Friday, March 23, 2012

Supreme Spirit

Today we recognize the Second Anniversary of the day congress passed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010.  As the law goes before the Supreme Court this week, it seemed fitting to revisit Theresa BrownGold as she is currently spending her days at the Supreme Court.  I will be joining her this week.  Please follow me on Facebook.

Theresa BrownGold with Courtney:  January 2012 US Supreme Court

As the unforgiving bite of the winter winds whip through the mall in Washington DC this year, they eventually make their way around the US Capitol.  Behind the Capitol, their relentless bitterness ultimately encircles the majestic pillars of the Supreme Court.  Positioned between these two forces of authority stands Theresa BrownGold and Courtney.  Theresa, a gray-haired 57 year old woman from Bucks county, carries herself with a sense of purpose.  Courtney however, is held in the nurturing embrace of Theresa in the form of a painting, representing a soul that our healthcare system left behind.  
Courtney was a Type I diabetic woman in her 20’s.  She attended college on a full scholarship in track and field.  Upon graduation, like many young people out of school, she was uninsured.  In order to save money, she cut back on her nighttime insulin medication.  In 2010, she slipped into a diabetic coma and died.
My healthcare journey around Pennsylvania this year led me to Theresa last fall where she did a guest blog for “Health on the Horizon”.  Theresa is a portrait artist that began a project called “Art As Social Inquiry” over 3 years ago. In this project, she documents the plight of the uninsured/underinsured though the use of portrait art.  Recently, in light of the upcoming Supreme Court decision about the constitutionality of the PPACA, Theresa has taken her project to a new level.  Each day the Supreme Court is in session this winter (6 days a month), you will find Theresa outside on the steps with one of the many subjects she has painted over the years.  Additionally she spends 4 days a month in front of the Capitol for a total of 50-55 hours a month in DC.  Each day she is in DC she has updated her followers on her Facebook page with the events of the day.
On this day in late January, the winter wind was particularly unforgiving.  As the winds whipped through the Romanesque pillars of power, Theresa fought to keep Courtney stable.  As the southern winds pushed, they gave way to the tug of the northern gusts--A dance that went on for hours.  Theresa held on tight and Courtney never budged.  
Later that day, Theresa posted her experience fighting the power of the wind on her Facebook page and concluded that it was with Courtney’s help that the painting stood strong in the forceful powers of wind and the channels created by the mighty buildings.  In response to Theresa’s post I commented with words of encouragement to keep up the fight for Courtney and all those like her.  I logged out and went about the day to day activities of my life.  
A few days later I revisited Theresa’s pursuit in order to find out the latest news.  I returned to the story of Courtney and Theresa’s battle with the wind and found someone had given my comment a “Like”, the 21st century version of fellowship and camaraderie.  It was from Courtney’s mother.
I was humbled. Just as Courtney’s sturdy hand reached out to Theresa that windy afternoon, through her mother, Courtney was reminding me that this issue lies at the very soul of the human condition.  Regardless of the powerful force of human or nature, the spirt of those who have slipped into the cracks of a broken system refuse to be silenced.  Theresa and Courtney are making sure that they aren’t.

Today's Anniversary Post is done in memory of Courtney Leigh Huber
Courtney Leigh Huber died on January 5, 2010 because she wasn't able to access health care to take her prescription diabetes medication.  In her honor, her family and friends have created "Courtney's Keepers", an organization dedicated to providing diabetes supplies to those in need.  

On September 23, 2010, 8 months and 18 days after Courtney passed away, the provision in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became effective that states that all young people under the age of 26 are eligible to stay on their parent's health insurance.

In the Fall of 2011, I was honored to be a part of Theresa’s collection (see My Story).  Theresa and I have called ourselves “kindred spirits”, each telling this story in our own way.  I am often reminded of a conversation that we had last fall when she said, “With each stroke we need to keep telling this story.  Mine is with the paintbrush, yours is with the keyboard”.  And so the story goes on........

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