More than a year ago my mother was committed to the state hospital, three hundred miles away. She hasn’t gotten any better. The last news I heard from the staff was they were going to try stopping all her meds and start over from scratch. The options are somewhat limited because the medication that worked (for a long time) just about destroyed her kidneys.

Before she was shipped off to the state hospital she spent time at a local, short term facility. In between stints there she spent time at an assisted living facility. When you add it all up, she’s been away since the spring of 2007. It seems longer.

In the mean time we’ve become familiar with the shortcomings of our health care system. We’ve seen first hand the lack of parity between the care given to our physical and mental needs. I’ve seen the lack of sympathy some have for those suffering mental illness. But worst of all, I haven’t seen my mother for a very long time. I’ve seen the container she used to inhabit… but she’s not really there.

It’s her birthday today. I may not talk about it much, but every day my mind inevitably wanders to two things: the leukemia coming back someday, and my mother. I don’t really worry about the leukemia, it’s just kind of there in the back ground. Similarly, I don’t shed many tears over my mother, it’s mostly just a persistent ache. Not today though.

I don’t want your pity or your sympathy. Instead, I want you to think about my mother if/when healthcare is debated in the coming year.

Maybe you’re thinking I’m taking advantage of my mother’s illness, to which my reply is: you bet your ass I am. I’ll take advantage of any story… any statistic… any evidence of injustice to make sure it doesn’t have to happen to someone else.

If you really want to know how I feel today, go back and read this post.


  1. Hi John, I read this earlier, went and read the earlier post and felt totally devastated for you. Please know I wish you and your family only the best and my prayers are with you all. I didn’t realize about the leukemia. My husband’s sister is battling it right now and it has been a tough road for her.

    I will definitely think of your mother. She epitomizes the inherent problems of our health care system.

    Take care of yourself and your lovely family.


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