Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Firestorm of Controversy: Spoiled Rotten

I don't rant often. I rarely get involved in someone else's rants. But last week, one discussion on one of my yahoo groups really got under my skin.

The group is one for diabetics, and the thread started with an innocent enough comment by someone who'd traveled outside the country and run out of insulin. Having to buy it out of pocket from a local pharmacy, she paid an enormous amount for the small vial. Truth is, if you have diabetes, you pay what you have to for insulin, because it keeps you alive.

Her comment though, was that she realized how spoiled she was in the United States with her insurance because she only pays a small co-pay here.

That was it.

You'd have thought she'd written something incendiary with the intent of starting World War III. If there were more diabetics on the yahoo group, I have no doubt WWIII wouldn't have been far behind.

The word spoiled, apparently, is a highly loaded word to which many people take offense. It lends a vision of Paris Hilton and pampered dogs and having too much you didn't work for and having no gratitude for that stuff.

The emails began flying. "I pay good money for my insurance. That isn't spoiled, that's working hard." "I can't take my family to Disney World because we spend that money on insurance and co-pays to keep me alive." "How dare you say we're spoiled because Medicare pays for insulin? Taking care of those who can't care for themselves is government's job!"

When someone people started mentioning how good we have it in comparison to other countries where people actually don't have access to medication, someone else wrote back this:

"Some people are dead. Am I supposed to be thankful I'm alive?"

Ummm..... Yes. Yes you are.

Is this not the most basic principle of gratitude? That every morning we wake up and we are gifted with another day? I can only think this man has never lost anyone he's loved, or come close to losing his own life, and for that, even he should be thankful.

Life is precarious. Every breath can be your last. In the two years I've known two people - both young (one in his early 20s) – who died in their sleep. Two who were murdered in their own house by an intruder. One who, while walking across his kitchen to get a cup of coffee, had a brain aneurism and fell to the floor unconscious.

Every day people die in car accidents. People are diagnosed with incurable illnesses. People who are otherwise completely healthy, have a tiny part of their body give out with catastrophic side-effects.

In many countries, walking down the street can get you killed. Sleeping in your house can get you killed.

There are people without food. People for whom clean, drinking water is not an option.

So yes. Yes you should be grateful you are alive. And yes, we in the United States are spoiled. Even if we don't have all we want, the majority of us have what we need.

If being spoiled means having more than what we need and not being grateful for it, I think we are spoiled. I grumble when I have to shell out money for insulin and test strips and pump supplies. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, I'd love to do something more fun with that money. But I am ever grateful for the ability to have them.

Even on my worst days, I'm glad to be alive, and grateful there is the promise of another day that might be better.


  1. We do take quite a bit for granted, I think. thanks for the reminder to be appreciative of all that surrounds us.

    and, I'll totally call myself spoiled. I'm regular old middle class but richer than 99% of the world. I have a roof, food at the ready and good health care. I have a hot shower at the touch of my fingertips, TiVo for heaven's sake, and a computer with broadband. that's spoiled category stuff when you consider others are just wondering how to keep their kids fed or how to keep safe.

  2. Great! Now you've got me going!!! Good post, Heidi, and GREAT reminder!!!!

  3. So well written, Heidi! Yes, we work hard for health insurance, but that doesn't mean we aren't extraordinarily fortunate to have the option at all., unlike 95% of the rest of the world. Health insurance IS a luxury - whether we "earn" it or not. Luxury = spoiled. This woman was right on. Glad I wasn't in on the initial discussion.....grrrr!!!

  4. This is SO well said. Thank you!

  5. If only others could communicate as well as you do. Such a great post and well written. No matter what our situations, we certainly have much to be thankful for. :)

  6. Amen! My husband and I are struggling now worse than ever in our 33 years of marriage but every morning I get out of bed SOOOOO thankful I'm alive to see another day and I pray I will make the most use out of it I can.

  7. Man, after throwing up for nine months during two pregnancies, I'm grateful for the simple fact that I didn't throw up today.
    My husband spent some time in Egypt, when he came home he was like "I'm never going to take anything for granted again, ever."
    But we do.
    I'm sure one day soon I'll forget to be thankful that I'm not throwing up.
    Or that I'm alive.

  8. Good way of saying it. That we are spoiled when we have more than we need and aren't thankful for it.

  9. I'm finally getting back to answering blog postings. This is so well written, Heidi. I think my brother would have given anything if medicine could have saved his life. As it was, nothing worked when everything turned really bad. Whether medicine works or not what you're dealing with must be so hard: that's why your book is so important.

  10. You guys are all great! I was afraid I might get reactions like those in the yahoo group.

    I must pick really great blogging friends. :)

    Here's to a little gratitude in life!