It was the holiday season of 1993 and Barbe was the single mother of 3 children, two daughters and a son, Christopher, who had Touretts, epilepsy, OCD, ADHD and Neurofibromatosis. Because of her son’s serious health care issues he received Social Security benefits and Medicaid. That was until 3 months after Barbe worked two hours of overtime…
It was then that she received notice from the state that her family made too much money and they no longer qualified for benefits. His medications at the time were $1,600 a month. Barbe had hit her breaking point.
According to her, after receiving this notice, “I very calmly got a backpack of his favorite toys together, Legos and Hotwheels, and took him down to Ted Stevens office in Anchorage. I walked in, put down the backpack and told the person at the front desk that I would be back to pick Christopher up as soon as they figured it out.” She told them that, there was no way that she could afford the $1,600 of medication her son needed every month.
After moments of panic, the receptionist told her that if she left him in the office they would have to call child protective services. Barbe’s response was “Good, because then he will have his medication!” At that point she genuinely didn’t feel like she could do her job as a mother; if that was the only way he would get what he needed, wasn’t that what was best for Christopher?
At some point a staff assistant came out and was listening to this exchange. The man took $300 out of his wallet and asked if this could get Christopher his medication to cover the next few days. He then asked her to give him 24 hours to figure things out. Barbe didn’t know what to think, but she agreed. Three days later everything was reactivated.
“I felt hopeless when I went down there. I don’t know that I would have left him, but I didn’t have time to write a letter and wait for a response. He needed his medication.” It came down to self-reliance according to Barbe. There was no one else. She describes that time as feeling empowered but “scared to death.”
In case you were wondering, throughout this entire scenario, Christopher, was happily playing with his toys in the corner. Barbe, still isn’t sure that he would have minded hanging out in the office for a few days.