As she was walking to work on March 4, her wish was answered, although not in the way she anticipated. Hogan was hit by a car going 40 miles an hour.
The accident should have killed her — at least that’s what paramedics and physicians said. There were times in the coming months and years that Hogan almost wished it had.
Without health insurance, Hogan was sent home with five herniated discs, an injured knee and a brain injury that would leave her virtually without a short-term memory for a year.
Barely able to get out of bed, Hogan lost her job. She went through her savings and has to take out loans against a court settlement she hoped would come soon. It would take two years.
Meanwhile, she had to sign up for food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security Disability.
Rather than have surgery to correct all five herniated discs, Hogan opted for steroid injections. But the injections caused kidney stones, which she suffered with for days before finally going to the emergency room.
The last thing people with no health care and no money want to do is to incur more medical expenses, but the pain and vomiting were unbearable. When she learned the steroid injections likely caused the problem, Hogan stopped going for the injections.
The food stamps gave her $4.70 a day for food, and Hogan lost a lot of weight. When her card stopped working suddenly on a Friday afternoon, the store clerk made her put back the few food items she had gathered. She was forced to eat rice and ketchup over the weekend. When she finally was able to speak to someone at the department of social services, the woman insisted the card was fine and threatened to call security to get Hogan out of the office.
That was the day Hogan hit bottom; it also was the day she began her climb back up.
Hogan endured unspeakable pain along with the humiliations she suffered at the hands of people who were supposed to be helping her. One doctor who was examining her to see if she qualified for disability told her to remove a dressing on her knee from surgery just a day earlier. When she told him her surgeon told her not to take it off, he labeled her as uncooperative. Fortunately for her, she was approved in just 10 months — a shorter than average wait. The $700 a month was nowhere near enough for her to live on, though.
Although she still has five herniated discs, Hogan has learned to control the pain with meditation, daily therapy exercises and gentle chiropractic.
“I have to stay on top of it,” she says.
Through her ordeal, Hogan tried to maintain her sense of humor, and the book she wrote about her experience, “Hot Cripple,” ($16, Perigee Books) documents her overall success. She describes herself as an incurable smart-ass, and attributes that quality to her success in her journey back to health.
The experience made Hogan an outspoken critic of the US health care system.
“It is so unbelievably broken” she said. “We have to remove the death grip insurance companies have on our system and on our politicians.”
Hogan worries about people going through the system now — even people who have insurance but still pay huge out-of-pocket expenses in the form of deductibles and co-pays.
“Insurance premiums are rising three times as fast as the cost of living,” she said.
Each year, more people lose their coverage, and with it, access to care.
Hogan supports the Affordable Care Act as a first step toward fixing the system.
“Is it perfect? No, but it’s a start,” she said.
Like others, Hogan is waiting eagerly for the Supreme Court to release its decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
“We’ll see what happens,” she said. “But if they strike it down, the whole election is going to be about this.