How Obamacare Helped Me Have a Happy Mother’s Day

by Dr. Denise O'Neil Green | May 6, 2014 10:00 AM

Happy-Mothers-Day_2014-1Saturday, April 10, 2010 was a normal day.  I spent time with my daughter.  We had lunch and tackled chores.  I spent the evening with my husband and watched some TV.  Earlier that day I tried to call my son, the college student, and invited him to lunch, but I wasn't able to reach him. I assumed I would give him a call the next day. So the day concluded with our lives and dreams intact.

Those dreams and normalcy for my family, however, were shattered in the blink of an eye.  At 3am Sunday morning, April 11, 2010, my husband and I received a call that our son was hurt and in the emergency room.  We rushed to the hospital and the nurse would not let us see him right away, which made us even more nervous.  When we saw him, our son was in very bad shape; little did we know how bad it was. We later learned that our son was the victim of a hit and run, drunk driver. He was dragged several yards and left on the road.  The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down among other things.

Up to that point I was a very private person.  I did my job but shared very little about my family with colleagues.  I guess keeping things private was a coping mechanism to protect my career and keep motherhood separate.  After the accident, I could no longer maintain that distinction.  What happened to my son made our lives very public.  Friends and people in the community, individuals who I didn’t even know, sent well wishes, cards, love offerings, food, and prayers. 

As a mom I realized that I wasn’t alone in this either.  All of a sudden I was a member of a special club of moms who had children with disabilities, both visible and invisible. Other moms would share their stories with me, stories of heartbreak, struggle, perseverance, and especially of faith, love and hope.

My son was in the hospital for 7 months.  He had so many surgeries that we lost count.  That morning of the accident, the surgeon who performed the very first surgery described my son’s condition as a nightmare.  But he made it through the first surgery as well as others.  Fortunately, The Affordable Care Act (colloquially termed “Obamacare) was in place, allowing my son to remain on my health insurance.  This was a Godsend! With a total of the three hospitals that cared for him, the bills piled up. 

I still had to fight with the insurance company, be his Case Manager, advocate for the proper care, and even go before the county judge on behalf of my son.  All this doesn’t even include the countless hours his dad stayed by his side to make sure he was being cared for properly.  As you can guess it was a stressful time for my family.  “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” was a book I read that helped to give me some perspective; as time passed the hurt and sting lessened, allowing me to hope and more importantly trust that things will get better.

The-Green-kidsLast month, April 11, 2014, was 4 years since the accident.  Now there is a new normal, with old and new dreams to achieve.  I’m so Blessed to have my spouse, daughter and son with me this year for Mother’s Day.  I see my son as my miracle child.  Given what happened to him, he should not even be here.  He is steadily getting his life back.  My family is Blessed to have a new, fresh start in Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

Several months after the accident, my dear neighbor told me that she missed the laughter in our home.  From next door, she could actually hear us laughing while we played board games or watched TV together.  In thinking about it, the laughter did disappear and was replaced with so many other emotions and stresses.  I never would have imagined that laughter could return to our home, but it has.  This Mother’s Day I wish for those who mother and care for others to have laughter on their special day.   It is certainly a Mother’s Day gift that I will cherish this year, and for many years to come!

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