I’ve only been starving once. Can you really imagine poverty?

October 15, 2008

I was hungry once. For about five weeks. But that passed.

I was in the hospital being starved by my physician in an effort to quell the anger in my gut. For more than a year the doctors had tried to fight the ravages of Crohn’s Disease on my 16-year-old form, but not much had worked.

Horrible medications bloated my body and caused similar symptoms to the ones they were prescribed to treat. So surgery was the best chance I had to get back on a healthy track.

I wasn’t fibbing. I entered the hospital in the summer of 1981 and wasn’t allowed to eat anything for five weeks. No water, no bread, no crumbs. Nothing.

But all the while, I knew that I would be able to eat again. I didn’t fear an existence without food. Or shelter. Or even medical care. I was fortunate.

This isn’t a column about my experience with poverty. If it were, you’d be done reading by now because I haven’t had to deal with the hardship or fear that accompanies lack of money, food and care.

It’s actually an early thanksgiving message because no matter what my situation, I’ve still had clothes to wear, a roof over my head and food to eat. Not everyone is so lucky.

In 2007, according to the United States government, the poverty line was $10,787. That’s how much an individual had to earn to ensure that he or she was above the poverty level.

Can you imagine? Many of us spend twice that amount on our car.

What about the people involved in new media or technology? While it’s a fun field to participate in, many people in the fishbowl spend about half that on all their gadgets and travel and new media event participation.

Ten-thousand bucks. That’s what it cost my insurance company for ONE dose of ONE medication in the late 1990s.

People spend that much money on a honeymoon and five times that on a wedding. And they’re often still complaining about their lives.

What if you didn’t have the cash? What if you didn’t have the support network? What if you were poor? What if yours was the face of poverty?

Can you imagine?

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