- Special Projects
Mike Arotsky, aka Mike Tattoo, is covered in ink and loves his motorcycles. In past lives, he was a body builder and a TV actor. Now, at age 55, Arotsky spends his days in a cramped apartment in Howard Beach, Queens, spoon-feeding baby food to his ailing, 89-year-old invalid mother.
She suffers from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves and eventually paralyzes the body. Arotsky doesn’t trust anyone else to look after his mother and can’t stand the idea of sending her to a nursing home.
His devotion means personal sacrifices: Friendships and romantic relationships have taken a backseat to the daily cycle of feeding, cleaning – and watching old TV shows together.
“Unfortunately, American society is all about ‘me,’” Arotsky said. “How can you forget your original family?”
Early last month New York State health officials partially lifted a 17-year-old ban on transgender health care from Medicaid, affording people seeking surgeries transitioning from one gender to another coverage for the procedures.
But a key element to transgender health care is still unavailable because there are no surgeons in New York City who specialize in gender reassignment surgery. People who want to have bottom surgery, changing their body below the belt, and top surgery, which changes the body above the belt, need to go out of state for their operations, making the process more complicated, expensive and harrowing.
The regulation, which took effect March 11, has left Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital, which hopes to be the first in New York to provide transitional surgeries, scrambling to meet the new demand.