Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fatal Unemployment

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.

Eerie timing.


At 10:20 PM, April 14, 2009 , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

04 14 09

II: I am sorry to hear about your friend. Given the history of his employment and lack of insurance, what might you suggest that could help people like him? I know we debated on the octo mom threads at my blog about the role of social safety nets and your friend was certainly deserving of such protection.

At 6:40 AM, April 15, 2009 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Interesting and certainly tying into discussions we've had, there is a personal responsibility element.

He and I had lengthy discussions about his poor eating habits, how some foods he was eating (MSG laden) are known contributors to seizures and other neurological problems and how some doctors got patients off seizure meds with dietary changes alone.

And yet he had no interest in changing his diet in any way.

People in his position will have to assume greater responsibility and control of what they consume because the risks are too high these days.

At 9:36 AM, April 15, 2009 , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

04 15 09

Yes II:
Personal responsibility is needed. But eating well costs MORE than eating shitty. When I go to Raley's and get Cal-Organic foods, I generally pay two to three times more for these healthy eats. I do so for the sake of my son and my husband and my dog.

I am particularly concerned with people like your friend (RIP) who have kids and their kids don't eat well due to the expense of eating well. This is sad.

At 10:05 AM, April 15, 2009 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Is it really expensive to eat non-processed, chemically-laden foods?

Even if one cannot afford organic, they can still eat unprocessed, relatively clean foods. I find that the more natural we eat, the less we spend. Farmers markets have great selections of fresh produce for practically nothing. A bunch of spinach or a head of lettuce is one dollar.

At 12:51 PM, April 16, 2009 , Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

Yes, II Farmers Markets are nice but in our area only are in season for a few months out of the year. For the most part, it is difficult to say whether produce is clean or natural or unprocessed without an organic label because, as you've pointed out in the past GMO organisms plague our food supply. I certainly don't wish to take these risks with my kid and as I said, it is expensive to feed a family when you only want to go with certified organics. But I think it is worth it because the GMOs terrify the hell outta me!

And although you might get spinach for a dollar, you could get frozen spinach for only $0.79 and we wouldn't know if it is GMO free or not,generally.

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