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I used to dance. I was a clogger. Clogging is like power tap dancing. I was quite good and I went about three times a week and danced for 3 hours a night on concrete floors. The groups I danced with performed shows at fairs and other events. After about 30 years of this, my knees were pretty much ground to dust. I quit dancing, and the pain got so bad over time, that I even quit walking. I bought a wheelchair off of Craig’s List. But even with the wheelchair, my knees were in constant pain because they were bone-on-bone at that point.

After I was finally declared officially “disabled” by the gov’t, I had to wait two years before medicare kicked in. Then, I was finally able to go to a doctor with some health insurance in my pocket – the first time in my entire life. Anyway, Both of my knees were shot and I needed two knee replacement surgeries and I’d have to come up with 20% in advance. That wasn’t going to happen on a $600 a month disability. I applied for MoHealthNet and qualified.

As I was going through the steps to get my surgery, surprise! I was born with a faulty heart valve. I have aortic stenosis. It wasn’t picked up before because I had never seen the same doctor twice. So I had to make sure my heart was stable enough for any surgeries. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the heart tests without Medicaid.

I was eventually able to get the surgery I needed and the rehab afterwards. After the third knee surgery, because the 1st one was far too loose and needed revising, I was FINALLY able to leave the wheelchair where I’d spent the last decade of my life. Now I can walk. I can’t walk far, and I’m still unsteady, but I sold my chair and haven’t looked back. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the assistance of Medicaid.

In a few years, I will need to have my heart valve replaced and I hope that I will qualify again for Medicaid. If not, then I won’t be able to have the life-saving surgery I will need.

Kaye Mallory Columbia, MO