What a week I've had online.

The launch of this site has been greeted with an overwhelming tide of well wishes, not just from friends and family but from people -- often fellow patients or their caregivers -- whom I've never met. In their supportive response, a heartwarming mixture of sympathy and empathy, I have encountered the very best aspects of online connectivity.

Elsewhere, I have also found the worst. I had explicitly intended for this blog to be apolitical (see yesterday's post) but the legislative frenzy overnight surrounding the Senate Freedom Act drew me into digital discussion of the bill. I don't know if it's considered as egregious to mix social media platforms as it is metaphors, but I took to Twitter as a patient-physician to advocate for more thoughtful reform. I could tell the atmosphere was fractious so I was deliberately trying not to be incendiary, just observing that bad luck can befall any of us at any time and no one should go bankrupt from medical expenses as a result. I shared that, despite my own best efforts to remain healthy, I am about to undergo costly, life-saving surgery that, frankly, I would be unable to afford without my current insurance policy. In response, another Twitter user told me to "go to France, they'll pull the plug".

I have often worried that the policy debates around healthcare have reduced medicine to such an abstraction that we have forgotten -- mummifying them beneath layers of bureaucracy -- each individual patient who is receiving treatment within our broken system. And yet here was another person, well aware of my personal plight, goading me to go elsewhere and quite literally lose my life support.

I cannot begin to understand how the rancor in Washington mutated into such hatefulness within the American citizenry. Nor do I pretend to understand economics, having never studied it formally at any academic level. But I do know that insurance is a shield against the financial toxicity of outrageous fortune's slings and arrows, and that we all deserve protection, no matter our political affiliation or tax bracket.

Mark Lewis