Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Best to NOT be Poor. Remember that.

I have a cousin, K, who is poor. She has made a lot of mistakes in her life, stupid decisions, and is stuck with the consequences. So she finds herself the single mother of four young children, trying to get off of welfare, two dead-beat dads, etc. (One may pay some child support, I'm not sure.) How to get out of this situation, you may ask? Well, let's assume that education is the way to go. So, she goes to the local community college to take classes to get into nursing school. What about the 4 kids? Who takes care of them while she's in class? My grandmother, who is 83, and my great aunt, who is 81. They are NOT easy kids. Anyway, the point of this story is that through much sacrifice on the part of family, she finishes her pre-reqs for nursing school. But the local nursing school is so impacted, that they take all of the qualified applicants and put them in a lottery. K doesn't win the lottery, so no nursing school, despite her years of work to get there. So now what. Well, there is a technical college in town that will teach her to be a medical assistant. So K takes a student loan out, and goes through that program. Again, with a lot of support from my Grandma and Great Aunt. Finally she finishes, and finally she gets a job at a local hospital, being an assistant in the OB/GYN department. A job she LOVES. Where they really like her a LOT. Where she can get off of welfare and start to support herself for the first time in her life. Yay! Relief heard round the world.

But wait...She has a medical problem. She has been bleeding for well over a year now, and desperately needs a hysterectomy. They give her medication and so on for the bleeding, but nothing works completely. She really needs the surgery. Can she get it? No. MediCal says, "Is she dying? No? Sorry, no surgery." So she's stuck, slowly bleeding, which has to drain all of your energy and strength and make you more susceptible to illness, and wait, she's got 4 kids and is trying to finish school and get a job and so on. So now, she has her new job. A job where they have her on a 6-month probation, where if she misses 1 day of work, she's fired. Where if she is sick, or someone dies, or whatever, TOO BAD. Suck it up. Or you're fired. So she has to continue to bleed. Ironic, since she works in the OB/GYN department, that she can't take the time out to get the surgery she needs to get healthy. Well, last week she fainted at work. Fell and hit her head on a table and was unconscious for 45 minutes before they could revive her. Can she get the surgery? No, because she might miss a day of work, and then she would be fired. God, it makes me mad. So they did a procedure to remove polyps the other day, and she's on desk duty so she won't fall and hit her head again, but she has to stay in this condition until the end of her 6-month probation. I think she has about 4 or 5 months still to go.

It makes me mad, because if she had had decent insurance instead of state insurance, she could have had this surgery before it got to this point. Stupid MediCal. It truly sucks to be poor. And I think of all of the people out there, suffering because they have no money for needed treatments, and they are just stuck. Stuck in the mud. And blamed by so many for being poor, like it's a moral sin, or something that they chose. So, remember, don't be born to poor parents, and don't get sick without decent insurance, and don't fool yourself into thinking that a safety net is anything but the rock bottom net, and don't think that we can't lose even that net if the powers that be decide that we don't deserve it. Grrrr.

7 comments:

Autumn's Mom said...

Damn. I hope she makes it the 6 months to get the surgery. Yikes.

J said...

I know. And this is my evil loser cousin, who sucks Grandma dry. But I'm on her side this time. Makes me feel weird. Haven't been on her side in awhile.

Pony Storm's Ride said...

If there is one thing in this country that its citizens should rise up and overthrow it is the damn healthcare system. It is unspeakably unfair.
K's story is particularly heart-wrenching. Talk about a whole succession of Catch-22s!

Heidi said...

I have to tell you J, that I was born to poor parents. It was a long time ago so times-and people-were different but, I also made it because I made a concious effort NOT to have children, and to be a hard worker and get myself to a place where it didn't matter that I was born poor. It wasn't easy, I'm not at all saying it is. I'm just saying that there are times where we make choices in our life that set the wheels of catch-22's in motion. I've made a few of the choices for sure (still do). And don't get me wrong, I DO want to have children. I'm just waiting until I find the right guy and the right benefit plan to make it all possible.

J said...

Heidi, I agree...that's part of what I said early on about her making a lot of bad choices in life. It's called taking a bad situation, and making it worse and worse, until the pit is so deep, you can hardly get out. But still, my point isn't so much to do with the kids as that she needs surgery, and under the state program, could not have it, and now she could lose her job because of that, which would put her right back on the dole.

My mom always said there is a difference between poor and broke. Broke is temporary, and poor is a mindset. My cousin has always been poor, maybe always will be. I was broke as a kid, and married and have benefits and all of that. So part is luck, part is a mindset, part is choices that we make. It's complicated. And being poor means you don't get the chance to make the mistakes that the middle class, maybe, and the rich, definately, get to make without the same dire consequences.

Heidi said...

Just wanted to make sure you knew that I am STILL rooting for a medical miracle for your cousin! What kills me most about the story is that SHE WORKS WITH MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS. Isn't it their job to save people for goodnes sakes!

J said...

Thanks Heidi...I'm keeping my fingers crossed. And yeah, she works in a hospital...it's just CRAZY.