Wednesday, November 04, 2009

...but a pre-existing condition is not one of them.


My name is Pamela.

Everyone calls me Shark-Fu or Sharkie or The Shark.

I am one of the millions of Americans covered by health insurance through my employer.

I am one of the millions of women who might not be covered by health insurance through my employer.

I have high blood pressure.

It runs in my family.

My doctor and I came up with a program to monitor and treat it.

My high blood pressure would still be undiagnosed and untreated.

I’m happy to say that my high blood pressure is controlled through medication and diet.

As a result I’d be at risk for a stroke or heart attack that would be economically catastrophic without coverage, so I’d also be at increased risk for bankruptcy…

…if I lived long enough to see those medical bills.

In 2000, I was diagnosed with fibroids and endometriosis.

But at least I’d have a fighting chance at having my fibroids and endometriosis diagnosed. Community providers like Planned Parenthood provide low cost health screenings and I’d find out that I have a condition that is treatable…at a cost.

40 percent of African American women will be diagnosed with fibroids.

After months of treatment from a specialist, my general practitioner recommended, I had surgery in 2001 to remove the fibroids.

But I wouldn’t be able to afford a specialist…or the expense of long term treatment.

Odds are I’d end up having a hysterectomy in my early 30s.

Fibroids are the leading reason women undergo a hysterectomy…

My doctor and I have developed a plan to monitor and treat my fibroids and endometriosis that’s been working well for several years now.

…and hysterectomy is one of the most common surgeries in America.

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

There, but for the grace of coverage, go far too many of us.


Hi again.

My name is Pamela.

You can call me Shark-Fu.

And I am not a pre-existing condition.

I am a woman.

Not a number in an equation, part of a cost/benefit analysis, or a “risk” that needs to be considered.

I’m living proof of the benefits of coverage, affordable treatment and access to medical care.

I am a woman of color.

I am a sister…a girlfriend….a guardian….a warrior…

…an activist.

I stand as an indictment of the status quo that claims the wages of poverty or just getting by or just getting started are disease, illness, pain and/or death.

I am a lot of things...

...but pre-existing condition is not one of them.

My name is Pamela, but you can call me Shark-Fu.

And I took action to urge my Congressman and Senators to pass health care reform legislation that meets the needs to all women and their families THIS YEAR.

Did you?

Will you?

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

We solved the health insurance problem. My wife has ovarian cysts so can't get insurance. We've been without insurance for 4 years since I lost my last job and started my own business.

A couple of weeks ago, we had to go to the ER because my wife was worried about pains relating to her condition. She was scanned and all OK, it went away. But we got a bill for a CAT scan, five minute doctor visit in the mail: $7,000.

If it had been just a rip-off we would probably be figuring out how to pay it now. But $7,000??? It's so far out there, we're just telling the hospital to go fuck themselves and will not pay a penny.

But the hospital is legally obliged to treat you - even if you owe the bastards a million dollars in unpaid bills. If you have a home and a car and can take getting your credit wrecked, I'd advise anyone to do the same. Maybe the only solution will be people standing up and destroying the fucked up system by refusing to cooperate anymore.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Bitch. Very moving and very true.

Erin said...

This was so powerful and moving, Pamela.

berdawn said...

Is it possible to link this to my facebook page? I'd love to share this with my friends.

Shark-Fu said...

Link away! Of course, I have no idea how to do that...but I'm pretty sure it can be done (wink).

EAMD said...

"There, but for the grace of coverage, go far too many of us."

Oh, how I wish more people realized this. There, but for the grace of coverage, genetics, and straight-up luck, go ALL of us.

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