Health Care on the Line
I am with people when they are most vulnerable: in the hospital, stripped of their clothes, with nothing on but a thin gown that has been worn by many bodies before. My role is a constant balance between “human” and “robot.”
T-minus three minutes. The room is ready; the positions are assumed; the monitors are set. We stare at the clock as the seconds slowly pass, standing in silence to conjure up the stillness before the storm.
He was in his younger middle years, generally well. Before he had a wife and kids, he had been a competitive cyclist, an Olympic hopeful. He stayed active, ate thoughtfully, took no medications. But in the mornings, first his hands and within months other joints would swell and ache terribly, refusing to move. His primary doc sent him to a rheumatologist because, based on his symptoms, it appeared that an inflammatory process was to blame. The rheumatologist ran tests and then more tests; all were negative, but she agreed--this was rheumatoid arthritis.
He was started on a medication that made him feel better. Not fully better, but generally able to get up and move in the mornings without significant pain, which he certainly preferred, and his life went on.
It was election night. November 8, 2016. As a southern, affluent, white male from a conservative household I leveled with her: “This election isn’t life or death."