by Jane Gross
Some of the most compelling first-person accounts of family caregiving I’ve ever read come from the “Narrative Matters’’ section of the policy journal Health Affairs. Often these stories are written by medical professionals who have found all of their training and expertise useless when faced with responsibility for a parent or spouse. What they thought they knew they didn’t, and what they did know got lost in the emotional upheaval of caring for a loved one rather than a patient.
The “Narrative Matters” essay in the current issue, published online on Wednesday, is not about caregiving, but rather struggling to find care for oneself in middle age. It was written not by a medical professional but by a former physics professor who is profoundly disabled by multiple sclerosis. Michael Ogg, 56, lives alone in West Windsor, N.J., and gets by with difficulty, pluck and the assistance of two home health aides, who work for him three hours a day at a cost of $1,800 a month.
That is all Mr. Ogg can afford. He offers his story in support of the Class Act, a part of the new health care law that establishes a government insurance program for long-term care, limited in its benefits but available for as long as needed and regardless of pre-existing conditions.