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First Lady Obama Gets Personal Discussing Sasha’s Health Scare with Meningitis

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President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met with a group of mothers yesterday to talk about the importance of health insurance, but today during an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton, the first lady got extremely personal when she talked about a health scare the family endured when younger daughter Sasha got meningitis as a baby.

“I will never forget. It was a day when, you know, one hour she was fine, she was normal, she was happy, doing everything I was used to her doing and the next hour she was crying inconsolably, and that just wasn’t like her. And I did everything,” she said during the radio interview. “I tried to do – tried to feed her, tried to rock her, tried to burp her. Finally, I just thought, I need to call my pediatrician.”

“We had health insurance, which meant I had a really good relationship with our pediatrician. So he knew me, and he knew I wasn’t the kind of mother to call up just because my baby was crying,” she continued.

She said that after she described the baby’s symptoms, he insisted they rush to the emergency room.

“As it turned out, she had meningitis. And they had to do a spinal tap. She turned out – obviously, as this story ends, she is fine, she’s healthy, she’s a beautiful young lady, but if we hadn’t had insurance, and access to a pediatrician, and access to a hospital where we didn’t have to worry about the cost of care… If we had waited overnight, if we had postponed acting, there’s no telling what the outcome would’ve been,” she said. “And that’s why for me as a mother, I am just – you know, I just can’t put into words how important it is for every American, for every mother, for every person in this country to have health care, because you just never know what kind of curve balls life is going to throw you.”

President Obama, during the 2012 presidential campaign, also discussed the health scare during a dinner with supporters. He said:  “Your world narrows to this very small point. There’s one thing you care about, you don’t care about anything else.”

During the “Meeting with Moms” event, the first lady suggested that moms give their families a new kind of Christmas present—a family discussion about health insurance.

The first couple met with moms just five days before a Dec. 23 deadline for consumers to select a plan if they want coverage at the beginning of the new year.

Obama told seven mothers and one aunt sitting on couches in his office that the experiences of families like theirs drive him to keep fighting to make the law work. Several of the moms have children with pre-existing conditions that are required to be covered by the law, or have sons and daughters who now are able to stay on family plans until age 26.

“There’s something about moms,” Obama said. He said because of their credibility, they “can tell young people who think they’re invincible that they’re not, and prod them to at least get information.”

The first lady added that convincing young adults that they are not invincible is “our job as mothers.”


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