Below is another example of what I call Blog-Journalism. This one is about a middle-aged woman who has lost her job, lost her insurance, and fallen into the gap since she does not qualify for public health care. Let me know what you think about blog-journalism, and about what we should do about our health care crisis.
Will Wendy get her groove back?
"I was a pack rat in my former life, so I've been selling off stuff on ebay and at McKay's [a used bookstore in Chattanooga]."
Wendy Hilgendorf, a 42-year-old specialist in cyto-technology and histology, has fallen in the gap, the gap between affordable health care insurance and state-sponsored health care [TennCare].
"To keep my house, I had to take out all of my retirement. That lasted me about eight months. My parents help when they can. They're in Arizona. And there are programs in Chattanooga that have helped with my heating and water bills."
Wendy lost her job in June 2004, three months after finding out she would not be covered for health care. "Project Access has been a life saver. They double check with me and keep me going."
She talks out of both physical and emotional pain. "On a scale of one to ten, I'm at a level nine in pain, 24/7. My motto these days is 'I'll only worry about today.'"
Project Access is a local health care program led by physicians who make medical help available to low-income uninsured people living in Hamilton County. Almost 35,000 people in the county have no insurance and do not qualify for TennCare. These are usually the "working poor."
But irony abounds in Wendy's case. She worked in health care for fourteen years as a specialist (a job that including working in pathology at Memorial Hospital). Now she has found herself without healthcare.
Rapid deterioration of four spinal discs in 2003-04 meant serious back surgery--the first cost over $75,000. But she needs another critical surgery, according to her physician. And until she can convince Medicaid to assist, the chances are slim that she'll have another surgery, an operation critical to getting her back to work.
"I've had no life for the past two years. Before being laid off at Memorial Hospital, I was sleeping and working nonstop. I've tried to get a job, but the pain has been so bad that I needed too many meds to work. Now that I'm jobless, I'm on about one-twelfth of the pain meds I used to take."
The pain medication she's on now is covered by a Catholic charity. Wendy admits that "pain managment is unfortunately planned addiction; so I'm very concerned about that. It's always in my mind. But so is the pain."
"I really want to work again, but then there is no guarantee. I really need this back surgery. For now, I've got my home, and I've got Xena [her pet Labrador Retriever] to come up and cuddle with me on the worst days."