What happened in Boston on Monday shocked me. It also saddened me since I understand a small part of what some of the families will be going through in the next days, weeks, months and years. I understand how life can change in a split second in ways that you do not fully understand and won’t for years to come.
I do not know the pain and terror of dealing with a moment like that but I do know the long term pain of having a family member deal with a life changing medical emergency. I also know that their pain and terror will not go away for a long time and well, it might not ever, quite frankly. Because of that, they will need help. A lot of help. For a very, very, very long time.
As a whole, our society is amazing at acute care. Watching people react by running towards those hurt was amazing. It was a heroic, amazing, brave, wonderful, selfless act to help others. It was an acute reaction. The same happened at the area hospitals and in the medical tent near the finish line. The acute care given was unbelievable. The hospital staff did what was needed to save those that they could and to do what they could for those injured. Most had never seen injuries like that before but their training gave them the tools they needed to act. And act they did and they did it incredibly well.
The communities immediately gathered behind those whose lives were lost and those who were injured. Fundraisers were set up and people are already giving money to those who need it knowing that they will have huge medical bills from this acute situation. And yes, they will have huge medical bills… Those who lost limbs will need to worry about funding for things that they never, ever considered before… Those without insurance will need to cover the cost of their stay, no matter how long… Those who were injured will need to worry about rehab to get back to work quickly… And those funds will help in ways that the communities cannot imagine. They will relieve pressures that no family needs to ever bear. Spurred by grief, anger, public reaches out to help bombing victims – Metro – The Boston Globe
Yes, the country deals with acute care and situations incredibly well.
However…. what the country does not do well is long term care. We just don’t. There was a great article in the Boston Globe about this subject. I read it and realized how much it rang true not just for this situation but for ours and for others we know. Surviving victims face another marathon ahead – Metro – The Boston Globe
Injuries like those sustained in the Boston bombings require care for YEARS. Years and years and years. Especially for the youngsters injured… For the innocent babes who need to learn how to walk with a new leg. For those in their teens, twenties and older who also need to learn how to walk with a new leg. A leg they weren’t born with… Our long term care system isn’t prepared for this nor will it be able to help most that desperately need it. Insurance doesn’t have the right coverage for long term care. We found this out the hard way. My husband and I have great jobs and work for great companies and we have great insurance; for acute care. It barely covers his long term needs and most we pay out of pocket for since we need the care. I’m worried that the majority of those affected by the blasts will have the same issues with their insurance coverage. Thankfully, the fundraising will help but only for a certain amount of time.
Our communities aren’t prepared for the long term either. They just aren’t and it’s human nature. It was a tough pill to swallow for us. People move on. They do. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. Once someone is far enough removed from a situation, they are able to move on with their life. Now, it doesn’t mean that they forget it nor does it mean that the stop helping. But it does mean that the person in the situation no longer has the acute help that they were originally receiving. They no longer have the entire community around them but instead, it may just be a small group. And the small group may get even smaller as the months and years pass. Again, it’s just human nature to keep moving on with your life. Giving that much of your time to others is difficult and it was understandable when people stopped visiting and making dinners and giving so much of their time and money. But it still hurt, because we still needed help and still do. So many families will deal with this as time passes. And they will hurt and still need help.
We cannot let this continue to happen to those around us. As a country, society, group, individuals, we need to realize that in addition to covering acute care, we need to worry about the long term too. We cannot just let life move on and assume that the families are taken care of since they usually are not. The families will keep going and will do what they have to do but it will come at a price; financial strain, emotional, mental and physical stress and pain. It will be hard. We need to support them. We need to support each other. We need to structure care, insurance, coverage, rehab, help for the long term so that 10 years from now, families are not without savings accounts and can purchase the medical equipment that they need. This way, they won’t need government help but can use their private insurance (if they have it) and not worry about going broke because of medical bills.
I know that this requires a big change. Not only do attitudes need to change but insurance coverage, payment methods and treatment guidelines need to change. However, as individuals who use the healthcare system, we can inform those around us of the fact that our current system is lacking this long term care and that we need to make a change. We can push for this change! We need to voice that it needs to be done so we can care for each other for as long as we need it. Please help me. Pass it on.
And when you see someone dealing with a chronic condition, ANY chronic condition, know that they need help. Even if it’s just an offer to babysit their kids for a night or make dinner or a small monetary donation, help. Please help.