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This is what losing your kidney function looks like.

This is what a diabetic who didn't have health care for a year and a half looks like.

This is what our glorious 'uniquely American' system of health insurance looks like.

Like this:
Abdomen with catheter showing

This is what a dialysis patient looks like on dialysis. It's peritoneal dialysis, so there are no needles to see, no blood flowing through a machine. What you see here is in my bedroom. I am connected to a machine called a cycler which is behind me on the table. The table is about as long as a standard computer desk and is a kitchen table; it holds the dialysis suppplies I need to keep nearby, my flexi-caps, mini-caps, masks, cassettes, drain bags, and some patient extensions. There are more patient extensions on top of the bookshelf, hanging over a bit.
River on dialysis, standing

This is what not having health care for a year and a half when you're diabetic and have high blood pressure looks like.

This is what our American health care system looks like. It is as broken as my kidneys.

I don't want sympathy; I want single payer universal health care. I don't want pity; I want single payer universal health care. I don't want commiseration; I want...

I want this not to happen to anybody else's kidneys.
I want this not to happen to a single other woman, or man, or child.
I want people in this country to get the preventive care they need to keep this from happening. I want them to get the chronic care they need to keep this from happening.

And I want it to happen seamlessly for providers and patients alike, without bankrupting a single patient or causing another patient to lose his or her home.

I want people to be secure in their retirement. I want them not to fear what will happen when a major illness or condition is found.

I want cancer patients to get treatment without having to lie awake nights wondering how they'll pay for it.

I want one class of people who have health care in this country: everybody. I want no more of this stratified system where it's determined that Joe can have care but Susan can't because she can't pay.

I want unemployed people to start thinking about creative ways to earn money and jumpstart the economy, rather than focusing on what they're going to have to do to get health care.

And I want to know that not one single person in the U.S. will have to have a foot-long catheter sticking out of her abdomen because she didn't have money for health insurance, ever again.

No more. No more, all you representatives and senators and governors who read this site. No more. Not one more.

Not one more. Not even one more is acceptable, do you hear me? Not one more.

I can't even be fully naked with my partner, do you know that? The white belt you see is what I use to support my catheter, and I have seven of them. I wear one at all times unless I am in the shower, including to bed.

It is incredibly difficult to fully give myself to intimacy with him when I am connected to a machine by a tether sticking out of my abdomen.

It is impossible to feel sexy when I have two liters or so of dialysis fluid in my abdomen, 100% of the time unless I've just been through a drain cycle, and my abdomenal walls have relaxed to accomodate it, making me look like I'm pregnant. I've been "pregnant" since January 15, 2008. I despair of ever getting the muscle tone back, and I do not seem to be able to with that fluid held internally.

So no more. Not one more.

No kidney left behind.

Update, 9:47 pm Rec list? Thank you, all of you. Thank you. Show these pictures to anybody who needs to see them. If words won't make the case, maybe this will.

Originally posted to Kitsap River on Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 09:06 PM PDT.

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