I ran across a thread on blogHer that asked to post a link to your first blog post. I had to think for a minute because although I have been blogging after a fashion for a while, what I would consider my first actual blog post is a post I made on a well known progressive site, DailyKos.
Since that time I have gone from MovableType to WordPress and have yet to find the time to convert the old posts over. SO for this particular post I am going to repost it here. Enjoy!
The Audacity of Hope – what a title! I have literally lived that in the last few years while I watched my son deal with being diagnosed at 16 years of age with terminal cancer. It was just that kind of audacity that he exhibited from the time we were told that he had a tumor until the very day he passed away. The medical staff at the hospitals where he was treated all to a man/woman would agree with the sentiment that he never spent time feeling sorry for himself, was always extremely positive and lived his life as though there were nothing seriously wrong with him. His friends and classmates were unaware that he was even sick in the first place.
It was during that time, that I was introduced to one of the key issues that have been raised during this campaign, healthcare. Something we all take for granted those of us who are fortunate to even have in the first place. We do not think anything of it until we need to use it and then we are granted an instant “baptism by fire” where we learn what the term “health insurance” really means.
When my son was initially diagnosed, he was an inpatient in the hospital and he was covered under his father’s insurance, as I was not working at that time. There was ultimately a point at which the hospital decided that he, my son would get better treatment in another facility and so the decision was made to transfer him. Me being the Virgo I am, called the insurance company to make sure that whatever needed to be done was taken care of prior to because I didn’t want to get hit with a hospital bill that they wouldn’t cover. I remember clearly calling on a Friday and being told that the policy under which my son was covered was due to expire the following day – Saturday. After many more calls, I found out the reason for this was that his father’s union which had been without a contract for over a year or so had not been paying their portion of the premiums and that the company that he worked for (think major arena), had not been paying their share either – and so the insurance company was set to cancel the policy. Main point here – neither the union nor the employer notified the workers. I was only lucky/unlucky to call and found out that way. The policy was cancelled and the result for my son was that he wound up staying in the hospital that he was in because the hospital that he was going to would not accept him without any insurance coverage. In fact at that time his condition had stabilized to the point where his doctors actually were going to send him home for a week or two prior to his having to have surgery to remove a tumor and it coincided with his birthday.
Imagine how, you would feel if at the age of 16, you had been in the hospital for two months,(during summer) and were told that you were going to go home and in fact be home for your birthday and the day before you were set to go you were told that it’s not going to happen. That you had packed all your things, and were full of the exuberance of a 16 year old, and then to be told not only that you were not going home, but that no one was sure when you could go home because if he left the hospital he would have been left uninsured and not covered by Medicaid(only if he stayed in hospital was he covered).
We were told about applying for Medicaid and it was not really a viable option because of the income and asset guidelines in place. That is not to say I am or was independently wealthy and could afford to pay those hospital bills out of pocket. Those of you who are familiar with Medicaid guidelines can attest to the fact that you basically can’t have anything in order to obtain Medicaid coverage.
So instead of going home he was stuck in the hospital waiting to see when the insurance issue would be resolved. Apparently, me calling the press at the time gave some extra incentive for both sides to somehow get the policy reinstated about a week and a half later. At that point, he was transferred to a new facility, and had the surgery and was ultimately able to go home a few weeks later.
A week after that he went back for the first day of High School – his senior year. He had expressed on numerous occasions that he wanted to finish out his senior year on time, that he felt that he had worked so hard to get to that point that he wanted to finish. That he did. Graduating as valedictorian of his class with honors, he went on to his freshman year as a civil Engineering student at Drexel University with a substantial academic scholarship that allowed him to even be able to go in the first place.
Here another issue – and in particular education, the giving of stipends or grants for college students in exchange for their service. I am absolutely positive that had such a program been in place that my son would have most assuredly availed himself of it. He spent a great deal of time concerned about me being able to finance his going to college. He also was already involved in the community as he had served on the youth council at his local precinct for several years and was involved in local community projects when he went to Drexel.
We actually talked about Obama – I gave him the book “The Audacity of Hope” to read and he had in fact read it and signed up to volunteer at the barackobama.com website. Knowing him, he would have been right out in the streets with the other students getting folks registered and rallying up support for Obama. I was enlightened after his passing as to how many different people from different walks of life he had befriended during his brief journey here. The day he passed, I received emails from as far away as France offering condolences and even across religious lines from people from various beliefs or none at all. Not on a few occasions, the remark was made that it was phenomenal how someone could affect so many different people so profoundly in so short a time. When I look at this campaign and how far Barack Obama has come, I am not truly surprised.
When some of the negative aspects of this campaign flare up as they have been most assuredly through the last few weeks in particularly, I see them for what they are and how my son saw them as merely bumps in the road that have to be maneuvered around. However, for me it is a little more personal. The issues are irrevocably intertwined with my own personal experiences of the last few years. Supporting senator Obama’s campaign for me is not a trendy thing to do, it is not hip or the “in thing”. It’s not something that I as an African American do out of some misplaced loyalty because of his ethnicity(half of it anyway). I do it because it’s the only thing I can do based on what I have experienced and seen in my own life and the hope of a better future not just for myself but for everyone in this country irrespective of race or creed.
“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator, with certain, unalienable rights, that among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – Declaration of Independence