Dear Mo Brooks: Do I Lead A Bad Life?

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I have a pre-existing condition, so I guess I lead a bad life.

You know what’s really bad? Going in for surgery and coming out with nerve and organ damage is bad. Losing my health in two hours. That was a bad day.

I usually keep this part quiet, but since you seem to have strong opinions about good and bad, I’ll tell you. I had surgery to fix damage from childbirth with my two kids. I guess if I hadn’t had children, I wouldn’t have needed the surgery that gave me the pre-existing condition. But then I would have either been a woman who had an abortion or a woman who (gasp!) chose not to have kids, and I’m going to guess both of those things would have landed a check in your “bad” column as well.

Let me tell you a little about my life before my pre-existing condition, back when it was a good one.

I ran a lot, including marathons. I loved vegetables, except kale, because, who really loves kale? I took my tiny kids on walks and hikes. We swam a lot.

I was a Physical Therapist. My whole career revolved around helping people stay healthy, so they could live good, fulfilling lives too. You’re an older guy; maybe you’ve seen someone like me to help you rehab an injury? Most people have by your age, which means they have pre-existing conditions too. If you haven’t, maybe you can ask Chaffetz about it; he’s going to need some PT for that foot.

Here’s the thing: All the salads and good living in the world didn’t change my outcome or my story. It took a brief moment under anesthetic for my life to go from a good one to a bad one, by your definition.

Newsflash, you bigoted old fool: I live a good life with a pre-existing condition and a disability. Getting to the point I could call it a good life was hard as hell, and I’ll miss my old life for the rest of my new one. That doesn’t make my life less valuable now. The things I had to learn along the way, like patience and compassion and humility might just make my life better. I’m guessing you don’t understand that.

So let’s talk a little about my life now. Let’s talk about why I think it’s a good one and what you really mean by a bad life.

First, I love my family. My husband I are raising two whip-smart, kind, empathetic kids. We’ve instilled the idea of “do unto others as you would have done to you.” Those are checks in your “good life” column, right?

They think you’re an ass. Also, we’re agnostic, so we skipped the Bible verses and told them to be good people who care about others. That’s probably two checks in your “bad” column, right?

I’m pro-choice but I’m also pro-child. While I’d like abortion to be legal, safe and rare, I care more that the children who are born have food and shelter and healthcare. Even if, like my daughter, they are born with a pre-existing condition and spend some nights in Children’s Hospital before their first birthday.

I still exercise as much as I can and I still like vegetables. All the healthy living in the world won’t make me less dependent on the medical supplies that keep me alive. Your falsely moralistic statement that good things happen to good people, including health, is so far-fetched that it would be comical if you didn’t have a vote in shaping healthcare policy. That vote makes your statement terrifying and cruel.

Here’s the thing you need to know about those of us with pre-existing conditions, especially people like me whose health changed their lives.

We’ve learned two things. The first is compassion. You can’t have life deal you such a resounding blow without understanding that anyone can be the next victim of cancer or MS or a surgical complication, and that living a good life has nothing to do with it. The second thing we’ve learned it how to fight. It takes ridiculous amounts of time and energy and persistence to fight for the services and medical supplies we need and often we have to fight despite poor odds, because we want to stay alive.

We have compassion and commitment to a fight. If anyone is ready to fight for healthcare for the next three years and nine months, it’s us.

And we’re tired of your bullying moral superiority. Health and good luck alone don’t make a good life. Too bad you lack compassion and the courage to fight for anyone other than yourself. That seems like a bad life.

2 thoughts on “Dear Mo Brooks: Do I Lead A Bad Life?

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