Saturday, 15 August 2009

There, but for the Grace of God, go I.

For the record:

I consider myself deeply and profoundly blessed to have grown up in a country where I had access to free-at-point-of-delivery medical care, and to have moved to another where this is the case.

I have multiple chronic health problems, none of which are all that straightforward to diagnose. Two of them require medication every day; a third requires regular use of painkillers (at this stage, over the counter doses of ibuprofen suffice). I have also had considerable mental health difficulties.

Without the NHS I could not afford my medication. This would seriously affect my ability to function and would mean I'd get more ill far more quickly than I will if I take my tablets.

Without the NHS I would not have had the medical attention which has made it possible for me to walk again, to play my instruments again, to finish my degree... and even if I had managed that, I would be living with the knowledge that eventually I will need prescription painkillers, and I won't be able to afford those, either.

Without the NHS I would not have been able to access treatment for depression; the different antidepressant medications I used to take would have been beyond my means and I certainly would not have been able to pay for the nearly three years of psychotherapy which were a significant factor in my recovery.

Without the NHS I would not have the contraceptive choices I have. I can't begin to catalogue the ways my life would be different if I had married my first boyfriend around a decade ago; I now know that my joint problems mean bearing children might cripple me. The thought of being married to that man, though I love him dearly, is not one that fills me with joy. The thought of being depressed and in constant pain and trying to look after children I can't really care for myself? Horrific.

There are ways in which the NHS has failed me. There are ways in which it has failed many. But I have a life in which I am able to work and play and laugh and love to nearly the best of my ability given my circumstances, and without the medical treatment I have had access to I would be miserable.

I love my life, I work hard, I try to make the world a little bit better and bring some beauty or love or laughter to those around me if I can. Without the NHS I could not. That's my reality.

I deserve to be able to do that. And so does every other human on this planet.

More bloggers on the NHS, and particularly its portrayal in US media:
Nick Baines
The Exegesis Fairy
The World of Doorman-Priest


Songbird said...

Thanks for sharing your story. One of my great fears now is losing my denominational insurance, because with RA I have a pre-existing condition and would not be able to get other insurance. The options are not pretty.

Song in my Heart said...

*nod* yes, if I had to try to get insurance I'd be pretty much out of luck--despite the fact that all of my pre-existing conditions are reasonably well-managed.

I hope you can keep your denominational insurance until health care where you live is more accessible.

MikeF said...

Well said, Song... your experience and mine are very similar. I could not possibly have afforded the healthcare I have received through the NHS, nor the insurance to have covered it, IF I'd been about to get insurance. I'd be either dead or useless by now; and if the latter, then ultimately a far greater burden than I was by getting help in good time...

Song in my Heart said...

Thanks, Mike.

I don't think people are ever truly useless. I do know society would like to tell many people they are useless, especially in a culture that confuses financial value with other sorts of value. I sometimes don't see a use for people, but that is still not the same thing as their actually being useless.

That said, I do think people deserve to find their best use, explore fully the potential for their lives. And I don't think that is possible when they don't have access to healthcare and so suffer medical problems that could be treated or at least managed. I don't think that is possible when they are overwhelmed with debt for having had the bad luck to be in an accident or suffer ill health. I don't think we should condemn people to struggle with problems that can be solved, with burdens that can be lifted.

MikeF said...

I quite agree... When I said, "useless" though, all I meant was that I might have been left with permanent problems that would have made it impossible for me to do the sorts of things your care enabled you to do, and left me needing long-term support. Useless in relative terms; in God's economy, we are all of infinte value!