Beginnings

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The structure of the first post of all nascent blogs looks the same to me. We’re talking about that I really hope you like me post- some post that states “wahhh, I don’t really know the identity of my blog, but I’m going to write anyway and hope that you find me interesting.” Creativity stroke on the train today at 9PM: the stories I want to tell, the stories that I feel compelled to share and tell are interesting and need a home beyond the confines of my mental space. I hope some of you will stick around to hear some of them.

I work as an Outreach and Enrollment specialist in Chicago, IL. For weeks now, I have watched my friends and family physically glaze over as I try to explain the universe of what that means to me. It seemed like a good time as any to give it a go a few days when I was in my second home of Grinnell, Iowa and still found myself lost for words six months into the job.  There is no elevator speech, no canned words, just an immense rawness.

I found myself starting by describing my day-to-day functions mechanically: I help enroll people and educate them in the Affordable Care Act, “ObamaCare”. I push applications through all day to help people gain health insurance. People usually went “oh, that’s nice.”

As I walked away every time, I felt incomplete, uncomfortable, but mostly just inaccurate. How do you capture human impact in a neat description? I’ve wrestled with that question for a week now, and this blog seems like a small step in figuring that out. What I do know is that any combination of words I string together feels wrong without telling the stories of Ann, Pedro, or any of the lives my team has touched this year.

What do I really do all day? I listen to people’s life stories as they bare down heart, soul, bank accounts, family life, to grant me a sneak peak into their eligibility to state and federal healthcare programs.

I see tears, laughs, raw moments, new learning moments, human nature, manipulations, deceits, anger, pain beyond measure, emotional scars. I see confusion at a new system change; I see wonder and joy at new health opportunities; I see frustration; I see apathy. In the short of it, I see human nature at its finest and frailest.

Enrollment assistance is what I do, but it comes with so much more than I bargained for. These are the stories of some of these I’m fortunate to work with. Names and substantial details will always be changed to protect the identities of those I have been privileged to assist. I’m not really looking for kudos here. I don’t really know what shape this blog will take, but it really isn’t about me. It’s about the lives we touch, the stories we hear.  These are the faces of the Affordable Care Act–the real ones– and they deserve a chance to be heard.

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