I suppose it is validation that I need to get my back fixed when the best thing to happen to me in a while is that I found out today that a good friend was able to talk to our mutual back neurosurgeon’s office and get me an appointment 2 weeks sooner than expected. When you look forward to a painful procedure, it gives some face validity to the seriousness of it that you are willing to go through pain to repair the damage. The conservative and intermediate treatments did not work. Time to go nuclear on the slipped vertebra in my spine! The errant bone is sitting on some nerve roots, and I cannot afford any more nerve damage than I already have.
In the meantime, I need to scramble to get my MS neurologist in touch with the spinal neurosurgeon to talk about my case. Then there is the litany of specialists — pulmonologist, allergist/immunologist, primary care doctor, etc. — to contact. And, there are files and films to send a doctor for a second opinion. This should be a fun week of being on hold and waiting for call backs. All of this done while trying to work full time, being unable to sit comfortably for more than a few minutes at a time, and being unable to concentrate on much of anything because my back hurts.
With all of this, I am conscious of one overwhelming thought that should really not have to cross my mind in a civilized, industrial society: thank goodness I have good health insurance to pay for all of this! I do not know how those not as fortunate as I in that respect get through much more serious things with the burden of insufficient or non-existent coverage in addition to the stresses of working through an illness. I am not sure why our nation allows such a shameful situation to continue.
Rick Santorum wants to kill or cripple me. Perhaps it is because I have gleefully riffed on the euphemism that Dan Savage invented for the word “Santorum.” Perhaps he does not like me because am a godless, educated, East Coast woman who is unapologetic about being amoral. Perhaps he thinks me a wanton woman for my checkered romantic past before I married the love of my life eight years ago. However, the Republican Presidential candidate seems to be intent on doing physical harm to the likes of me.
Former Senator Santorum has stated that he wants to leave the legality of birth control to the states so that they may outlaw birth control. I have an autoimmune disease that has a degenerative neurological course. I am not going to get better. I am not going to heal up and regain lost motor control. I am on medications that would likely result in either spontaneous miscarriage, or worse, could potentially cause some awful effects on any child I might miraculously carry to term. Hence, without effective birth control, my body and emotional state would be subject to the serious damage a miscarriage would cause, or I would need to take care of a special needs child for whom I could only offer less than optimal care in both a physical and emotional sense because of my own disability. As an added bonus, pregnancy for a woman with MS is often followed by a relapse that can cause further disability! My health is precarious enough as it stands.
Let me state clearly: I do not begrudge any person with a disease for their decisions about childbearing in their own situation. I am simply talking about my own life and specific situation. I am a 47 year old woman. I was diagnosed with MS at 40. My husband and I have made a very serious and considered decision not to reproduce. We had decided this before my diagnosis with MS. When we learned I had MS, we were so relieved that we had not decided to have a baby because it simply would not be a good idea in terms of my treatment, my health status, and our ability to nurture and support a child. This was the right decision for us.
The birth control issue is the tip of the iceberg on the things that the former Senator espouses with which I disagree. Rick Santorum is driven by deep-seated religious convictions about birth control that, if put into concrete policies, would hurt women and children by outlawing safe, effective, accessible birth control and family planning options. As a Republican in a party that supposedly stands for less government interference in the personal lives of individual citizens, I find it absolutely appalling for him to be getting up in my business when it comes to my family life. The beauty of being an American is choice. Mr. Santroum may not like my choices, but he does not get to have a say about my decisions in this any more than I have a say about his decisions about his health care and reproduction. He needs to keep First Thessalonians 4:10 in mind, where St. Paul encourages the early Christians in Thessaloniki, Greece “to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs”.