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Lupus, Healthcare, and Little Village

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Lupus, Healthcare, and Little Village

I would like to “think” my world different. A life free of disease, hurt, and pain. While watching the BET awards I noticed people are still stunned by the death of Michael Jackson, (especially Chris Brown and his fake tears). But I must admit no one close to me has yet to die. I want to imagine a place where science can fix every sickness and tears were no longer based on health—or the lack thereof. Unfortunately “thinking” alone does not make disease or death disappear. My thoughts can only be a reflection of what I have learned in academe and what I have experienced in my life, and I still struggle between these two parallels.

This struggle chronicles a particular disease that my family has been forced to deal with before I could even pronounce the phonetics of the word: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. My mother contracted the disease when I was three and it drastically changed my life forever. I use this blog as an opportunity to talk about disease, healthcare, and systems in our society that choose not to care about those who need the most help. I know far too well the literal implications that Lupus (and more generally disease) can have on a person’s life. I watched my mother frequent hospitals, I helped her when she couldn’t walk to the kitchen to get food, and now I see as she leaves three times of week for dialysis treatment due to Lupus related kidney failure. Unfortunately, health is not just something I talk about everytime there is a political debate about universal healthcare on CNN, I don’t have that liberty. Health is something I think about and am intimidated by daily.

And what scares me even more is thinking about Healthcare (no, not just when it comes to policy, but more important what it looks like in practice). This past week I went on site visit to the “Little Village” area in Chicago, a neighborhood that is predominantly Latino. While there, I met with several non-profit community building organizations and I got an understanding on why this particular area was so successful in building a cohesive community. One of the most interesting site visits was the South Lawndale Health Clinic. Ruth De’Jesus, the director of the clinic explained to me that the most common treatments at the clinic are diabetes and high blood pressure. I could only think of how important it is to have a clinic in every community and how disproportionate access to “good” healthcare is in our society today. It reminded me of over crowded health clinics that I went to with my mom in Cleveland.

For now, one thing is sure: lupus to this day has no cure, all we really got from policy in the last year was universal insurance (not universal healthcare), and I’m still worried about the quality of care many people are receiving in low income neighborhoods. Have you ever felt like there are so many problems with the world, you don’t know which issue to start with?