When Donald Trump took the oath of office on a gray January morning in 2017, he laid out his vision for the United States under his leadership. “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease,” he said. “A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.” Nearly four years later, the divide in how we view the consequences of his first term remains large. But the nation is undeniably changed. From family separation, to nation-wide protests and economic volatility, to a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, Trump will leave behind a legacy—whether he’s reelected or not. We are telling the stories of seven individuals living with the consequences of Trump’s first term. You can read the rest of the stories here.
What Megan feared most in the early fall of 2018 was that she might end up in the hospital and have to be intubated. It was a reasonable fear. Megan, who I am calling by a pseudonym so that she can discuss her medical history candidly, has asthma. When she was a child, her breathing problems were easily controlled, but in college, her condition worsened. She often had asthma attacks that took her to urgent care or the emergency room. Later, she would learn that the concentration of chicken farms in the northwest corner of Arkansas, where she lived, could be hard on people with chronic lung conditions. She didn’t know that at the time; all she knew was that she kept getting sick.