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Sunday, July 20, 2008

In Praise of PSI



So last Wednesday night I walk into an Irish pub in Haverhill, a city about 20 minutes from my home, with Kevin. "The Peddler's Daughter" is a wonderful little piece of the old country, in a cozy cellar location, with great food and a lovely Irish atmosphere, run by real Irish people. It's one of our favorite places to eat. Great fish and chips; homemade ketchup.

About an hour later a young man walks into the pub and heads to the bar, and I feel like i know him. Sure enough, I do. It's Tom M., the young man who tiled my cellar last fall. At that time was part of a work crew from a local contractor, and he surprised me, as he was putting in the tile, when he said, "Does your son have hemophilia, too?" Apparently, he figured it out from the photos I have of Paul Newman and me at Camp Hole in the Wall (can't miss that autographed picture, front and center as you walk in). We chatted and I learned he has mild hemophilia and lives in Haverhill. He and my son Tommy even have the same hematologist. Hmmm. I have people from all over the world on my mailing list but not someone who lives 15 minutes away? Well, he and his family were not active in the community. I added him to my mailing list, gave him a free copy of my book and sent him on his way, leaving me to enjoy my new floor.

Two months later Tom stopped by my office with news. "I quit my job," he said hesitantly. As he is almost the same age as my Tom, I guess I kind of treated him with the same care and concern I would my own son. "What are you, crazy?" I said. No job, no insurance; no insurance, no factor. What was he thinking? He didn't like his boss. And with no college education, it would be tough to find another job. I lectured him a bit and then armed him with a mission: call your hematologist; call your home care company and very quickly, call PSI. Tom had never heard of PSI. When I explained to him that it could save his life, I guess he listened.

Off he went and months went by. I didn't hear from him. And then, in all the bars in all the world, he walks into mine.

"Hi, Tom?" I asked, eyeing him in the dim light.

"Mrs. Kelley!" he exclaimed, recognizing me. Then, "I got a job!"

Poor kid: now he's treating me like his mother!

I was thrilled for him. Of course, there is a waiting period for those with pre-existing conditions... not to worry. Tom amazed me when he said, "I called PSI like you said and they are covering me until my new insurance kicks in."

Wow. Here was a kid who never attended a hemophilia meeting, went to camp once, doesn't know anyone else with hemophilia, quit his job not realizing the dire consequences, couldn't name his factor brand... and he did it. He got himself back on track. I was so happy! He was too.

While the photo is very dim (cell phone + pub lighting) I hope you can see that we are nonetheless beaming! With my son gone off to college, Tom M., is now officially the person with hemophilia who lives closest to me. So I do kind of feel like his mom, and hope we meet again!

Kudos to PSI: you don't know Tom but you have changed his life. Thank you, Dana, thank you everyone at PSI!

(To learn more about PSI and how they help people with chronic disorders who lose their insurance, go to www.uneedpsi.org)

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