Does our health care system break people or heal them?

Does our health care system break people or heal them? It depends.

I wrap my arms around the thick chest of my chocolate lab and press my cheek against her silky soft ear. I have been chilled all morning in my yoga pants and fleece pullover and so especially notice the warmth of her fur. The comfort of her presence is not quite enough to chase out of my mind the thoughts I would rather not pay attention to.

“60% of people go through treatment and beat Lyme, 20% with additional treatment beat Lyme and the goal with the other 20% is to get them to the best place they can be and manage it. Your thyroid is autoimmune, right? (yes) That makes it harder to treat.”

A year ago those statistics sounded pretty promising. Now, not quite so much. We are still working toward a cure but I do hear the message that is slowly being shared to prepare me for the possibility of landing in the wrong 20%. I hear the message, but it is not time to give life to it. I need to keep my mind focused on healing completely.

The other part of the dilemma I don’t want to think about is this: “Could I increase my chances of getting to cure if I didn’t have to work full-time? What if I could rest more and work on helping my body be stronger to win this fight? Would that make a difference?”

As an American, I am part of our crazy health care system that starts with one cruel fact. My health insurance is tied to my job, my FULL TIME job. In my case, my whole family’s health insurance is tied to my job. If I left my job, I would no longer have the health insurance needed to try and help me win this battle.

This leads to so many other questions. “Would 3-6 months of part-time work help me get to a cure? Could I arrange this and still manage to pay for my health insurance as well as all the non-covered expenses? If I don’t reorganize my work life, will I close the window of opportunity for getting to cure? If I asked for this from my employer, would it put my whole job in jeopardy? It certainly would throw a monkey wrench in the progress of the community change work I have worked so hard on for the past four years.

This leads to the most basic question that touches my deep rage toward the pathology of our health care system, “What kind of insane system is it that instead of supporting people to heal, requires ill people to work full-time in order to access care, sapping their healing energy and increasing the probability of treatment failure? Is there anywhere else in the industrialized world that demands this of sick people? Why is it that we let this stand?” (Don’t even get me started on how we allow a constant bombardment of advertisements for toxic foods to our kids when we are supposedly concerned with the obesity epidemic!)

I know this system will not be changing anytime soon. So back in the OK corral, with Lyme the answers are almost always ambiguous. I would predict the answer to my questions would be that part-time work and more rest would most definitely increase my chances of healing completely but there would be no guarantees, how long I would need to work part-time would be unknown and is working full-time decreasing the probability of getting to a cure, possibly. Would asking for part-time accommodations put my job in jeopardy and would my employer let me keep my health insurance and pay more during that time-period is not something my doctor can answer.

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