I’ve had severe asthma since I was 17. For a short time, the drugs I needed to live a normal life were covered under my family’s plan. At 21, I was off that plan.

“Luckily” my Mom also had asthma. So, until she died, she would order extra inhalers to make sure I had some of the medicine I needed. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

At 27, I was forced onto welfare for a short time, after which I worked two jobs for over two decades until my health forced me back onto assistance. Even while I worked, I could barely afford any medications. I took my inhalers as needed, instead of as prescribed, so my asthma was never really stable.

As I get older, I have more health issues. I’m supposed to be on drugs for high blood pressure and cholesterol. I only take the high blood pressure pills when my head is about to explode and I can’t afford the cholesterol medicine at all, even though I’m showing symptoms from not treating it. And I have sleep apnea but my machine broke. At my income, that’s how it will stay.

Trying to decide which condition to treat each month is like slow motion “Russian Roulette.”

I know I should be treating all my conditions, but how do you make unthinkable choices?