I assume people think surviving illness changes you because there’s something inherently character-building about pain. But what happened wasn’t a struggle, in the sense that through perseverance I overcame something difficult. For a fairly brief but unexpected period of my life, I lost my capacity to work, to advocate for myself, to navigate life and all its frictions. For much of my illness—intubated, drugged, feverish—I simply wasn’t there. In my absence, there were more than 25 individual doctors and specialists, an army of nurses, the friends who loved me enough to take care of my affairs while I was under, some unknowable number of insurance agents sitting behind desks in another state, silently placing checkmarks next to my claims.
Most people would say they care about sick and disabled people, but most people won’t vote for politicians that support the health and social services necessary to keep us alive, let alone allow us to thrive. Stop being a jerk and start campaigning for medicare for all and better support for people with disabilities.