I’m not one to intentionally eavesdrop on a conversation but when stuck in a slow moving grocery line, what else is there to do? A woman ahead of me was talking to her friend and telling her about her mom’s recent trip to the ER. It seemed that her mom was admitted to the hospital where a CT scan and MRI of her head had been done, along with other testing and extensive blood work drawn. “Wow”, the friend commented, “what did they find wrong?” “They have no idea. They gave her some meds and sent her back to the nursing home.” “That’s awful, how old is your mom now?” “She’s ninety eight.” As they continued talking I gleaned that the reason her mom had been taken to the ER in the first place was that she wasn’t acting like herself. Apparently she seemed a little ‘checked out’ and not entirely with it. Really? She is in her late nineties, I would think she would be allowed to stray from herself every now and then. Personally, I have to knock back a handful of beers to achieve what her mom was getting naturally. If I make it anywhere close to that age, nobody better be rushing me to the hospital to be prodded and probed out of my good buzz! Leave me alone while I try to figure out why the old lady in the mirror keeps staring at me.
This is the problem with healthcare today; it makes absolutely no sense. Insurance companies are forever trying to limit or deny coverage to folks with pre-existing conditions, even if they are otherwise healthy. Meantime they are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars in a quest to figure out why someone almost 100 years old is starting to slip a bit. Gee, why would that happen? Could it be because we aren’t immortal? Is it because we will all die and the odds start stacking up against you when you have already lived nearly 10 decades? I like to think that quality of life is more important that quantity of life. Do what you can to make someone comfortable but draw a line with the heroics. Where are all those death panels we were promised a few years ago? When my best accomplishment for the day is maintaining core body temperature and drooling, please, somebody bring them in for a vote. Because lets face it, we have yet to come up with the product needed when a Depends Undergarments no longer does the trick. We haven’t pushed the envelope that far. But we will and it will be an expensive and stinky envelope. I for one, want no part of it.
In a sane world, people could think logically about how to approach rising healthcare costs. This would include how to decide when to run a battery of tests and when to let someone die with grace and dignity. But sadly, we don’t live in a sane world and you can’t just take granny down to the veterinarian to be put down even if she has started eating all the puppy treats and urinating on the sofa. I’m afraid all we can hope for is some pragmatic discussion to reach some reasonable consensus on the subject. Oh yeah, and some of those death panels. Just in case.