I barely slept last night. I couldn’t get comfortable. Our new kitten decided he needed to sleep on me. It was cold in our room. It was hot in our room. I heard a noise. The cats decided to run through the entire house at top speed.
I scrolled through Twitter and saw all the Tweets of what the new Congress plans on doing to the country. I felt the tension building, again, in my shoulders and in my head.
I went to see my plastic surgeon for the third time in three days, and for the third time in three days, I was forced to reschedule my appointment. Yes, really. I had an appointment for Monday, the 2nd. I had a confirmation call about the appointment. I went to his office on Monday. Office closed for the holidays. So, I started thinking I’d put it in my phone for the wrong day. Stupid me. Yesterday, I went to his office at the same time I’d gone on Monday after arranging for someone to take part of my 2nd period class. I got to the office, and the receptionist told me I didn’t have an appointment scheduled. I told her about Monday. She looked at the schedule, and gee, I was scheduled for an appointment on Monday…when they were closed. Their fault. We’re sorry. She rescheduled it for today at the same time. So, I arranged for someone to watch my 2nd period again and went. I sat in an exam room, in a gown, for 45 minutes. I listened to my doctor go into all the rooms around me. My appointment was at 10:05. At 10:55, I dressed and walked out of the exam room in tears. His medical assistant looked startled. I told her I couldn’t wait anymore because I had committed to covering part of another teacher’s class starting at 11:15. She told me she could have him in to see me in five minutes. Five minutes is not enough time for me to discuss what to do about the fat necrosis that still freaks me out. Five minutes is not enough time for me to discuss what to do about the fact the right foob is a full cup size bigger than the left. Five minutes is not enough time with my doctor. Five minutes is all I would have before I truly had to leave if he actually made it in my room within five minutes. She apologized and sent me to be rescheduled.
I was so angry, I was in tears. The scheduler rescheduled me. Again. For the third time in three days. The new appointment is two weeks out.
I’m an angry crier. I cried as soon as I got into my car. I yelled at the Staples delivery driver who had almost blocked my car in when he made an annoyed face as I tried to back my car out of the space. I called A and cried. I got back into my empty classroom and told a coworker what had happened. She told me to text her the next time something like that happens and she would figure out how to help me. She told me my health and my family matter more, no matter how much I love my school. After she left, I put my head down on my desk for the two minutes I had between talking to her and covering the other class. I spent two minutes with my eyes closed trying to calm myself. Then, I went and covered. I won’t say no to covering someone, not after all the covering that was done for me last year so I could go to a doctor’s appointment or go to chemo or go do a burn treatment thanks to radiation. My principal covered my duty for me at times last year so I could go in the clinic and do a burn treatment, so no, I’m not going to say no to someone who needs help here at work if I can help. Sometimes, I believe strongly in the idea of paying it forward. Covering classes is how I pay forward what people did for me last year.
After I covered the part of her class she needed me to cover, I went out to my car. It’s cold here in Dallas. Arctic front and a chance of snow. Yaaaaaassssss. I love the cold, and I love watching my children experience snow. I hope it actually snows. My luck, though, it won’t simply because I want it to snow (“That’s not how weather works, L!” you might say, but it seems like that’s how my luck works). I wanted to be out in the cold, to enjoy it, to just be for a few minutes. And, stupidly, I got on social media. And, I saw more of the political circus revolving around the ACA. I went to my Rep’s website and found a link called “Your Obamacare Story,” and stupidly thought it was a good thing. Then, I saw how it only wanted negative stories. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, and for the second time in less than I month, I found myself on the phone with an elected official’s office relating to the intern who answered the phone my story.
Not all Obamacare stories are negative, and <Congressional Official> needs to know there are stories like mine where the ACA made sure I had a chance to survive. It’s not perfect. It can be made better, and yes, my insurance premiums have gone up, and my out of pocket expenses have gone up, but you know what? I don’t blame Obamacare. I blame the insurance companies. I blame the drug companies. I blame them because they’re finally required to do their jobs. Let me tell you my story and why I happily pay for my insurance. I’m grateful to still have it.
I’ve worked since I graduated from college in the same job. I’ve paid my own health insurance for seventeen years. I never thought I would need it for anything except if I had kids. I never thought breast cancer would happen to me and certainly, not at 37. Yet, at 37, with no family history and no reason from genetic testing, there I was…with breast cancer. My treatments cost well over one hundred thousand dollars, but I could have them because my insurance company couldn’t drop me, couldn’t enforce annual limits, couldn’t enforce lifetime maximum limits. I’m alive because of my oncologist, who I could see because of my health insurance. I don’t rely on the ACA for coverage. I rely on the ACA for protection. The ASCO publishes a report about cancer care in America, and it talks about how the ACA has helped those of with cancer because of the reasons I listed.
I am a wife. I am a mother. I have two children. I love my husband and my children very much. I want to be able to live as long as I can to maybe see my 11 year old daughter and 8 year old son grow up.
I’m a teacher. I work hard everyday to give back to my community, the community I was raised in, that my parents were raised in, that I raise my children in, because it’s important to me I do something to contribute to my community. My story is not unique, but I’m tired of feeling voiceless, of feeling powerless. You need to know there are people, many people, like me, who without the ACA will find ourselves in danger of losing our HEALTH insurance because we got sick and needed our HEALTH insurance, which is the point of HEALTH insurance. So, please, make sure <Congressional Official> knows there are stories like mine. My story matters. My life matters. My voice matters, and I’m tired of not having a voice.
The intern listened, asked questions, made comments that made me feel like he was actually listening. Then, he asked my name and for my contact information. He told me he would see to it my information and the notes he took were passed along to my representative. Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. But, I’m not going to stop calling my elected officials. You cannot leave those of us with catastrophic illnesses with no safety net. Well, you can, and the GOP is trying, but the question is one of mortality and community, and if you stand on a conservative platform and claim it’s moral to take away access to healthcare from millions, I have to question your sincerity. That’s why I questioned, and still question, my friends and family who voted for Trump, why they voted against my life. How can you say you love me or care about me knowing the outcome would be what I see on social media every day now? One of my family members told me he really didn’t think this would happen. I had to turn and walk away.
Maybe I’m not going about this in the way I should, but my blog and my phone are the only ways I can get my voice heard. I want my elected officials to know there are many, many people like me. I want my elected officials to know taking away access to healthcare for millions with no true plan to replace the ACA is wrong. I want my elected officials to know I exist. I have a voice.
I don’t want to worry every single day that if today is the day my cancer comes back, today could also be the day my insurance company tells me, “Bye Felecia!” and sends me a letter with some bogus reason the company has come up with to drop me from coverage because cancer. I don’t want to worry every single day that if today is the day my cancer comes back, today could be the day my doctor tells me I can’t have a treatment or a surgery because insurance won’t cover it.
I know people who think my life is expendable because I developed cancer. I know people who think it’s my fault I developed cancer. So, I know why people think it’s okay for the GOP to do what they’re proposing.
Since 2017 began, these have been the prevailing thoughts circling in my mind, that keep me up at night (besides the cats), that scare me to my core.
It’s been a long, frustrating day.