A Congressional Testimony Actually Worth Giving

Dear Congress,

One of your committees recently heard the testimony of one Ms. Sandra Fluke, in which she used various sob stories, generalities, half-truths, and outright lies to demand free stuff. Of course, she presented her case in the guise of “women’s health” and “increasing access.”

Given that you were willing to hear her out, despite the fact that her testimony was more full of holes than the first draft of a B-movie screenplay, I see no reason why you shouldn’t hear me out as well. Like Ms. Fluke, I am also a woman; unlike her, I am not a professional activist, and I recently had to visit my local Emergency Room due in large part to an actual lack of access to a certain medication.

Let me backtrack for a minute. Back when President Obama was touring around the country in hopes of making the case that ObamaCare isn’t a giant festering pile of putrid garbage, he elucidated the following point as only a brilliant orator like him can:

Well said.

I would also like to draw your attention to the ban on inhalers that use CFCs as a propellent. I am aware that this ban did not start with the Obama administration, but he was clearly more than happy to finish it: the final casualty of this ban was Primatene Mist, which was pulled from the shelves as of January 1, 2012. Primatene Mist was, until its untimely demise, the only bronchodilator on the market available without a prescription.

I have asthma. Now, before anyone can jump on a high horse named You Brought This On Yourself, I hasten to point out that my asthma is hereditary; my dad has the same crappy respiratory system that I do. (To be fair, he also passed down ridiculously low blood pressure; I’d say this squares us.) Granted, the extra twenty-five pounds of fat that I’m hauling around aren’t helping, but that didn’t cause the asthma to begin with. If I was software, it would be a “feature.”

My particular brand of asthma is exercise-induced. For the uninitiated, this means that, generally speaking, I have the luxury of planning my asthma attacks in advance, and then defeating them before they even show up. It’s sort of like the Terminator, only successful, and not bent on the destruction of humanity.

I did say generally speaking — that part flies out the window when I get a respiratory infection, which happens once every year or two. I’ll spare you the details, but the end result for me is lungs full of phlegm, which delivers the double-whammy of Diminished Lung Capacity and some Nasty Coughing Fits, which then combine their Wonder Twin powers in the form of an Asthma Attack. This typically happens anywhere from two to five times a day both while I’m sick and during recovery, and my inhaler usage is greatly increased during these times.

I spent most of December of 2011 being sick as the proverbial dog. The following January was better, as I seemed to be on the mend, but with February came a return of my infection, with the proverbial vengeance. My poor little inhaler was working overtime during all this, and soon was running on fumes. When I went to my pharmacy to pick up one of the two refills I thought I had left, I learned that my prescription had up and expired while my family had been moving all over the country. And it would be at least a week until I could get in to see a doctor.

I was diagnosed with asthma at age fourteen, and my father has (accurately) described me as “the most intelligent airhead” he’s ever met; thus, I have found myself in the position of being in between prescriptions, or simply having lost my inhaler, before. And each time I’ve found myself in that position, I’ve also been able to trot down to the nearest drug store and buy a Primatene Mist as a stopgap measure.

Each time, that is, except this one. This time, I got to wait for the inevitable coughing fit, that would lead the the inevitable asthma attack, which necessitated a midnight trip to the ER.

An asthma attack is, as you can imagine, a rather freaky experience. For anyone who would like to know first hand how it feels, you simply need to do the following: Put a coffee straw in your mouth and plug your nose. Now breathe through the straw while standing in a sauna. Not fun.

(And if you did have fun doing that, what the hell is wrong with you?)

The ER staff were kind and professional, but the irony was not lost on me that, there I was, in one of the exact scenarios used by the President himself to justify Obamacare — not because of lack of insurance on my part, but because of deliberate action taken by the federal government, with the President’s approval, to limit my access to medication.

And allow me to be clear on this point: When I say “limit my access,” I’m not complaining that I couldn’t get what I wanted for free. It’s true that I did not ask to have asthma, but it is part of the hand I was dealt, and therefore my responsibility to provide for my treatment. No, my complaint is that my (formerly) most easily accessible option to do so has been arbitrarily taken off the table by a bunch of over-educated boobs whose priorities have been severely impaired by a group case of cranial rectitus.

I understand that the environment is important, but to outright ban a life-saving OTC drug over the infinitesimal amount of CFCs that are emitted upon use is simply insane. The only way this action could possibly make sense is if the people responsible for this ban share a recurring nightmare in which every asthmatic in the world takes his or her inhaler down to the South Pole and starts indiscriminately spraying it skyward — and even then, what I have just described is a villainous plot too stupid even for a bad James Bond movie.

Besides, extreme cold is killer on the lungs.

Members of Congress, you have made it abundantly clear to us wee common folk that you are deeply interested in/concerned about both the access to and affordability of health care for every U.S. citizen. In that case, I’m sure that my (factual) account of needing an $800 ER visit for want of a $20 inhaler will warrant your immediate and undivided attention for as long as it takes to rectify the problem.

But… I won’t hold my breath.

Sincerely, Angela

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One Response to A Congressional Testimony Actually Worth Giving

  1. Angela, Today I spoke with an attorney for Amphastar/Armstrong. He said there is a hearing in DC next Wednesday June 18th, 2012 regarding lifting the ban and allowing the millions of “Mist’s” on their shelves be sold before they expire and until the new version is finally approved. The FDA keeps requiring new tests, even after they have passed everyone to date. If you have anything that can be submitted and documented i.e., emergency room admissions post the ban, please let me know. I will post info on the Facebook group to Stop the Ban (http://www.facebook.com/groups/144785465588501/). Thanx and be safe…Vinny Distefano

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