The Lady Speaks

Parachutes – Healthcare in America

La Lubu at Feministe details the hell she went through after her daughter was born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing just one pound, ten ounces. From the neonatalogist’s practiced speech and her daughter’s health crises to being pink-slipped by her employer and fighting to retain her insurance coverage while fighting for her daughter’s life.

What Color Are the Holes in Your Parachute?

[…] A couple of weeks later, the honeymoon period ended. Her bowel was perforated, she went into sepsis, acquired the aforementioned NEC and a particularly gruesome complication—Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, or DIC for short. Known as “Death Is Coming” to experienced medical personnel. I did not know how bad DIC was at the time; when I tell her NICU story to medical people, and tell them she had it, their jaws tend to drop and their eyes bug out. Surviving DIC isn’t the norm. I held her little hand and quietly sang songs to her, mostly Etta James and Koko Taylor, but some vintage Elton John, Rolling Stones, even some Mary J. Blige. Just, whatever I could think of at the time. I told her what sunsets looked like, ‘cuz her pod was facing west, but the windows were too high for her to see. I told her, just in case she was wondering why the light changed during the day as it moved into night. I tried to describe the taste of salsiccia and stuffed shells to her, piping hot rigatoni with rich, spicy sugu and fresh grated parmesan on top. What the wind felt like on the face and in the hair. All the places we would go and see when she got healthy and got outta there. I wanted to give her something to fight for. And just like on that first day, her respiratory and heart rate, and her oxygen saturation rate would improve as I spoke. It was a battle, and at one point a nurse told me point blank that if I was thinking about getting her baptized, perhaps I’d like to call a priest.And during that time, I thought I was on Family and Medical Leave. After all, I called my employer from the hospital (when I was admitted on bed rest) and asked for it, citing my condition. I called the union hall and asked what paperwork I needed to complete—and found out no one knew. No one had ever asked before. I went home to eat and take a shower before going back to the hospital, and found the pink slip in the mail. Just a pink slip. In an envelope. By itself. No explanation. “Reduction in force” is what it read. And I was madder than a motherfucker. I went out to the hall and was told that it was just a regular layoff, and that I had no recourse, because it says right in the contract that the employer gets to decide who stays and who goes, and what was I mad about anyway, ‘cuz it was just a “reduction in force”, not a firing. At least I’d be able to collect unemployment. I had already done my own research, and had contacted my (union) district’s human rights department, explaining that I was breaking barriers by being the first pregnant electrician, likely to encounter a lot of resistance. Seeing a distinct lack of interest at the hall, I took matters into the capable hands of the Department of Labor. See, I wasn’t concerned about unemployment. What I needed, was health insurance.


Prior to that, I received my first bill from her original hospital. […] But it was about $750,000 just the same. Now remember, that was before the hefty insurance discount was applied.

And I laughed. Yes, I laughed. What the hell else could I do? Who the hell did they think was going to be pulling $750,000 out of her ass? Because it sure wasn’t me.

Healthcare – access to trained medical personnel for both critical needs and preventive care, as well as medications – should not be fucking luxuries in the so-called richest nation on earth.

October 23, 2007 - Posted by | America, Children, Family, Government, Health, Life, SCHIP, White House


  1. Amen. It definately should not be considered a luxury. Healthcare is a basic human right.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, prayers for E and my daughter. Thank your sister as well. It is appreciated more than you know.

    Comment by Mary Alice | October 23, 2007 | Reply

  2. Mary Alice: You are so welcome. Our family lost my brother-in-law to brain cancer 3 years ago this month, and I know how devastating the diagnosis and the treatment can be.

    It took me some time to compose myself after reading your post – as a mom, my heart simply breaks to think of the fear and pain he is dealing with right now. And his family, of course.

    Comment by PA_Lady | October 23, 2007 | Reply

  3. Life is a basic right…seems that access to healthcare would be part of being entitled to life..
    What a sad sad commentary on our values…

    Comment by mom | October 24, 2007 | Reply

  4. Absolutely, Mom.

    To those who complain about “socialized medicine” – perhaps they should look at another area in which the local, state, and federal governments pay (through our taxes) for something else that is considered to be a basic human right and a common good: universal education in grades K-12.

    We have universal education because education was seen as a basic right and a common good.

    Schooling itself is mandatory, but the means is not. Parents who are able to can choose to spend their dollars on homeschooling or on private and parochial schools. [Just as those who wouldn’t want to use “National Health” services (to steal the UK system’s name) would be free to spend their dollars buying plans that allowed them to be seen in private clinics and hospitals not affiliated with the system.]

    For those whose children attend public school – paid for by our taxes whether our children attend public school or not – there are no assets tests, there are no income limits (or minimums), and no child is removed from eligibility because mom or dad or some other household member received a pay raise.

    While there is much wrong with public education today, there is one big right – it is ‘free’ and available to any child in any family, regardless of income.

    Comment by PA_Lady | October 24, 2007 | Reply

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