I've written before about the Alice Neff Grant from the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. WLSFA is a nonprofit organization that offers several free grants for weight loss surgery and plastic surgery for removal of excess fat and skin after bariatric surgery, to persons who need help due to financial reasons. So, I got to wondering why the weight loss surgery grant was named for Alice Neff.
What I learned in my research was both shocking and saddening.
Remembering Alice Neff
The American health care system is a brilliant structure of scientific and medical advances that are inaccessible to an unfortunate segment of the population. There is a current fury over how to best insure as many Americans as possible. The United States Supreme Court will wade into the mix this Summer with a decision about the constitutionality of proposals regarding health care.
Imagine the frustration of knowing that resolution is at fingers length but you will never be able to hold it. Perhaps you do not have to imagine; perhaps you have experienced it in your life already. Perhaps you have been denied the weight loss surgery that was granted your neighbor because her conditions were more favorable. Perhaps your humanity was ignored because there was no profit in it. Perhaps the health insurance you believed protected you was inadequate, and you were washed away by the obscenity of it all.
The Human Being Who Was Alice Neff
We are all the sum of any number of parts: parent, spouse, co-worker, child, friend, citizen. Each of these roles is filled for better or worse. The package of who we are and how well we fill that package determines the type of person we are.
Alice Neff was a parent, a spouse, a co-worker, a child, a friend, and a citizen. He was the mother of three children, two daughters and a son. She was married but later divorced. She was gainfully employed and had health insurance through her job. She had friends and tried to be a proper citizen. Alice's member profile on Obesity Help is a powerful and moving account of her life.
Alice was no doubt flawed, as imperfect as the rest of us. But when the sum of all she was is considered, Alice Ness was a good person.
The Difficult Life of a Courageous Woman
Alice’s second daughter, Hilary, was a special needs child who was born three months premature. By the time she was twenty, she had had 78 surgeries. Alice’s husband did little to help with their daughter. He did not assist in caring for her, even to the point of refusing to administer the medications she needed.
When Alice was in her mid-thirties, she sustained what seemed to be a minor injury. The injury would inflame and transition to a deep wound that required hospitalization and IV antibiotics. Because of her duty to her daughter, Alice refused admission and returned home. The wound expanded until it went from her ankle to her knee. When the options became hospitalization or death, Alice arranged for her disabled mother to come from Wisconsin to care for her children for the eighteen days she would be in the hospital.
It was recommended Alice stay off her feet as much as possible. As a result, she gained a great amount of weight. Diet and exercise did nothing to resolve her obesity, and doctors recommended she get the gastric bypass surgery that was not covered by her insurance.
Alice appealed to her insurance company several times without success. Her doctor intervened and appealed to the medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield. The answer remained a firm no.
Up next: Alice Neff Grant for Free Weight Loss Surgery, Part 2
Obesity Help http://www.obesityhelp.com/member/alicem/ - accessed 5/7/12
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Published On: May 13, 2012