For the Common Good

Posted on Thursday 18 October 2012

Nicholas Kristof writes about Scott Androes, a college friend of his that had taken a gamble and is paying the price. You can read the two columns about Scott here and here.

The story of Scott Androes hits home for me. In many ways it would have been Gee’s story had she and I not met. Her plans to go off to grad school in Seattle were there and she was going ahead with them, even after we met.

It was only because we had met and realized she and I loved each other and wanted to spend our lives together that Gee decided to give up her dream of going to grad school in Seattle. In January of 2000, Gee had decided that being with me, the man she loved, was more important than staying in Seattle—that there were other grad schools that taught what she wanted to learn but only one person she loved.

If we had never met, Gee would have been 3000 miles away from her family. It is very likely that her pancreatic cancer—which ultimately killed her—probably would not have been diagnosed for another month or so. And when it was diagnosed Gee would have been alone, without medical insurance and without the love and care I gave her.

I have no regrets about marrying Gee. I consider every day I had with her a blessing and a gift. Gee was the most gracious of people I have ever known and being her husband and being loved by her was her greatest gift to me. A good example of her grace was the story I tell here.

In 2006, I learned what it might have been like for Gee had we not met. My gallbladder had become gangrenous from a series of massive gallstone attacks over the course of a week. Early in the morning of October 10, I was taken to the hospital.

When I got there, the doctors weren’t sure what was wrong with me and had me in the cardiac care unit. Only after a few days did they realize it was my gallbladder and they prepped me for laparoscopic surgery. Once the surgeon saw the extent of the damage, he had to perform a traditional gall bladder operation to make sure that he could remove all the necrotic tissue. I have the seven-inch long scar to show for it.

I know what it is like to be in the hospital, not sure of what is going on, with no one there for you. I am glad I saved my beautiful Gee from that fate—Gee never had to be alone—I was always by her side.

Gee’s medical bills, for her surgery, her doctor appointments, the hospitalizations caused by her cancer, and her chemotherapy and radiation therapy visits would have cost us well over $750,000. That doesn’t include the cost of her medications—of which she had dozens of prescriptions.

Fortunately, I had good health insurance, and due to the foresight and generosity of my employer, Gee was covered as my domestic partner. Our bills were manageable, and did not bankrupt us as happens to so many families with catastrophic medical issues such as Gee’s. We were lucky. Scott was not.

If you care about your fellow man, you must understand that the USA is the ONLY INDUSTRIALIZED NATION that does not have universal coverage.

President Obama is changing that. It is what is right and what is civilized. If Obama is re-elected, we will no longer be the lone holdout to compassion. We will finally have universal coverage without exception for pre-existing conditions—something that is for the common good of all.

Gee’s illness was a pre-existing condition that prevented us from having the same options we would have when Obamacare comes to pass. The only argument Gee and I had in our short time together had to do with her being unhappy that I was working for a boss who made me miserable.

My reply to her was simple: “I would rather be miserable at work and know that you—the woman I love—are covered and taken care of—because taking care of you is my first priority—my most important duty. If I switched jobs now, I wouldn’t be able to get you medical insurance because you have a pre-existing condition.” Gee knew I had won that argument.

If Romney is elected, he would throw all that away. Can our great nation really afford to elect someone that sees almost half of our citizens as parasites. That is what Romney called the 47%. He affirmed his view and his words for weeks—at least until he realized the public was against him.

I do not believe we can take that risk. I do not believe that we can afford to have Mitt Romney—someone so arrogant, so out of touch with the common man and so amoral—in the greatest office in this land.

I do not think that Obama is perfect or right in all that he has done. But much of what he has done—he has had to do to counter the obstructionist and divisive tactics used by the GOP in their pledge to limit Obama to a single term.

I would rather support Obama and people would would work for the people they were elected to serve, than support the GOP which has proven it is only there to serve itself and its financial backers.

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