Today’s Healthcare – A True Story

Aug 16, 2009 by

 I write this solely as a tool to bring attention to the ongoing debate, much of it over foolish lies and misrepresentations, regarding our current health care programs.

Specifically, I wish to deal with Medicare and how it administers to the elderly and terminal in it’s care. This is not easy for me, nor do I often expose my personal life in such matters, but I feel the need to shed some light so that others may benefit down the road, so I will be as concise as possible.

My mother is dying.
It’s a slow process, including dementia, heart palpitations, and more. She generally is not aware of her status or surroundings, and is unable to recognize loved ones, even my father, with whom she currently lives, and has for almost sixty years. This causes her great turmoil and fear, not knowing who, what or where she is, or why she is there. Her brief moments of lucidity are racked with the realization that she has lost weeks to the unknown, and the surety that she will slip back in to this state at any moment. At an early stage of this condition, she created a living will.

 The living will states that, should she be incurable, and lapse in to coma, no measures are to be taken to keep her alive or resuscitate her. Likewise, should she be incoherent and lapse in to sickness of a life threatening nature, no medication is to be given to keep her alive in such a state. She has recently reached that point, where her condition is threatening to take her life at any time, and the preventive medications which slow down the progressive dementia are uselss, as she will not live long enough for them to be of use. Only the unpleasant side effects remain.

Together with my father’s decision, the family has agreed to take her off these medications, allowing her some peace and accepting whatever her natural state brings, ultimately letting her go.

Here’s the catch; Medicare, as it now stands and has stood for some time, only provides for ‘rehabilitation therapy’ in elderly patients. Had she not already a living will, Medicare would NOT provide for one, as it is not considered, ‘rehabilitaion’.

Likewise, if she is taken off of these medications, which create pain & anxiety each and very day, and will not do any good within her life expectency, she will no longer be eligible for medicare.

Unless she wants to be chemically kept alive for a year or so, mad and in pain, she will be cut off, and will be sent home, unattended, to be cared for by my dad (in his eighties) for however much time she has left. Considering that both my parents spent most of their lives paying into Medicare, this is ludicrous. And this is obvioulsy not about money. The cost of the medication over a six month period is greater than the cost of the 30 days at most she might live without them.

When the conservative movement starts in telling you that the ‘elderly will be ignored’ by this health care reform, tell them it’s too late. They have been for years. President Obama’s program, the one they call the “Death Panel”, is actually a hard look at situations just like this, and an attempt to allow these people some dignity in the final days of their lives. It allows for some measure of comfort to be given, beyond restorative care.

Furthermore, forcing a patient to take expensive medications they do not want, with effects that will not help, simply to comply with government paperwork, is insane. The cost of a hospital stay added on top of this is fruitless and is just too ridiculous for words.

This is not about euthenising my mom, or assisted suicide or any of those things one might say to earn a solid punch in the chops from yours truly. This is about a woman, deeply loved and cared for, who has simply reached the end, and wishes to go gracefully. This is about a government program that would force her to spend hours a day, puking her guts out for no reason, or get kicked to the curb. This is about having a choice in your own medical decisions. This is about what will happen to all of us, sooner or later.

I’m sure there are those who will argue and toss bible phrases and point fingers and hold up example cards. Maybe Sean Hannity will even offer to get water boarded again. It certainly was painless the first time he didn’t do it.

Or maybe he’d like to take Mom’s meds. She could sleep peacefully, drifting off to where ever she’s decided to go, while Sean wracks his guts out on his knees in the bathroom, day after day.

We need a change.
And we need it now.
My mother won’t live to see it, but my dad might.
I certainly hope you do.

I would hate to think of any of you, writhing through your last days, begging for a few hours of calm, as a clerk stands over you, watching the pills forced down your throat and checking off another little box.

Lord David
Skull Club
New Orleans

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