Dee Dee Flores

Flores Aguado 1

Dee Dee Flores is struggling.

Her head hurts. Her finances are so tight she can’t afford to splurge on a Happy Meal for her two children, let alone afford a pass to the local recreation center they desperately want. The stress and struggle is making her into a mother she doesn’t want to be.

“I wish…let’s just say I wish I were more tolerable to be around,” she says.

Dee Dee, 33, is a lifelong resident of Delta where she is raising two children and works sporadically as an in-home medical assistant. She lost her most recent job because she couldn’t take the risk that her sinus infection, bronchitis, and a touch of pneumonia would infect her 86-year-old client. She can’t afford health insurance and has been told she makes slightly too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Unemployment, her new husband’s unsteady work at a moving company, and bills from surgeries relating to her 2005 cervical cancer have left Dee Dee deep in debt and close to losing her double-wide trailer on an acre-and-a-half of land to foreclosure.

And that’s not all keeping her up at night.

Like Dee Dee, both her 15-year-old daughter, Isabael, and 12-year-old son, Brandon, struggle with dyslexia. Also like his mom, Brandon has severe attention deficit disorder and problems with anger and violence for which he takes four medications every day. Dee Dee is grateful that both her kids’ health care is covered by Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+).

Still, she knows that their wellness hinges on her own wellness and that, by most measures, she isn’t well. A victim of childhood abuse, Dee Dee has suffered from serious depression since age 14. Without health care coverage, she can’t afford the Wellbutrin that, in years past, curbed her depression. She also can’t afford the medication for her migraines she now tries to manage on her own by taking five Excedrins a day.

As Dee Dee tells it, “Ever since I’ve been off those meds, I’ve been pretty bad with my family. I yell at them like I’m a sheepherder or something. I get angry because of my depression, and I get angry that I’m not able to get anything for my depression, the therapy, and medication I need.”

Hers is a classic downward spiral. Her anxiety keeps her up at night. A lack of sleep makes her edgy and susceptible to getting sick. Her headaches increase. She starts smoking more than usual. She feels ashamed and angry at herself, which leads to the kind of yelling that makes her feel even worse.

“If I had money, I’d get me the therapy and medication I need to be a better person,” she said.