Below is a post from Thursday, January 29, 2015. This woman is still waiting for help. Her allergies are so bad, she is having numerous secondary health problems now. The day after the election, after the results were announced, I sent her a message telling her who won. She responded, "Well, I guess there's no hope for me now."
I nearly broke down in tears. As much as I wanted to tell her we could get her the help she desperately needed, I knew I couldn't promise that.
I truly believe this woman is a national treasure. She speaks our language and has since birth. At the rate we are losing speakers of the Cherokee language, we MUST do all we can to protect those who still speak our native tongue as their first language. We MUST utilize the knowledge of these Cherokees to revitalize our language or we are going to lose it.
I would like to believe that our chief, Bill John Baker, cares enough about the people to step in and say, "We have to do something to help this sick woman." Sadly, I don't think he will do it. I don't think Baker is going to do anything to help anyone unless they worked on his campaign, donated to his campaign, or has something to offer him in exchange for his helping them.
If Chief Baker truly cares about the people he was elected to serve, he will act to help this woman, a woman who has nothing to offer him personally, but who has much to offer us as a nation. I don't think he will do it.
The ball's in your court now, Chief Baker. Prove me wrong.
Linda Wolfe, a full blood Indian and speaker of the Cherokee language, has been trying to navigate the Indian Health Care system for over 5 years. At 47, she's still a fairly young woman, but because she is sick, she can no longer work. Often, she can't talk because her illness steals her voice.
After making circles in the IHS holding pattern for three years, finally, in February 2013, Linda was referred to an allergy specialist in Tahlequah. That doctor did tests, evaluated the results, and said Linda needed allergy shots. While the clinic said they could cover the cost of the shots, Linda would be required to cover the cost of her weekly office call visits, totaling about $120 per month. The Cherokee Nation's IHS wouldn't cover that cost and Linda couldn't afford it, so she's gone without treatment.
Linda has tried to go outside IHS to get help. She isn't eligible for Sooner Care because she has no children. She couldn't use the free clinic in Pryor, Oklahoma because they told her she was an Indian and had IHS. She can't afford "Obama Care" because Oklahoma didn't accept the Medicaid expansion. She's contacted her Cherokee Nation council person. She's contacted other council people. She's even contacted Connie Davis, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. If it is an option, she's explored it, yet she's still had to go without treatment.
As time has passed and with treatment denied, Linda's health has suffered in other ways. Due to her severe allergies, headaches were no stranger to her, but the one she had several months ago was different. It was a pounding, aching headache like she'd never before experienced. She was in so much pain, she had to lay down. As Linda rested her head on the pillow, for a moment, she thought she might die because the pain was unbearable. Then she felt a "pop" and the pressure and pounding in her head was gone. At that same moment, something ran down the side of her face. It was blood and was coming out of her ear. A subsequent trip to the doctor revealed that congestion from her allergies was so substantial, it caused her eardrum to burst from the pressure.
Often, when problems like Linda's are brought to light, the administration's excuse is that the person fell through the cracks. We've been told this enough that it's clear, we don't just have cracks, we have very deep and wide chasms full of people.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Enough!
I don't want to hear excuses. I want to hear solutions.
I don't want to hear "we can't." I want to hear "we will."
And I don't want to hear "she'll have to wait." She's waited long enough.
It's easy for our administration to ignore a problem as long as our people aren't aware of it. They can't ignore Linda any more. Now we know about her. Now we care about her. And now we demand action. She's lost her voice, but we haven't lost ours. Each of us has a chance to become the voice of the voiceless; to speak for those who can no longer speak; and to stand with those who are standing alone.
You have a choice. What will you do?
Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.
*Linda Wolfe made the decision to go public with her identity so the post has been updated on 21 Aug 2015 to include it.
copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB