Making politics out of chronic illness

I’ve been hesitant to wade into the whole discussion of Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s migraines. I don’t think I can stay out of it any longer, however.

I think people need to lay off. Seriously. I know it’s politics, and I know to many it’s a game, but this is out of bounds.

Lots of people have chronic illnesses. In 2005, 133 million Americans had at least one. I have a chronic illness.

Most days, I’m perfectly healthy. Heck, I don’t think I’ve had any kind of flare for years. But I can’t promise you that I won’t have one tomorrow. I’m sure Rep. Bachmann has a similar story. She likely takes her meds, takes care of her health, and goes about her life. Like I do. Like, I imagine, millions of Americans do.

I can already hear the arguments against this. What if she can’t perform her duties? What if she gets a migraine at a critical moment? How can we let her be President? I can hear these arguments because many of them were leveled at me by the physicians who were responsible for my training.

Did I miss a day or two of residency because of my chronic illness? Yes. But so did a lot of other residents who didn’t have chronic illnesses. That’s the main point here. Everyone is susceptible to getting sick. Everyone. Perfectly healthy people can get the flu and be debilitated. Perfectly healthy people can get food poisoning and be out for a day. Perfectly healthy people can develop pneumonia, or get gastroenteritis, or even have a heart attack.

Perfectly healthy people can get migraines.

So unless we are going to demand that Presidents never, ever get sick, then we should stop this. Rep. Bachmann has been a Congresswoman for some time, and her district seems to think she can handle the job. She’s been campaigning for President, which is a task far more demanding than what most of us would suffer, I imagine. Using her migraines to say she can’t do the job is petty, cheap, and refuted by evidence and history.

There are plenty of reasons to decide if a  candidate would make a good President. This shouldn’t be one of them.

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