Recently, the GOP unveiled its new plan to kill us all health care bill, and, understandably, just about every spoonie in America took to blogs and social media to vent their emotions.
I was not one of them because I need time to process things like this before I can talk about them. Well, actually, I can’t even process this right now. It’s too scary. I have eight (8!) pre-existing conditions, I’m on multiple medications, and I depend on weekly outpatient care.
So…if all that goes away all of a sudden, I might just land back in the hospital, only this time, I’ll have no way to pay for it!! (Can you see why I can’t process this right now?)
One of the posts concerning this topic that caught my eye and reeled me in was a very blunt article on Huffington Post entitled “Why Do Republicans Think It’s OK That I Die?”. The article was written by veteran TV news writer/producer, and author Nika C. Beamon.
I don’t mince words, either, so when somebody is as forthright as I am, I’m drawn to them like a magnet. I immediately contacted her for an interview.
Below is the result of that interview, but before I go into that, I want to ask a blunt question myself:
Is the new GOP bill a gigantic (and sickening) bow to corporate greed, or is it something more than that?
At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist (which, I am, by the way), is the government trying to thin the herd?
Think about it. I mean, really think about it.
This is a “health care” bill designed to make sure that the poorest, sickest, most vulnerable Americans might be unable to get the medical care they need just to survive!
Literally, while the richest of the rich fly around in private jets, travel on yachts, and dine with celebrities…people with chronic illnesses could be dying by the hospital-full!
Doesn’t that make you question the underlying motives of this bill just a little bit?
Is it just me?
Here’s what Nika had to say:
1) When did you first realize you had a chronic illness?
My chronic illness began presenting itself when I was around 17 years old and heading to college in Boston. Over the next four years, I progressively got worse. I sought help from various doctors, including a hematologist and was told that I probably had mono or some other common illness, even though tests did not show it.
As my twenties progressed, I rapidly declined. I suffered two TIAs [mini strokes], a massive hemorrhage that nearly killed me, I had a Nissen fundoplication to rebuild my stomach, and I was facing a surgical lymph node biopsy before the 26th doctor diagnosed me with IgG4-related systemic disease [a rare, genetic autoimmune disease].
2) How long did it take you to get the diagnosis and treatment you need? (Or, what was your “I Told You I Was Sick” moment?)
It took me nearly 18 years to finally learn that I was truly sick with an autoimmune disease. While I also learned I couldn’t be cured, I discovered that there were powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, pain medications, and other pills to help me process insulin that could lessen my symptoms. However, since my condition wasn’t treated properly for years, I needed to have several surgeries and procedures to correct the damage it had already done.
3) Besides the obvious pain and suffering, what other daily challenges do you face as a person with chronic illness?
I think the biggest daily challenge I face as a chronically ill person is paying for, taking and refilling the medications that keep me functioning well every day. It’s also convincing people that my invisible illness is as devastating financially and physically as any other disease.
Lately, this has been easier since chronic inflammation has caused problems with my spine, knees and hip. Somehow, walking with a cane has helped people better understand the strain my condition can cause.
4) Tell me about your books. I’m especially interested in Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House. What prompted you to write this book? And, for those who don’t know, who or what does “Dr. House” represent?
I’ve written several books, but, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House is my first memoir. It chronicles my nearly 20-year battle to find a name for my chronic condition. I was prompted to write it when a lymphoma scare threatened my life.
I was just starting a new relationship, hoping to have a long future ahead of me, when I learned that my chronically swollen lymph nodes could be a sign of cancer. This set me on a quest to find the correct diagnosis for the mysterious illness I’d been battling.
Even though I am a journalist, I was lost. I had no idea where to begin, so I turned to my favorite TV show, House M.D., for inspiration. I began looking for a “real-life” Gregory House, or diagnostician, to give me some answers.
In my brutally honest memoir, Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House, I reveal how I found the doctor who saved me, and how you might be able to, also.
I’ve also just finished writing my follow-up book, Healed, about how I’ve learned to cope with my chronic illness and the new physical challenges it presents. However, it has not been released yet.
5) What would happen if you were to lose your health care coverage?
I am fortunate. I will not lose my health care if AHCA passes because I am a union worker. I can get coverage through my union right now. However, I am not certain what the premiums will be, if they will change the services that I am covered for, and what will happen if I am unable to work.
Certainly, I am concerned that my out-of-pocket expenses will soar. To date, I have spent more than 168 thousand dollars out of pocket over the last 14 to 15 years.
I could’ve paid off my house if I wasn’t struggling to survive.
“I could’ve paid off my house if I wasn’t struggling to survive.”
6) In your opinion, why is the GOP so set on making such radical changes to the health care bill? Do you think it’s all about corporate greed, or do you believe there are other factors in play here?
I believe Republicans want to make changes to the health care bill to gain political clout with their base. I think it is also of very little concern to them how [the average] American will be affected.
After all, congressional leaders have some of the best medical coverage in the country. Any changes they make to the bill won’t bother them or their relatives.
“After all, congressional leaders have some of the best medical coverage in the country. Any changes they make to the bill won’t bother them or their relatives.”
Of course, money is also a concern for Republicans and all political leaders. Lobbyists wield a lot of power in Washington with our representatives. And, corporate heads are sprinkled through the administration. So, keeping his colleagues happy is Trump’s main agenda.
7) What makes life worth living for you? What people/things do you hold most dear, and what do you want to offer the world?
My life is worth living because nearly losing it made me recognize what a gift it is to love, laugh, or simply breathe. Like most people, my fiancé, “stepson,” parents, friends and colleagues add so much to my life.
But, currently, knowing that I can use my experiences and struggles to inspire, assist and influence others drives me to get strong every day.
“But, currently, knowing that I can use my experiences and struggles to inspire, assist and influence others drives me to get stronger every day.”
Thank you, Nika, for “Beamon” your light out into the world and continuing to shine it brightly every day. I appreciate you taking the time to allow me to interview you for my blog!
To learn more about Nika and her unapologetic, no-holds-barred style, visit: https://nikabeamon.com/.