We limp into the emergency room and join the line leading to the nurses window. It is a motley, disorganized mass: a moaning woman in a powder blue track suit and oxygen mask ensemble huddles in the first chair; several blanketed bodies on gurneys line the walls, one trailing a frail arm that clutches pathetically at anyone who presses close enough to reach; another whimpers in a quavering chant, “I’m so cooooold”; worried parents hold a bundled, wailing toddler, its purple rubber boots protruding from the blankets; a bright red newborn squalls as the anxious parents insistently jostle and hush.

Directly beside us, a querulous old woman, hearing aids protruding and hair bristling in all directions, complains at full volume to her embarrassed daughter about the “gawdamned doctors.”

The automatic doors part and four young men hustle in, supporting a buddy who smells like gin and vomit and holds aloft a dangling, bloody wrist.

My daughter’s lanky 14-year-old body is draped over my lap, her hair curled in damp Medusa locks. She’s exhausted and frightened by the surroundings. It’s 7 p.m.; we’re waiting to have blood tests.

The moments turn to minutes. Our adrenalized vigil stretches out into a five-hour wait as the nurses attend those patients in order of direst need and ever more dire needs come in through the automatic doors every few minutes.

In the waiting room, a crime drama splashes its eerie blue light, the worried expressions of television actors reflecting in the grim faces seated in the hard plastic chairs ringing the room. An emergency room is nowhere you want to be, whether by choice or accident. But here we are with time to reflect and time to pray. This is elemental life. A woman is losing her baby in her third trimester; a young man faces an amputation; lives change.

I have been in emergency rooms before, hovering on the edge of death and irrevocable change. There are those things we cannot prevent, and those we must face.

As the minutes inch by, I reflect upon how grateful I am to have a networking business. It is our safety net and our health insurance as we make our way through these valleys. Today, as I write this, I am able to be at home with my convalescing daughter. In fact, I’ve been home with her all this week, pecking away at my computer when I can, and delivering tea and comfort when that is needed.

I have had experiences, too, with that other kind of health insurance. I know what it is to try unsuccessfully to obtain payments for someone in need. During the time I spent administering the health plan for the staff of a non-profit organization, I never found the insurance company eager to give out money. My networking “insurance,” by contrast, is ever eager and always there: it keeps arriving in my mailbox, steady as ever. E-mails arrive hourly from my capable business partners with their latest and greatest news of new markets, new people and new events.

I regret that I didn’t hand out business cards and information CDs to those flailing hands and worried faces in the emergency room. How incredible it is to realize that your income is stable and may even grow while you put your energy into healing, to know that you can take as long as you need to recover or care for loved ones, and that your work is sufficiently flexible to adapt to any physical disability or limitation. I’m guessing that most of those in the emergency room didn’t have that kind of security, and that today, they are coping with not only pain, illness and grief, but may also be facing a financial emergency on the horizon.

I am sorry I didn’t offer a solution to the doctors and nurses who looked exhausted beyond belief. Take a situation that is already full of crisis and adrenalin, add patient waiting times of several hours, and you have a work situation that is inhumane, with verbally abusive interactions arising regularly as frightened patients become aggressive. I am deeply appreciative of how these incredible healthcare workers continue soldiering on under such circumstances. It would be wonderful to see them having the option of an additional income stream and other possibilities when stress overwhelms or dreams call.

Today, between sleeping in to make up for the late-night stress, visits with my daughter, and taking time to write, I am sending out an invitation to 10 people I care about. Here is what I am telling them:

Have a look at this health insurance in a package called network marketing. I don’t know what you’ve already heard about this industry, but let me just say this: when I have been in dire need and unable to work because of a personal crisis, it has supported my family until things got better. Do you have a residual income that will do that?

Find a solid company, with products that you love and put in an honest effort—say, ten hours every week to help others create their own network marketing, “emergency insurance,” residual income.

When the moment comes that you are in an emergency room, facing something that perhaps you cannot change, you will be grateful you had the courage and wisdom now, to change what you could.


SHANNON ANIMA is a writer, successful networker
and co-founder of L.E.A.P., an organization dedicated to
transforming lives through applied values in business and life.