Dennis, a former colleague of mine with whom I used to carpool, had been out of work since the summer. Sure, he found temp jobs from time to time, but nothing with stability or benefits and he often wondered how he would pay the bills.
He was prone to seizures. When we carpooled, he assured me that they only happened in the middle of the night and infrequently, thanks to the medication he had been on for years.
After I left the job, the company underwent significant downsizing and shed much of its workforce, including Dennis. He assumed that the one-month severance would be sufficient to carry him to the next job, but months later he was still without permanent work. And medical benefits.
The last time we spoke, he told me that he had suffered a grand mal seizure while at work at a temp job, which landed him in the hospital for three days and likely discouraged the employer from offering him a permanent gig. He couldn't afford the hospital bill, even after getting the charitable 80 percent discount, which only added to his stress.
And his seizures became more frequent with stress.
Without medical benefits, he could not afford the anti-seizure medication, so he was forced to choose between paying the mortgage and avoiding seizures.
That choice had deadly consequences. Today I received the phone call from his friend that he was found dead in his condo last week. It appears that he suffered a grand mal seizure, fell straight forward and either aspirated or hit his head in exactly the wrong spot. His mother usually stayed with him a few days during the week but, as unfortunate luck would have it, she was away on vacation.