rest in Latrobe, PA, 0.0 miles

For the second day since I injured my ankle I decided it was too painful to walk. Yet, while I have the luxury to stay and rest, many people do not. One woman I met a few days ago told me of her battle with Crohn’s disease, for which she cannot afford the health care costs. She works more than 80 hours a week at minimum wage to make ends meet.

Today, while I was hobbling down the hall to my hotel room, I chatted with the woman who cleaned the rooms. She said she wakes up every morning with intense pain in her ankles and feet, and sympathized with my injury. But, while my injury is likely only temporary, hers is chronic–she told me she could barely crawl out of bed each morning.  And, for her, resting is not an option. She is a single mother with three young children to care for.

I cannot comprehend the chronic pain these women endure on a daily basis. And I am in awe of their inner strength as they work in low-paying jobs that keep them on their feet all day and exacerbate their health problems. We do not allow animals to suffer such indignities, to live in constant pain. Surely as Congress finally addresses the massive mess that is health care in this country something can be done to improve the health and well-being of the nation’s poorest.

We waste money on procedures that are not medically necessary; take antibiotics for viral infections simply because we believe a pill will make us better; and fail to take even the smallest steps to improve our diet and exercise. We need to take charge of our health, be responsible for preventative measures. And, just as we must be responsible for our own health, we also have the right to expect our government will ensure access to affordable health care.

This country is vast and varied and there are no simple solutions. But we must demand politicians find a way to ensure everyone in this country, no matter how poor, has access to quality health care without interference by lobbyists or those who would seek to put profit above our health.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper