It’s July 4th and I’m keeping with my theme of songs for blog titles. Fresh from seeing U2 perform The Joshua Tree 2017 tour last week in Boston, I’ve picked one of their songs from that album for my blog post this time. Although the song lyrics are about addiction, I found the title an apt expression of what running is for me and how it relates to my view of our country these days.
When I’m in LA, I run at the Rosebowl 5K exercise loop a lot. I have been running there for over 10 years now. It is a microcosm of the people in our country. I see people of all ages, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and various abilities and disabilities. There is a black woman I’ve seen since I started running there – she’s there every single time I am (and probably every day) and I’ve watched her progress in weight loss over those 10 years. I don’t know her name, but we see each other and occasionally wave or nod. There’s Rosebowl Ramon, who always has a warm greeting and a bear hug for everyone he meets. (Sadly, I haven’t seen Ramon in many months. I fear the worst, of course, and I miss seeing him.) There’s Toula from Greece who also has a “hi” for everyone and will stop and chat with you if you both have the time. There’s the Korean girl who was so wobbly on her roller blades when I first saw her 10 years ago and now looks like she’s ready to join the Olympic team! There’s Roberta (and her husband) whom I met almost 15 years ago at jury duty in Burbank and who got me into yoga! I see young athletes training. I see school groups of girls in long skirts and hijabs walking the loop for their PE classes. I see groups of men and women of all ages, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes walking and chatting. I see moms pushing strollers. I see dads pushing strollers. I see nannies pushing strollers. I see mixed race couples and same-sex couples and heterosexual couples. I see elite athletes and I see people just starting to get out for the first time. I see people who have physical issues that make walking difficult, but they are still out there! I see people with walkers and canes! I see groups training for marathons. I see groups of guides training with people with disabilities so they can participate in 5Ks all the way up to marathons too! I see people walking their dogs. I see people pushing their dogs in strollers! I even see other T1s with insulin pumps and/or CGMs proudly visible in our running clothes.
We are all different, but we all have this in common – we like to move and get outside and exercise and it doesn’t matter what we look like, where we come from, what we believe, or what our abilities are. We’re all just people when you get down to it.
I’m a type 1 diabetic and I run. I have a pre-existing condition. I take care of myself, but that is expensive. I was trying really hard to not make this particular post (too) political, but just waking up and looking at Twitter makes that easier said than done. As a person with a chronic health condition and also a mother of child with a chronic health condition, I’m terrified of what the fate of healthcare is for us and millions of other people. And before you start yelling “fake news” at me or you saccharine sweetly tell me you want me to be “okay,” I have spent the last couple days reading HR 1628 now sitting in the Senate. It’s not a fun read for many reasons, I assure you.
I get overwhelmed and depressed with the daily attention and cost of diabetes management, but this makes me angry too. Because I have a disease that I did nothing to get, I may not be allowed to have healthcare, or it will be so expensive that I can’t afford it. I put way more work into staying healthy than most people without chronic conditions and I guarantee I’m healthier than most of them, even with having type 1 diabetes.
Do you have any idea how much it meant to me, and others like me, when the ACA was passed and we would not be denied coverage? Do not tell me that pre-existing conditions will stay, either. They are talking about high-risk pools. That’s not coverage. It didn’t work before and it will not work now. Did you know that Medicaid cuts will make it impossible for millions of low-income people to have any kind of coverage at all? Did you know those cuts will affect public schools and their abilities to provide resources for special needs children? My daughter’s school district in California already only provides a nurse ONE full day per week. These cuts could get rid of nurses altogether. States can’t handle the extra burden of these costs. I also wonder who I know who makes so much money that they will actually benefit from these tax breaks – smoke ’em if you got ’em, I guess – but don’t try to tell me it’s good for any of us other than the rich and corporations. The ACA directly leveled taxes on people who make over $200,000 per year and placed levies on insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Those will be gone if this bill goes through. That’s a lot of money and it is not ending up in the average American’s pocket. Don’t even get me started on lifetime caps! Was the ACA perfect? Of course not, but this isn’t the way to fix it. It makes me sad and it makes me angry and no, I don’t want to debate it with you. Come walk or run a mile (or the 10.5 I ran on my long run last week) in my shoes.
So, as our nation celebrates its birthday, I want the best for all of us. We should be better than this, but even when it truly feels like running to stand still, I will keep running and so should we all, literally and figuratively.