Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mama Had a Baby

The clock ticked...The year was 1982, and I was 21 years old. Newly married, my husband and I didn't plan on the pregnancy, but we all know how that goes. A bit of nausea and a doctor's office visit later, I found out I was pregnant just a month after the wedding. 

Being young and just starting out, we made very little money in our jobs. And there were absolutely no benefits, so...I was uninsured.

What I didn't know was that I had undiagnosed thrombophilia. I should explain. Thrombophilia is a condition whereby a person experiences abnormal clotting of the blood. Complications can include stroke, heart attack, deep venous thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism. For a pregnant woman, thrombophilia can result in miscarriage, preeclampsia, and eclampsia.

A couple of weeks later, I landed in the hospital with extreme dehydration and a condition called pernicious nausea. I had lost 23 pounds in about as many hours, and the veins in my body were so collapsed that they had to try three different places before they found a spot willing to accept an IV. Nobody could say why the sickness was so severe: All they could do was treat my emaciated body with massive amounts of fluids and vitamins.

After a week I was sent home, and believe it or not, the rest of the pregnancy was somewhat uneventful. So, on a chilly February morning, after 23-and-a-half-hour of labor, I delivered a healthy 8 pound 4 ounce boy, and my life had changed forever.

So many things have happened since that morning in 1983. My son's husband and I are no longer married. My mother, 77, has cancer, my father, 81, has Alzheimer’s. My son, 26, is happy and healthy. Me? Well, I have thrombophilia.

Scientists today are constantly discovering new things about the human condition, helping to unlock the mystery of good medicine. New medications and treatments are making normal lives possible for people who have conditions like thrombophilia.

I lift my eyes to Heaven each day with a grateful heart, knowing that I am alive despite the odds; that I have been given the gift of motherhood; that I have been loved, and loved in return. Yes, that clock keeps on ticking, and with it comes the hope that I can look forward to a long and happy life.

For more information about thrombophilia, visit

Monday, August 24, 2009

From the White House

I received this note from David Axelrod at the White House. Now...I don't normally forward things on through email, but this came from, well...The...White...House. So I post it here. Make of it what you will. Feel free to pass it on. And if you have questions or comments, send them to The White House.

The White House, Washington

Dear Friend,

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.”

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.

David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President

P.S. We launched week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we've just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health Reform Office tackling a viral email head on. Check it out:

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
  1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
  2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
  3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
  4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
  5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
  6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
  7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
  8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

8 common myths about health insurance reform
  1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
  2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
  3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
  4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
  5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
  6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
  7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
  8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.
Learn more and get details:

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now
  1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Click here to learn more
  2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Click here to learn more
  3. Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Click here to learn more
  4. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Click here to learn more
  5. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Click here to learn more
  6. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Click here to learn more
  7. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Click here to learn more
  8. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Click here to learn more

This email was sent to [private]
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Please do not reply to this email. Contact the White House

The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Letter to a Friend

You know, I never dreamed I would actually see you here. Well,'re late, man!

Happy to see you.

So much to tell.

So much to ask.

Hrmmm...where to start.

Well, lemme see...When I saw you last, around 1996, I was working at Broadlawns. I left there to take a job at the help desk at Norwest Financial, which then became Wells Fargo Financial. The department grew from 7 staff to 35 staff while I was there. I ended up being their training coordinator and wrote their manual. Four and a half years ago I found a wonderful position in the company doing nothing but technical writing in Arizona. A year and a half ago I was laid off (you know trainers and writers are the first to go, lucky me). I've seen so many of my friends at Wells lose their jobs over the last two years. But for me, it's probably been a good thing.

Around the same time I moved to Arizona, I met a fella in Second Life. He lived in Indiana. He moved to Arizona two and a half years ago, and works at Intel as a level 9 programmer. Very interesting stuff: Right now he's working on a project for a prototype board for the entertainment system for a new BMW automobile.

My son, Doug, lives in Iowa City with his girlfriend, Age. They, too, have been impacted by the recession but they're getting by. Doug is an English and Library Science major. Age is a nurses aid at U of I Hospitals...they're members of what I would call a trendy counterculture, if there could possibly be such a thing.

My dad, at 81, has early Alzheimer's, but is otherwise in good health. He worked up until about a year ago. He and my mom still live in a condo at the corner of 79th and Douglas in Urbandale. The house...well it was sold when I moved to Arizona.

