My Healthcare Story
My daughter, Shalynne, was a very funny, loving and determined young woman. She had just driven from Kansas City to Las Vegas to complete schooling to become a RN. She worked two jobs as a CNA and was in the waiting period for health insurance.
In June of 2015, she fell and went to the ER in excruciating pain with a red, swollen leg. The staff immediately asked if she had INSURANCE. Shalynne replied “No.” She begged for an MRI and medications to treat her 8-out-of-10 pain, to no avail. They told her “Go get insurance and see a specialist, we are not a doctor’s office.”
If we had universal healthcare, insurance would not have had an impact on Shalynne’s care. Her doctors would have asked the important questions and treated her pain. They’d have known that, in addition to her red and swollen leg, she was African American/Caucasian, taking birth control, with sickle cell trait, and she’d just completed a 22-hour drive on an injured knee which would have required testing for a blood clot. Because they didn’t do the basic screening they didn’t uncover the blood clot that had been forming in her leg since her drive from Kansas City. Having a blood clot while flying is life threatening.
On June 25th Shalynne took a flight back to Kansas City. The blood clot broke off in her leg and caused a massive pulmonary embolism. The next morning her father called and said Shalynne had woken up with severe chest pain. She coded in the ambulance. It took 59 minutes to stabilize her. Walking into her hospital room, it finally hit me how bad it was. I saw my daughter intubated and hemorrhaging. She never regained consciousness. When the time came to ready her for donation I held her hand as they removed the breathing tubes then climbed on her bed and held her as she took her last breaths.
Shalynne didn’t have to die. I could not remain silent knowing that other mothers and loved ones would feel the immense pain I’ve lived through if our healthcare system does not change. I knew some of my friends and family would be opposed to my activism. I also feared the pain that I would be reliving each time I told her story. It is difficult but I know I am her legacy and voice and telling her story is honoring her. Having access to healthcare is a basic human right and denying it to those in need is inhumane. I realized that now is the time to be politically involved. We need to tell our stories and put a face to the fight for healthcare for all!