A plea (and, if you need relevance, an example of the failure of US healthcare)

Constant readers will know that I keep the personal buzz on this blog to a low rumble, so as to stay out of the way of the news about MRSA, which affects hundreds of thousands of people beyond n=me. Today, though, I’m going to break my own rule, tell you a story, and launch a personal plea. Readers outside the US will be astounded such things can happen. Readers in the US will recognize how sadly common to our fractured system stories like this are. And they will be right. And yet, this one has particularly touched me.

So: Lori Hall Steele, of Traverse City, Mich., is a prolific freelance writer and blogger and the divorced mother of a 7-year-old son. She is also newly diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. She is bedridden and using breathing support and is unable to work. As a freelancer, she no doubt has not-excellent health insurance. Her bills are extraordinary. And, to add insult to grave injury, she is about to lose her house to foreclosure.

Before she became ill — her first symptoms appeared a year ago — Lori wrote an essay for the Washington Post, about watching Bambi with her son and trying to explain, yes, the death of Bambi’s mother. As often happens, they held the essay for months, and it was published in June. It is extraordinarily resonant. Please consider reading it. Tissues will help.

Let us be candid with each other: ALS is a one-way trip. People who support Lori are not expecting miracles; they are asking only for compassion, and for the ability to keep an ill young mother and her child together in the home they love for whatever time she has left.

If you are touched by Lori’s story, please consider visiting Save Lori’s House, which details fundraising efforts to help her, including a PayPal account.

Writers around the US are rallying to offer what support we can, via a blogathon of which this post is one entry. Lori’s friends are attempting to log the blogathon here.

(And because we always worry about such things on the intertubes: This has been vetted by many eyes. The chair of the Writers’ Emergency Assistance Fund, an arm of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, has been in contact with the family since the spring and has spoken by phone with family and friends. If you Google Lori’s hometown newspaper, the Traverse City (MI) Record-Eagle, and put her name in the search box, you will see notices of fund-raisers for her dating back early this year. So there is no evidence this is a scam.)

I appreciate your indulgence and support, all of you. We’ll get back to MRSA tomorrow.

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