Quick Gut Check

Hi Cutie 😘

I want to begin this post with a quote by me, “there is no greater instantaneous satisfaction in life than eating a cold pickle straight from the jar.” 

May the rest of my sole relatively serious post serve as a medium for crohns awareness, not letting barriers inhibit you from chasing dreams and a not so subtle plea to our congressional leaders to stop fucking us and our nations health care system. 

My preface is that I am super fortunate to be able to write this. I have been healthy for a long time and this is a hinderance, but not an imovable wall. Some circumstances are too severe to overcome and there are not always paths to do exactly what you want. Life isn’t always fair and sometimes you just get screwed, without a greater purpose. Regardless, life goes on. To all the fighters out there, fight on. 

Diagnosed as a young lad at the ripe age of 15, I was faced with a number of questions like, what the fuck is crohns? Why the fuck do I have it? And could I have gotten a more awkward disease? Fortunately at my no longer ripe age of 26 and 5/6ths, I no longer feel so strongly about answering any of those questions, nor am phased by the stigma of an irritable bowel disease (IBD). For some background on what Crohns is – it is in the family of irritable bowel diseases and can affect any to all of the digestive track causing all the symptoms you can guess would be associated with that part of the body. After going through all the shitty (pun intended) tests, to finally determine I had the disease, I began a presicriptive drug treatment that I remain on today. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to remain stable and relatively asymptotic. Yet I will always have Crohns, a pre-existing condition with a looming threat of my circumstances changing any day. Not to mention I am viewed as an expensive liability to insurance companies regardless of my past. In a system where insurance companies rely on healthy youth to pay for our sick elders, I break the algorithms. 

Being outside the age range in which I could be covered by my folks, and without employee benefits, traveling abroad for an extended period of time under our former health care system seemed nearly impossible to do without high costs and high risks. Because I take a prescription everyday, I don’t have a choice but to remain covered if I want to gain access to the drugs I need. The ones I don’t are available sans prescription on the bridge to Bella Vista in Santiago… I mean what? The problem lies with being labeled as a pre-existing condition and insurance companies being allowed to reject me based on this. 

Now you may be saying “well so what? That just means you have to work and don’t get to travel like a hippy bum!” So I happen to strongly believe that everyone should be entitled to the same opportunities in the pursuit of happiness regardless of health or socioeconomic background. Furthermore, while my struggle is to find a means to travel outside of the states, what about those who find themselves out of work for any other reason and cannot afford quality healthcare. Those who may not be offered quality healthcare and cannot afford otherwise. I am a white dude from a relatively affluent family, and this is hard for me. I pretty much lack any socioeconomic disadvantages in life and this is still difficult to navigate. Imagine being on the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum AND being diagnosed with Crohns. Crohnies, cancer survivors, diabetes, whatever – your access to quality health care should not be denied based on something out of your control. Premium costs and eligibility should not be affected by a pre existing condition. Health care is a human right and should never stand in the way of personal progress. Wealth can isolate one from having to worry about this, but it is our duty to ensure that greed does not stand in the way of creating an equitable society. 

Anyway, thanks to ma dude Obama, we made some progress a few years ago under the affordable care act. Because of the ACÁ I am able to apply for affordable health coverage on Covered CA and am free to pursue what I chose without the confines of a full-time job that offers health benefits. The ACA is imperfect but a step towards socioeconomic equality. I plea to our leaders to not take steps away from an equitable society in the name of tax breaks for the 1%. 

I don’t know if I explained this very well, but to summarize without ACA I have to remain gainfully employed to avoid being denied by insurance companies or risk being priced out. Without ACA if I was to lose my job and become sick, I could not afford to pay for my medical bills. Without ACA I could not do this trip, albeit a luxury I agree, but the best decision I have ever made. 

With the ACA, love u Barack, I can. I have coverage and can get my meds, consult my doc and not fear from getting sick while abroad or backhome and not be able to see my doctor. 

To do this I also enlisted the help of great friend/drug mule Nicolette to being a resupply on her visit. Love you chica! Everything else required was just navigating the Covered CA webpage, not without its headaches along the way, and coordinating with docs. I have been dropped twice from Covered CA for no apparent reasons and thus have had some late nights brainstorming how to navigate the spiderweb that is our health care system. Owe huge thanks to my dad for being my messenger when I cannot call back home. Additional thanks to Kyle Valenzuela for being a partner in crime in figuring out how to be covered while abroad. It’s not always easy, but I never had a choice. 

Now I just have to worry about shitty water and montezumas revenge. I have to be a bit smarter than my peers about partying, lack of sleeping and healthy foods, but otherwise can travel in normal circumstances. 

Once again, I’m a lucky dude on a ridiculous trip. While things are a bit more conplicated and risk can loom, I am just grateful to have the opportunity. Plus, maybe a little extra risk pushes you to be a bit more, how you say, YOLO.