By Donna Smith, American SiCKO
CHICAGO – Pressure and worry robbed me of my sleep for so long that when I slept through the night on Sunday, I thought it a fluke. Then I slept through the night on Monday and again on Tuesday. Though on a hide-a-bed folded out into an apartment living room still jammed with unpacked boxes, my soul and my body have begun to heal.
How many other Americans, I wonder, have spent years as I did struggling to rest with worries about health care and insurance and money and just staying afloat? For the past 20 years, my sleep patterns have drifted from bad to worse as our lives were upended by health concerns and made absolutely terrifying by the financial ruin that followed.
But now, just a year after I first met Michael Moore during the filming of “SiCKO,” I am in a new job with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee – and I have decent insurance benefits and an apartment that is warm and safe.
After the devastation of the past few years, as these blessings unfold for me, I can feel the rising urgency to see that every American family who labors and grieves for dreams crushed and life savings wiped out by the broken health care system find relief through the realization of national, single payer health care for all of us.
There is no way that the kind of mental, emotional and physical stress we have endured has not contributed to some of our health woes. And the stress is being felt and shared by millions of people in our society. Yet, I have not seen anyone truly talk about what that is doing to the burgeoning health costs in this nation or what it is doing to family dynamics or what it does to our communities. Angry, worried, frightened people may be easier to control, but they are costly to maintain in such a state.
Now, my life has not become an overnight utopia. My personal issues and stresses will always have some play on my time and energy. But the gift of sleep and the gift of even this additional measure of peace-of-mind is such a welcome and unexpected relief.
I was prepared to give everything I had and everything I am to the fight for real health care reform. I was giving so much that my body and soul were weary and yet unable to find rest or restoration. But now with greater strength and tenacity, and with the support of this marvelous organization for which I now work, I can truly give the best measure of myself. Talk about empowerment…
And isn’t that what we’d like to see for every American? The opportunity to live and work freely and without fear from for-profit, systemic health care disaster is a gift we can give one another. Single payer is not the evil enemy of the freedom. It is one of the best ways we can reinforce and strengthen personal freedom for every American.