I really struggled when we started talking about passing the Affordable Care Act. I actually read the whole thing, all 700 pages. Now you know why I am quite crazy, I have never recovered from inflicting that document on myself. Our congresscritters were far wiser, most of them refused to even read it.
I wrote a lot of letters, I went to town hall meetings, I tried to reason with people. Perhaps it was just common sense or a prophetic eye, but I knew the issues, the cause and effect was going to be just devastating for so many people. And here in the midst of my little blue dot, all of my concerns just fell on deaf ears, in fact I was kind of dismissed as a hater of the poor.
I remember standing up at one meeting and saying, “but I am the poor!” It’s a somewhat amusing memory. I was so confused because I really was “the poor,” trying to advocate on behalf of “the poor,” but to no avail.
I guess because I am “the poor” and because I spent so much time working as a caregiver, I had an awful vision about what was going to happen. Not only would hubby and I lose our insurance, we’d get priced right out and then fined for not having insurance. We fall in that donut hole, a few hundred dollars too much for Medicaid, a few hundred too short for an insurance premium and deductible. The ACA navigator flat out told us to quit our jobs. Working just wasn’t “cost-effective” for us.
But a far bigger concern than winding up uninsured and financially broken at a time of our lives when we really need some access healthcare, was my fear of an epidemic. Having spent years watching, I know exactly what the system often does when you are poor and they have nothing else to offer you. They give you pain pills. It’s human nature, I suppose. If I can’t get you into physical therapy and surgery, if I can’t heal you, all I can really do is prescribe some meds. Here, have some Oxycontin. Let’s just try to manage your pain. Of course, we also have a powerful pharmaceutical industry pressuring doctors to do just that, prescribe the meds. Never mind concerns about addiction or whether or not people actually need morphine for a stiff neck or a headache.
And that’s exactly what happened, precisely what played out. People started going to the doctor looking for help and wound up with prescriptions that led to addiction. So, so many have now died due to our negligence, to our foolishness. I finally stopped caregiving, I just couldn’t bear witness to it anymore. People my age, fairly healthy, were soon on meds, addicted, suffering even more addiction related health problems, and now needing a caregiver. I began to feel like a huge enabler of a broken system, one that was literally killing people. People my age, people I went to school with, people who went to the doctor for a back ache and came out a heroin addict. And then it eventually killed them. And then it killed them, over and over again, one right after another.
Yes, addiction is complicated, but when you live in a state legalizing marijuana, celebrating the joys of the ACA, and prescribing and astounding amount of opioids, you have a perfect confluence, a recipe for complete disaster. Your government is your authority, your culture is you leadership, the experts, the professionals are all telling you they know what’s best for you, and so you trust them.
Addiction is complicated, but addiction does not just happen in a vacuum. A lot of things have to line up, have to pave the way, have to enable the whole process.
It weighs heavy on me sometimes, as in it was all just so preventable, so unnecessary. Our opioid epidemic is a man-made disaster. Like lambs being lead to the slaughter, people went to the doctor, took their kids to the doctor, and got their opioids. Open up the borders and set policies in place that make it easy for illegal drugs to come in, that gives people some form of economic stimulus, and you wind up with the greatest epidemic this country has ever seen. More people have now died from drug overdoses in just one year than were lost in the entirety of the Vietnam War. So, so many deaths, collateral damage from this broken system.
I am angry sometimes and sad, still grieving all that suffering, much that I have seen up close and personal, but what my heart really craves is justice, some way of stopping this, some way of getting it right, some way of holding people accountable. That’s happening in small ways, there is some hope on the horizon, but it’s been a really long slog.
Really ironic, 3 of the movers and shakers here, the local wildlife, those I fought the hardest with over the ACA, are all dead now. Dead in drug over doses. Kind of weird when you start wanting to see justice for your ideological enemies, for those who fell victim to their own belief system their own ideology.
I’m still healing from the frustration, from the sense of helplessness, from the anger, from the grief. A bit funny, somebody asked me what things I still needed to forgive. Well, it’s such a broad brush, things like the total depravity of mankind, greed, foolishness, deaf ears, betrayals, the epic fails of our system, our lack of wisdom, not being heard, other people’s denial, poor politics, a constipated and powerless church, the nature of people, stubbornness, being rendered invisible. It’s a long list and it’s an ongoing process.
It’s really hard when you get mad at the whole world, at the nature of people, at the senselessness and futility of it all. On the bright side, my heart is really now resting with the prophets of old, the minor prophets, with the sheer frustration of trying to say to people, “Look, this is what’s going to happen. Let’s not do it.” I now know why they were so often out in the wilderness tearing their hair out and eating bugs.
I get mad at God too sometimes I suppose, although it’s hard to be mad with such kindness, such understanding, such unmerited favor and comfort. But yes, I do get mad sometimes, mad that some us are going to see things coming down the pike that we cannot control, cannot change, cannot stop, cannot prevent in any way. It strikes me as kind of cruel to show people a peek into the future, a future that is not necessarily going to be good. That’s a hard path to navigate, a tough thing to try to sort out. I’m stuck just kind of hanging onto the goodness of God, trying to trust that there is a method to all this madness, a purpose that I can not always see.
I’m pondering Lazarus today, Lazarus who was risen from the dead. His death was God’s will, it happened under God’s sovereignty, but Jesus. Jesus was the resurrection, Jesus IS the resurrection, and when He brought out Lazarus, He also revealed the Father’s will to us. I suppose that is a big part of why the authorities of the day were so angry, so convinced this Man must be stopped. He was God’s will. Love how Jesus says in John 11:4, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
The tale of Lazarus and Jesus reminds me that there is a method to all this madness, that often in my grief and sadness I cannot see it and I do not understand, but Jesus does. Jesus knows. Things fall into place for the glory of God, there are stories being written that I cannot always see. I can only see through the glass darkly, like looking at polished bronze, a warbly and smudged reflection at best.
I’m reminded too of how Jesus comforts Martha and Mary, about how Martha doesn’t really understand, how she says, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life….”
I suppose in an odd way if it weren’t for the ACA and the opioid epidemic and all these years of frustration and grief, I would never have drawn so desperately close to Him, so hungry for answers, half-starved really. Perhaps that’s one of the hidden benefits of our suffering, it does draw us closer to God, because there are some questions that only He can answer.
Ask them. He gives great answers. Seek and you will find.