Pre-Existing

Please don’t be fooled. I write about fashion and makeup and puppies. I make jokes about reality, and I even dip my toe in fiction. But I am also a human being with real stuff, and just when I thought I could go light, they went heavy.

I have a pre-existing condition. Actually, I have quite a few. For a good chunk of my adult life, I could not get health insurance. I therefore either paid the full, out-of-pocket price, or I didn’t see doctors or get a surgery I needed. I understand that an argument can be made that people like me forced the premiums to skyrocket because we were finally able to get the care we had previously been denied. But also, we were finally able to get the care we had previously been denied.

When I left law school, I could not qualify for health insurance due to the very pre-existing condition that took me out of school to begin with (although the public reason was something like “too fashionista for lawyer,” also known as “too cool for school”). With some combination of necessity and optimism, I continued to pay full-price, out-of-pocket for mental health treatment, but despite chronic pain and necessity, I didn’t see any other doctors for the better part of a decade.

During the primaries and the 2016 campaign, each time a Democrat mentioned the Affordable Care Act, I cried some pride and gratitude tears. Similarly, during the 2016 campaign, I left a glamorous life for one of full-time healthcare to address those pesky pre-existing conditions. I suppose my timing was serendipitous. My premiums continued to climb, but I had access to treatments I otherwise could not have afforded. (Thank you, Mayo Clinic, but also you’re really expensive.)

I quietly ventured on a path toward health that had previously alluded me due to both my lack of insurance and, if we’re being honest, the pre-existing conditions themselves. After a full tour and silent stay at rock bottom, I desperately clutched the new and potentially temporary gift of health insurance. I found the team of doctors, I found the cocktail of treatments, and I found that I could afford them.

My pre-existing conditions are chronic, though. Puppies and kittens and surgeries and doctors and medications and therapy, physical and otherwise, will be my lifetime companions, but they do not cure my condition. They manage it. And this management affords me a previously unknown healthy life, but it is affordable to me through previously unknown insurance coverage. So, maybe it’s time to say something.

Here’s what: I know how serious the situation is, and I will never lose sight of that. However, I will continue to smell the flowers and light the candles and watch the TV and tell the jokes and study the history and analyze the language and wear my latest finds and apply all the makeups and explore the authenticity and play with the puppies and the kittens and write about it all for as long as I have air to breathe and a clear throat to breathe it and a clear head to appreciate it and doctors and meds to help me in doing literally all of these things.

But I also won’t be quiet about it. That is another one of my pre-existing conditions.

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