Belly Aching

Dear President Obama,

I am sitting in bed crying as I write this because I have a horrible stomach ache and I don’t know why. In 2005, when I had medical insurance, I was diagnosed with an intestinal gluten allergy. Since then, I have tried to avoid gluten at all costs. Avoiding gluten is no easy task since wheat is the cheapest additive in American food. (Did you know there is wheat in Twizzlers?) It is especially difficult to do when you have limited means. Still, I have managed. I am very good at living on nothing.

The reason I am crying as I write this is because, despite my efforts to avoid gluten, I have chronic stomach aches and, to put it as nicely as I can, I spend a great deal of time in my bathroom. I also spend a lot of money on toilet paper. Luckily, my bathroom is warm and inviting. I don’t mind spending so much time in there, really. It gives me a lot of time to think about things like drafting this letter to you.

I have consulted a nutritionist about my condition. She’s an online nutritionist from Canada where they have universal healthcare. When I explained my situation to her, the first thing she said I should do is see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis. I had to remind her that I live in the United States of America and that I am unemployed and that I can not afford to pay out-of-pocket to see a doctor to get a diagnosis that would take the agony out of the basic act of eating.

I would really like to see a doctor to figure out why eating an apple or a mushroom makes me feel like my lower intestine is going to fall out. I’d like to get some blood work done and see if there is something in it that will tell me why eating certain foods makes me feel so miserable. I’d really like to do these things, but I can’t without some sort of medical coverage. I can’t afford to buy my own insurance as my unemployment is just enough to cover my rent. Thanks for the extra $50 a week, by the way. Every little bit helps.

I do very well with living on the very small amount of money I make. I am 25 years old. I went to school just like I was supposed to. I even went to graduate school. I now have a significant amount of student loan debt. I have been looking for a full-time job for about three years now. Despite my degrees and experience, I have not been able to land a steady job. I was working as an adjunct professor and my classes were canceled due to low enrollment, which is ironic because I moved to be closer to the campus where I was teaching. I know I am not alone. There are 46 million people in the United States without jobs. I also know my situation could be a lot worse.

I have been working part-time jobs and paying taxes since I was 16. I pay my federal taxes every year. I am a law-abiding citizen. I went to college. I went to graduate school. Now I would like to go to the doctor. I know there is a lot of debate surrounding the public option. Honestly, this letter is not motivated by politics. It is motivated by my stomach ache. I would just like to go to the doctor and figure out why I feel so miserable every time I eat. Perhaps you know of a doctor who is willing to treat me for free. I promise I won’t sue. I can’t afford to a doctor’s visit and I really can’t afford to keep an attorney on retainer. I just need a little help. Can you help me?

Respectfully yours,



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Deborah R says:

    I’m sorry you feel so poorly. 😦

    I’m not President Obama so I can’t provide you with health coverage (but I would if I were President Obama), however…

    I do know that most counties have health care for folks who are struggling, and your county is no exception.

    Please, if you haven’t already, check out Greater Philadelphia Health Action (website: ). I don’t really know much about them, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to get some help there.

    I hope you feel better soon.

    1. cooktivism says:

      Thank you so much for this link. I have started the search for help. 🙂 -Nina

  2. Yalonda says:


    Your letter is beautifully written. I pray it gets not only read, but it gets you, me, and everyone else the results that we need. I’ve already retweeted it and I will again.

    This passage nearly brought me to tears: “I have been working part-time jobs and paying taxes since I was 16. I pay my federal taxes every year. I am a law-abiding citizen. I went to college. I went to graduate school. Now I would like to go to the doctor.”

    Believing in, and working toward, a more accessible future,

    1. cooktivism says:

      Thank you Yalonda. I have patience and faith. I know someone will help us. Hang in there. 🙂 -Nina

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