My mom is 77, and has been battling cancer for 14 years. That is not such a happy story. She is in the hospital right now, as a matter of fact. She has pneumonia and tomorrow will receive the first in a last-ditch round of chemo therapy. I spoke with the doctor today: He said that she's not dying but that the same may not be true in two months. The cancer is in her liver now, and her lungs and skin. She has a couple of lesions on the spinal column, too.

I'm trying to decide when I should go to Des Moines. Since I'm not working, I could go any time, except...

I'm sick.

The reason I took this job in Arizona was because it was supposed to be less stressful. The doctor had told me that I should find something with less stress. I was having some odd health issues, and after all kinds of tests, nothing serious enough could be identified as causing my symptoms. Since people at work were falling over with stress-related illnesses, my doctor hypothesized that I could be having a problem with stress. Examples of things we were seeing where I worked included irritable bowel syndrome; depression; alcoholism; nervous breakdown; attempted suicide; and suicide. We were a cheerful bunch.

Four months after I moved, I was admitted to the hospital with a mysterious illness. After ruling out leukemia and lymphoma through various tests, including the painful extraction of bone marrow, it was determined that I have an autoimmune illness called Evans Syndrome. The symptoms? Well, basically, I was bleeding to death without bleeding. Instead, my body was destroying my blood cells.

I was given transfusions and other IV treatments, and a week later was released from the hospital on massive doses of prednisone.

A week later, the guy I met on the Internet came to visit me for the first time. Oddly, he has never known me to be well, and loves me still. God finally helped me find a good one. In fact, I would go so far as to say that God created he and I so that we would be complimentary of each a well-made glove fits the hand for which it was made.

This time I have spent in Arizona, so far, has been filled with darkaness and joy. Arizona is where I found out that I would never lead a normal, healthy life...and Arizona is where I fell in love with William.

Since 2004, the doctors have also determined that I have fibromyalgia, and the beginnings of Lupus SLE.

Nonetheless, I am happy.

How are you?

- C

To learn about Evans Syndrome, visit the Evans Syndrome Community Network.
To learn about Lupus SLE, visit the Lupus Site.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

it's time to stand UP...

Taken from Facebook entry of Thursday, February 12, 2009

A note to all Americans:

We are living in a time of crisis unparalleled for our generation. Our country is falling apart financially. We are involved in two wars that seemingly have no end.

It is of great import that we unite with the ideal that we are going to do what is best for our country, what is best for our children, what is best for the future. If we do not, we will face dire consequences. Regardless of political affiliation, now is the time to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegience, remembering that we are ONE nation, under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty (freedom) and justice for ALL.

Let us unite behind our President, not as a man, but as the President of the United States of America. Let us realize TOGETHER our future, let us PUT ASIDE our differences. May we lay down our weapons, and pick up our rakes and hoes, roll up our sleeves, and GET TO WORK.

This means change...The old adage "change is hard," could never be truer. We are definitely faced with difficult days, difficult change is ahead of us. Nobody said it was going to be easy. The truth is, it's going to be hard work..if we choose to do it.

The real beauty in all of this is that we do indeed have a choice. As Free Americans, we can choose to do nothing. We can choose to stand Divided. We can choose to Stand In the Way. We can choose to Stand Up and Unite Despite our Differences, laying aside those things that tear us apart and embracing those things which bring us together.

If we do nothing, if we continue to be divided...our country will most definitely continue to suffer. What will this lead to? Stop for a moment and imagine a USA with 15% unemployment...or even more. The unemployed can't afford to pay for their COBRA insurance, so many of them are going without the medication they need to stay healthy. Some are dying. Others have children they can't afford to feed nutritional meals...oh, they can feed them, but not the things that will help them grow strong and healthy. So these kids are malnourished and suffering from illnesses like rickets and anemia.

In this USA, we have food riots, we have people living without running water and without electricity and without phone because they can't afford to pay the bills associated with such luxuries. Still others have moved their families into cars, and the have become the vagabonds of 21st century America...the hobos of today. Homeless shelters are overflowing, and people in warmer climates resort to living in tents, living off the land, squatting on land they don't own. The longer this continues, the more desperate the poor become. Make no mistake...just because they are desperately poor doesn't mean they are desperately weak. Yes...there will be blood.

Is this the future you want to face JUST AROUND THE CORNER? We are SO CLOSE to collapsing, to reverting back to what we fought to overcome. Remember the Pledge...Freedom and Justice for ALL. We are the UNITED States of America. Let us UNITE.

Let our leader lead.

- Palemoon Twilight