Commitment to Community
Forest grew up with divorced parents and health care coverage came and went with his father’s job changes.
At the age of fifteen, he was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes persistent sleepiness and additional symptoms such as brief episodes of muscle weakness known as cataplexy; vivid, dreamlike hallucinations; brief episodes of paralysis when falling asleep or upon awakening (sleep paralysis); and fragmented nighttime sleep. Symptoms last a lifetime. Cataplexy is often triggered by strong emotions and causes weakness of the face, limbs, and trunk, sometimes leading an individual to slump to the ground, awake but unable to talk or move for up to one or two minutes. About half of all people who have narcolepsy have episodes of cataplexy.
After his diagnosis, Forest’s mother took care of him with help from Medicaid which covered his sleep disorder testing and medications. Narcolepsy is a manageable condition, and with an array of treatment strategies, people with narcolepsy can live full and rewarding lives.
Forest graduated from high school and went off to college. Unfortunately, tuition and living expenses were too much for his family to handle and he came back home. Since coming home, Forest has held part-time jobs. Forest couldn’t find full-time employment with benefits, so he continues to rely on Medicaid to cover his expensive prescriptions and medical costs.
Today Forest holds a full-time paid service position in his community battling the opioid crisis and has a part-time weekend job. Even though he works, he cannot afford private insurance and relies on Medicaid. Forest is thankful that Medicaid helps him keep going so he can help others struggling in his hometown,
“That’s just what life is here. As soon as you think you’ve got your head above water, it just starts raining again.”
West Virginians Together for Medicaid thanks Forest for standing up for Medicaid by sharing his personal story. If you are interested in sharing your Medicaid or CHIP story, reach out to us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WVTFM/) or Twitter @WVTFMedicaid by sending us a message or give our Story Collection Coordinator, Lara Foster, a call 304-702-6708. Your story can help more West Virginians understand how important Medicaid is to our state’s families.