Last April my friend Larry (in the US) complained to his doctor about a pain in his back that wouldn’t go away.  The doctor ordered x-rays and gave him pain meds. When the x-rays came back inconclusive the doctor wanted to order an MRI  but because Larry is self-employed he had to pass. His small home-operated company could not afford healthcare insurance. The $2000 test was out of reach as they were still paying off a medical bill from the previous year when his wife needed a $10,000 breast biopsy.

By June the doctor had upped his pain meds and had him walking with a cane.

By September he was in a walker.

Two weeks ago his wife called to say he was in the hospital, unable to get in or out of bed under his own steam. They’d performed an MRI and found Larry had cancer. They were calling it lung cancer even though there was only one small spot actually in the lung – there were metastasized tumors on the upper vertebrae causing the progressive inability to move. The doctors gave him a year to live if he underwent aggressive radiology and chemotherapy treatments.

Larry, aged 57 and who had otherwise enjoyed good health, said emphatically he would fight it. They booked him into radiology.

Late last week they were ready to send him home so he could enjoy Christmas with his wife, children and grandchildren. But he developed an infection. Last night, alarmed and frightened at his worsening condition, his wife and step-daughter stayed the night with him. Sometime in the wee hours, holding his hand, knowing he was in a great deal of pain his step-daughter asked “Dad, do you still feel close to God?”

Larry, a most devout Christian and wonderful father, said “Yes – in fact I can see him standing right over there.”  Then he closed his eyes and slipped away.

Nobody won today.

Last year Larry and I disagreed on politics. Originally Democrats, he and his wife were gutted by Hillary’s defeat. They didn’t know anything about the candidate Barack Obama except that there was all this talk about him secretly being a Muslim. They did like McCain. He seemed to be an honorable man. And after a while they grew to trust Sarah because (after all) McCain trusted her.

Well John – Sarah – one of your trusting supporters died last night. A man who didn’t take welfare, who paid his own way, took care of not only his own two children but the two children of his wife from a previous marriage. He was the dad who drove them around on rainy days and saw to it they were fed and clothed and loved.  He gave them Christianity for their hearts and was an excellent role model.

And because for seven months he could not afford a simple imaging test, cancer grew inside of him until it was too late to stop it.

Nobody won today.  You, John Mccain and you, Sarah Palin, and each and every one of your misguided supporters who joined in the teabaggery and obstruction of the public option healthcare reform bill should all be ashamed of yourselves.

The American Government is not a sport. Healthcare reform is not a contest. There are real people out here, with real illnesses who need access to qualified doctors and testing facilities denied to them by the greed-driven insurance companies  that you, John McCain and you, Sarah Palin and the Republican Party now openly and shamelessly support.

Stop spewing rhetoric designed to fire up the voters of 2012 and start earning your salaries as government employees! Stop figuring out ways to get the White House back under Republican control and spend some time figuring out a way to get medical help to the American people.

It makes no sense to me that ordinary citizens in the richest, most powerful country in the world (American citizens) are dying because they can’t afford basic healthcare.

Nobody won today. My friend is gone. The hope and promise of real healthcare for the US is slipping out of our reach – and I’m angry at every politician on both sides of the aisle who could have made a genuine difference for behaving like snot-nosed, narcissistic little children instead.

Nobody won today.

Nobody.

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