There I was, indulging in a favorite pastime, ducking down rabbit holes looking for presents and learning about all manner of issues. Not surprisingly, I was stuck on chronic illnesses. I landed on a website Dr. Google shoved in my face. The site is devoted to the daily struggles of living with chronic conditions. The site’s title, But You Look so Good, was sarcastically scrawled in a messy hand across the top of the page. I just smiled. I understood how preposterous that phrase becomes when it is offered to me, not to mention thousands of others. For us, that sentiment is all too familiar, its meaning clear: really, you cannot look that good and be so sick. Want to bet?
People are uncomfortable with illness, though chronic illness is in our national photograph. We only want to see the family farmer, the train steaming across the heartland, the baseball slugger bringing thousands to their feet in that snapshot. That is us at our best, the idealized America. But look there, up in the corner. See the figure in the hospital bed. That person is a part of the American portrait, too. He is a patient and does not know what is wrong with him, and he is scared. Maybe she is a suffering soul.
The holiday season strikes me as an appropriate time to take stock of our lives and think hard about our futures. The NIH invests nearly $32.3* billion annually in medical research for the American people. That figure does not seem to grow. Trump keeps attempting to cut the NIH budget. He has not gotten away with that, at least so far. Military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. Am I missing something?
I realize I keep beating this drum. I apologize, though I don’t. It makes me crazy.