Matt Brady – I.G.E Friend

Re: COVID-19, Michigan Unemployment & Medicare

My name is Matthew Brady and my partner Elizabeth and I live in Holland, Michigan. We met in our mid-thirties and have been together five years. I grew up in Cheboygan county, but Elizabeth grew up in Holland. Elizabeth has Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (Type 2C), which is a very rare form of LGMD. She can move her fingers and speak clearly and is able to work part-time from home. The muscle’s behind Elizabeth’s lungs have weekend to the point where she needs machines to assist her in coughing and ventilating CO2 during sleep. This factor also makes her vulnerable to complications with respiratory infections/diseases, such as COVID-19.

I am fortunately very much aware of the problem of induction and so I keep an eye out for big problems. I started preparing for the COVID-19 outbreak by early March. Elizabeth has aide care, and that is very precious and necessary for us, but the threat of contracting COVID-19 from an aide was a major concern for us. Elizabeth consulted her doctor in mid-March, and he recommended having as few people entering the home as possible. So I told the printshop (I had worked for eight years) that I needed to be her critical worker during the Stay Home/Stay Safe order. The printshop was fine with it at first, and when I spoke with HR, it sounded like I was going to get partial sick pay. Then I was laid off in April, and ultimately terminated at the end of May. By June I was completely unemployed and Elizabeth was struggling to get her aide care back to normal. Her aide care makes it possible for her to work and ultimately me. Having consistent, reliable, and safe aide care provides me respite care and allows me to be able to work full-time. Providing 100% of Elizabeth’s care (both personal and professional) for ten weeks was very physically taxing on me and difficult for us emotionally. Elizabeth finally got her aide care completely back on track by the end of July. Elizabeth has two aides providing her care and they are responsible and respectful of her being high-risk. 

I had a difficult time getting my assistance from the Michigan Unemployment Agency, but I finally did receive my benefits recently. Now the problem is finding a job. With a second wave of COVID-19 on the horizon, it seems like no-one is ready to begin hiring longterm. 

I’m very interested in relocating up north; where I grew up. I have stronger ties to a community there. I’m also concerned that, aside from Amazon and the 5G sector, the majority of our economy is heading for tough times. It just makes sense to me that the future is more local (in food production as one example) and so that’s where I’d like to see us. Elizabeth has a lot of concerns though, because there is a lot more to consider when you are significantly disabled. It would sure be nice to have some hope for Medicare for all or even a public option, because that of course is a huge concern for us. I lost my health care when I was terminated in May, and that’s not even one of my priorities at this point.

We are very fortunate and blessed compared to most. Our bills are paid for now and we have the basics. We are grateful to IGE for supporting the Western Michigan community. I wish I could spend more time with IGE, and do more in the community. I am trying to figure out how to help some environmentalists from home. I just hope people can come together and support each other during these troubled times.