Someone I’m very close to, who’s my elder by a generation and then some, had a stroke a couple of weeks ago. The posts here on the site have been fewer and further between as some things got sorted out and others remain unresolved, and temporarily there’s a little less wiseass in this wiseguy.
Observations and understandings arrive unexpectedly and in a downright disorderly manner:
1. She’s one of the lucky ones, if there’s such a thing among stroke victims. She’s Medicared up with a good supplemental plan and an ace internist who’s well liked by the staff at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious hospitals. I guess if things are unfair but they’re going your way there are times to accept your good fortune in a bad situation without protest. This seemed to be one of those times. I spent 12 hours the day of the stroke periodically looking through a window out to the waiting room, which was filled with people looking for acknowledgement, a hopeful prelude to treatment. She, however, was ushered right in, and had a pretty comfortable private room within the interior section of the ER while tests were administered. CAT scans, MRI’s , blood tests; if it helped, she had ‘em.
Talking about every American having health care because they can find their way to an ER is a posture that would be shameful and ignorant coming from a thick-headed redneck. From the President of the United States, who muttered words to that effect a few months ago, it’s whatever’s beyond shameful and ignorant. If I was in Kannon mode, I’d follow that with something like “big surprise there”, but I’m not in Kannon mode, so I won’t.
2. Don’t get sick on a Saturday. Even in the rarefied environ she’s in now, an unresponsive hand which turned out to be a muscle cramp of sorts from the week’s rehab work, but which could have been stroke related, took 4 hours to be assessed by one of the few residents on the premises that day. I think a decision to go into high end medicine and reap what are still the substantial and relatively reliable rewards from that profession should also come with a commitment to foresake the conventional weekend on a regular basis. A virus, a cancer, and a blocked artery don’t know or care what day it is. A specialist shouldn’t either.
3. About a decade ago, she was in the same facility recovering from a hairline fracture of the pelvic bone. For older people a break like this can be the beginning of the end, in terms of both mobility and spirit. But the insurance company and Medicare reps saw the big picture and took the high road, which both allowed her to recover fully and not bother the gatekeepers again until now. They did right, and saved some coin by not being penny wise and pound foolish. As the social worker explained to me, the times they’ve been a-changin’, so tomorrow’s the first day of the Battle of the Band-Aids. The experts on the team present their reco’s , which are going to be firmly in favor of extending her stay in order to give her a shot at returning to independence, and then the government and insurance types consult their indecipherable rule book and pass down their verdict. The image of the recently deceased Mr. Heston receiving commandments atop a Hollywood mountain comes to mind. He received and accepted the dictums that came from above. I may not.
4 . Life is going to be inexorably different. Spirits have waned and then, hopefully, will bounce back, even if the body doesn’t completely follow. Potatoes can be baked and grandkids can be welcomed from a walker and a wheelchair.
Good luck one and all.