A heart-rending debut nonfiction account of a couple’s struggles with insurance companies as they tried to recover from a catastrophic accident.
In January 2002, a
massive tanker-trailer hit Marcia Rhodes’ car from behind, and she suffered a
welter of crippling injuries, including irreparable spinal cord damage that
left her a paraplegic. Her husband, Harold, in this debut memoir, walks readers
through their harrowing story, including the protracted aftermath of Marcia’s
medical struggles and the couple’s fight with two insurance companies that were
reluctant to reach financial settlements. As the book’s subtitle suggests, the
author focuses on their tug of war with these companies and their indefatigable
efforts to compel them to pay what they desperately needed to cover onerous
medical costs. Rhodes’ depiction of insurance carriers’ cynical money-saving
strategies serves as a grim reminder of how toxic the mix of commerce and
health care can be. He also illustrates, with painstaking thoroughness, the
judicial system’s lamentable limitations and the ballooning costs of health
care. Additionally, the couple had to contend with a criminal trial against the
driver of the truck, who was charged with negligence. Still, the heart of the
book concerns the couple’s battle to manage the emotional fallout of a
transformative disaster. For example, after the author asked his wife to
politely thank him for his caregiving efforts, he realized the depths of her
depression: “She felt that given the way her life was, I was not being
reasonable to have these expectations. She was utterly depressed, so just
getting through the day was all I could expect. She was perfectly correct. I am
not supposed to nag her; I am supposed to love her as she is.” The account of
the legal contests can be excruciatingly detailed, and the book’s overall
chronological structure, which reads like a diary, can be exhausting.
Nevertheless, readers will find this a sad but inspiring story.
A moving memoir that’s
particularly timely given the current health care debate in the United States.