I just watched your interview on Fox News which aired on October 11, 2013. You also mentioned you don’t read negative mail, so my guess is you may never see this…however my hope is that many will be educated regardless.
First of all my love goes out to your daughter-in-law with Lupus. As you rightly stated, some days I’m sure she can get out of bed and go about her day and others it’s debilitating.
Debilitating was the word you used, not me.
Then you went on to say how (and I’m paraphrasing) we’ve created a society where drug addicts and those with bad backs and those like your daughter-in-law are told ‘not to worry, if you can’t take of yourself we’ll take care of you.’
Apparently in the world of personal responsibility and your new book that you are shilling, you think the government shouldn’t be helping those with debilitating auto-immune disorders. Ones they didn’t ask for, nor did they contract by some irresponsible action of their own.
As someone with a family member with Lupus I would hope that you would be better educated on exactly how it works, but by the way you spoke on television I was unclear. Especially considering you seemed to think Lupus was not a disorder that could possibly render one disabled to the point of needing government assistance. This may be the case for your daughter-in-law. It may be the case for many others with Lupus in varying degrees. However, Lupus is a killer and as you said, debilitating.
It destroys organs.
It causes organ failure.
It causes strokes.
It attacks your own body and causes so much pain you can not get out of bed, shampoo your own hair, or even tie your own shoes.
But here is the real kicker: Lupus is different for everyone. It does not attack one body the same way, because hey…we are all different.
From the Lupus Foundation of America:
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.
In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
In my own body, Lupus is currently attacking my blood vessels causing them to be inflamed. As you can imagine this causes much pain from head to toe. We also just found out I have the beginning stages of glaucoma thanks to Lupus. Previously Lupus has caused me to have a stroke, two TIAs, lose my gallbladder, lose part of my colon, lose my uterus, my ovaries, and my cervix.
I undergo bi-weekly treatment via IV infusions three days a week, for 4-6 hours per day. Those are on the weeks I’m just getting my ‘regular’ treatment. Every four months or so I get two extra treatments of a super powerful drug via another IV infusion.
I am on powerful steroids and many other medications that have serious side effects. Some days I’m not sure which is worse, the disorder or the treatment.
As you can imagine, this doesn’t exactly make it easy to work. Which is why I am thankful that in our country, when I was capable of working, I paid into social security as well as private insurance disability benefits. I thought that was also called personal responsibility. According to you, though, I’m avoiding personal responsibility.
I worked as hard as I could for as long as I could, making sure we had savings, and even reaching out to family for help. Then medical debt took over and now we’re doing what many Americans do: paying our bills, living paycheck to paycheck, and thanking all the deities for Obamacare (which as you correctly noted is law) as it will help my family get through this rough time. As someone who makes millions per year and was named to Forbe’s list of highest paid entertainers, I don’t expect you to understand the needs to the average American family. I do, however, expect you to retain compassion regardless of the size of your bank account.
Now I’m not exactly sure why you felt the need to single out Lupus patients as being irresponsible for their disability simply because they follow the law and take out the money they put into these government programs. Lupus patients are already stigmatized enough as it is with so little money having been put into research and educating the public on the pain and suffering we experience.
Our pain is real. Our suffering is real. You are welcome to see my brain MRI showing the stroke, the doctor’s notes and files regarding the inflammation so pervasive in my pelvis the doctor couldn’t believe anything was left and most of all, I’d love for you to talk to my family. Please, sit down with my children, my husband and hear from them the toll it’s taken.
Just as you don’t want to ‘pay for my kids’ I certainly do not want to be sick and out of work. It’s the LAST place anyone with Lupus wishes to be. Shame on you for insinuating we are mere moochers or freeloaders not taking responsibility for ourselves.
I’d give anything to be back at work and healthy. I’d give anything to have my organs inside my body and my brain functioning as it was before the stroke. Lupus is no joke and those with Lupus deserve your praise, not your scorn. We wake up every morning and fight to live. We fight against the odds. I know Lupus patients who are heroes.
As someone who is sworn to uphold the law perhaps you have seen only the law breakers from your bench. Perhaps you have spent so many years handing down sentences to those who try and take advantage of the law that you have forgotten the majority of people are not looking to lie, cheat, and steal their way through life.
Some are just simply hoping to live.
I’m glad there is a safety net for citizens of this great country and I believe we are a great country because we can provide that safety net. You may not like your tax dollars going to me or my family, but I don’t like my tax dollars going to wars I don’t agree with. It is a give and take. I, for one, am much happier giving to those in need.
And let me be clear: those with Lupus may truly be in need. The next time I can’t get out of bed, I will think of you and how you said I was undeserving. The next time yet another doctor gives me yet another diagnosis (last week it was glaucoma) caused by Lupus I will think of you, and how you said I was undeserving. The next time I’m in the hospital by doctor’s orders even though I want nothing more than to go home and be with my family, I will think of you and how you said I was undeserving.
Please educate yourself further on Lupus and perhaps offer your daughter-in-law even more help on those bad days when she can’t manage. Because we hope you never know the pain she and I are feeling on those days and how we’d love nothing more than to be at work instead.
In the meantime, I will proudly collect the disability I worked hard to contribute to and I will proudly stand up for Lupus patients – all 1.5 million of us in the US alone – as they collect their checks as well. Because as you said ‘not to worry, if you can’t take of yourself we’ll take care of you.’
I don’t want Lupus patients to worry and I WILL help take care of them. THAT is the mark of an incredible nation that puts its people first.
Erin Kotecki Vest
There is a Move On Petition asking Judge Judy to apologize for her remarks regarding Lupus.