was.My writer’s block took on many characteristics over the years and for a very long time I was in denial about being afflicted with the condition. It’s nine years later and I finally have a finished product that I’m excited about and anxious to share with the former and new readers of my work! It’s been too long. I sometimes cannot believe how long it’s been. In fact, I had to look at the copyright date of the original edition of As We Lay to confirm the release date. As the saying goes, ‘Time stand still for no man’.

I’m excited about By the Waters of Zion and excited about diving into discussions about the novel. I believe this novel was well worth the wait. As I read the novel, it feels good. It feels like the novel I’d been trying to write for the past nine years, but just couldn’t quite get there.  When I wrote the last line of the last paragraph of By the Waters of Zion, which has only been tweaked over the years and through numerous versions and titles, I thought that this is it. This is the story I’d been trying to write, and it was worth the wait and worth the patience it required to stick with it.

Throughout, I never gave up on writing. I am a writer. I am best when I’m writing. I knew that I would write a story—this story or some other story.  I knew I was going to write. It was important to me to write THIS story. I kept at it until I finished and I reread it and t felt right. I kept listening to the characters’ whispers. Those whispers became inspiration to keep trying to get it right. Like every writer, I felt like it Alexa’s story was worth telling. I didn’t want to give up on her and I’m glad she didn’t give up on me.

This is my first blog for my new website. The goal is to blog often about various topics. I am free spirit with varied interest and at times I’m fiercely political with a biased opinion. My opinions are my own and I do not pretend to represent the opinion of anyone else, not even my children. Welcome to my new website. I hope you enjoy the new novel and stay engage with me. –Darlene