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Last Days with Dad

My father, James Kirkland, was a brilliant man. He was an incredible father and a terrible joke teller. He'd laugh so hard he could never get to the punch line. He gave his life to others as he spent 50+ years in the ministry. He was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease but due to early detection, a proactive physician combined with a lifetime of clean, spiritual living, he was still showing very few signs of the disease after seven years. Even after his diagnosis and retirement, he continued to work as a chaplain, continued to teach seminary and he and my mother continued their worked with the homeless in the Highway 80 Rescue Mission.

One bad decision changed everything. Dad woke one morning, took care of his morning chores, planned a lunch date with Mom, and drove to the post office. Seven+ years diagnosed and still driving. When he returned, he told Mom he felt dizzy and he slumped to the couch. She called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital. After several hours in the ER the doctor decided to admit him and while waiting to be admitted, he needed to use a restroom. The busy ER nurse told him to walk down the hall and use the one near the waiting room. Never one to question "authority" Dad followed her directions. With only Mom to assist him, he collapsed onto the concrete tile floor and suffered a four area brain bleed. We lost our father and Mom lost her husband that day. His body was still healthy, but the brilliant brain damaged and Alzheimers unleashed.

Although my parents lived frugally, as a minister and school teacher with 4 daughters would, they saved for their future. However, either a catastrophic injury such as Dad suffered or even the long journey through the hell of Alzheimers disease would have completely bankrupted our family without Medicare and Medicaid. Until you need it you never know how much of a hole Medicaid fills in the financial pit of long term medical care. Elder care is very difficult to fund. Finding even adequate care for Alzheimers patients is extremely difficult to find and even more difficult to pay for. We were fortunate to find a facility for Dad when he could no longer be cared for at home. Without the assistance of Medicaid, I do not know what we would have done. We lost Dad in January, 2010 2 1/2 years after his fall. We would have never been able to care for him without these important programs. There is no doubt that without the assistance he received from Medicaid, the stress of his illness and the financial devastation would likely have taken our Mother as well.

It sickens me that certain lawmakers would even consider cutting programs that provide life sustaining support to those who need it the most. Few families in the United States could financially withstand a catastrophic illness or accident, even those who have insurance. Without the Medicaid net, the increased cost to families and the loss of loved ones would be devastating.

Please write your representatives and tell them this is NOT where to make the budget cuts. This is NOT what Moms believe is right for this country. Unite and fight for this safety net for American families.

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