Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meditations on Mortality. cont.

Julie was recovering from her emergency colon surgery last year in a two-bed room in UCLA Medical Center when I checked in on her one afternoon. As I approached the room I could hear loud wailing and crying and quickly worried. In the first bed, Julie laid teary, but quiet. Behind the drawn curtain, the other patient, a tall young woman with a stomach cancer, and her mother were crying fiercely. Julie whispered to me that the young woman's doctor had just advised her that she is to be transferred to a hospice to die.

Now Julie's emergency surgery was triggered by chemo treatment for her breast cancer. and even though she was suffering grievously, we knew that after recovery from the stomach surgery, her breast cancer would be well under control due to the new, but very expensive drugs that were now available and affordable to her as a result of medicare. The young woman in the next bed, however, was not eligible for medicare and her private insurance did not cover the cost of the same drugs that would save Julie. So her doctor informed her and her mother--in direct words that stunned Julie to hear--that she had no alternative but to die.

A government health plan is not needed to tell us when we have to die; that plan already exists for those who cannot afford the benefits of full contemporary medical care. It is a plan based on influence, affluence and profitability. Humanity is not a factor in the equation.

Julie's next roommate was a fairly hearty Irish gal. She was from the San Luis Obispo area and had a cancer in her arm. The medical facilities in SLO were not equipped to treat her cancer so she came a mere four hours and 200 hundred miles to UCLA. After a couple of days, however, it was determined that her insurance would not cover the UCLA treatment so she packed up for her return to an indeterminate future and probable amputation instead of therapy.

The brunt of Julie's extensive medical expenses were underwritten by our government operated health plan. It is a crying shame than her two roommates, and so many others, do not have access to such a health and life supporting program.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Meditations on Mortality

Another old friend died today. At the age of 92, most all her other friends are already gone. What she had left at her end were her children and grandchildren. Their memories are really are a poor substitute for the contemporaries who lived with her, loved her, maybe even disliked her, but knew her as a person, not as a mother or a matriarch. But they now gone.

She, on the other hand, outlived many others whom she knew well and who lived on for a little while longer in her memories. The curse of the long life is the memories of those gone, and the never ending loss of their passing.

Nevertheless, all things considered, I, too, would rather be in Philadelphia.

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