Obamas share daughter's health scare

October 17, 2023

The Obamas might lead privileged lives, but even the most fortunate face tragedies.

The former first couple's lives were changed when their daughter Sasha developed meningitis, a devastating and often lethal disease in which the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord become inflamed.

Obama health diagnosis...

The couple first told the touching story a few months into Obama's presidency, as Barack was making a push for health care reform that culminated in Obamacare.

At the time, the former president said he gained an enduring respect for health care workers through the experience, which had a happy ending: his "precious pea" made a full recovery.

"The doctors did a terrific job, but frankly it was the nurses that were there with us when she had to get a spinal tap, and all sorts of things that were just bringing me to tears," Obama said.

On the campaign trail in 2012, Obama's wife Michelle gave her account as a mother.

She knew something was wrong when her daughter began crying uncontrollably - and after a trip to the emergency room, she had a diagnosis.

"As it turned out, she had meningitis. And they had to do a spinal tap," she said.

"She turned out – obviously, as this story ends, she is fine, she's healthy, she's a beautiful young lady, but if we hadn't had insurance, and access to a pediatrician, and access to a hospital where we didn't have to worry about the cost of care."

Divider in chief

Barack referenced the scare again in his best-selling 2020 memoir, A Promised Land, arguing that the incident made health care a "personal" subject for him.

Obama's health care legacy has been fiercely debates, with Affordable Care Act premiums continuing to rise year after year - and the country has not forgotten his infamous and misleading pledge that "if you like your plan, you can keep it."

While the former couple is much quieter these days, they have continued to weigh in on matters of public interest - from Donald Trump to coronavirus vaccines - and they have both continued to stir the spot with blunderbuss accusations of racism in America.

Michelle Obama even complained to one sympathetic interviewer that the country was not "ready" for her natural hair texture during her husband's presidency.

Her star power has left many guessing whether she will jump into the 2024 horserace, but she has previously dismissed speculation of political ambitions.

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