Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), a more severe variant of Stevens Johnson syndrome, is without a doubt a horrifying thing to be struck with.
Anything that has to be treated in a similar way to severe burns is devastating.
TEN is a rare side effect of a newly prescribed medication, that causes the top layer of skin to separate from the other layers, causing severe blisters inside and out and leaving the patient prone to infection.
The patient, in this case, is Cowichan’s Andrew Blount, and he’s in the kind of pain none of us want to imagine, let alone experience.
Recovery will take months.
But the situation is actually worse than just what he is suffering physically.
Andrew was an entrepreneur who ran his own business, and thus there was no provision for sick leave.
So he’s lost his business and livelihood. His employees have been laid off.
He and his wife Teresa may also lose their home, as she is limiting her work schedule to try to be with him in Victoria and support him, which he will desperately need if he is to get better.
Community members are stepping up to help the couple financially and the fundraising efforts (https://www.gofundme.com/rx4x279c) will hopefully be successful enough to help them keep their heads above water and a roof over them.
But we can’t help but think that it shouldn’t be up to a fundraising effort to help people like Andrew and Teresa survive a medical blindside that they could not possibly have predicted.
In Canada we often comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we will not have to pay massive, crippling hospital bills in the event of an emergency medical situation, as people do in the United States, where health problems regularly spawn bankruptcies.
But just because you can go to a hospital here and not be asked to immediately empty your wallet doesn’t mean that sudden health woes don’t take a huge financial toll on families and individuals in Canada.
Self-employment is only increasing as people face layoffs and difficulty in finding more traditional jobs.
This growing number of people, like Andrew, are especially vulnerable.
We should have some kind of provisions in place — government funding — to help folks in these kinds of situations so people aren’t driven into poverty and destitution because of the roll of the dice.
Having people become impoverished in a double blow with a serious illness helps nobody — not the individual and not our community as a whole.