Sunday, May 09, 2004

Who will take care of you when you're old?

Friday was One of Those Days at work. My sweet, angelic man with the brain tumor went to hospice. The funny, cheerful guy with the cerebrospinal fluid leak and the charming wife went home. One patient finally got out of bed and walked, and we got ten admissions in the last three hours of the day.

One of those admissions was a woman with metastatic breast cancer. It's a virulent sort that will kill her; she really ought to be seen by pain management doctors with an eye to palliative care...but instead we'll be doing surgery for a couple of pathological fractures and trying to thereby improve her quality of life.

Seven will get you ten, by the way, that she never gets out of bed again. It's that bad.

Anyway, she came in and one of my coworkers started asking the usual admission questions, including, "Who's been taking care of you at home?" Keep in mind that this person can't get out of bed, can't get to the bathroom, can't cook, can't do *anything* strenuous on her own.

The answer came back that her daughter had been taking care of her. Singlehandedly. For months at least, if not years.

Her daughter is ten.

Forget who'll take care of you when you're old, people. The question for a lot of folks seems to be "who can I get to take care of me if I get sick?" Often, the sick person doesn't have a basic level of support from friends and family, and so you end up with situations where the twelve- or ten-year-old child or the elderly parent or the equally-ill spouse is killing themselves to keep the person alive.

The best thing to have as a hedge against disaster, next to decent health insurance, is a wide network of people that love you. Doesn't matter if they're related to you or not.

In other news, I went to the weddingest wedding there ever was last night. I sacrificed five hours in three-inch heels (a bad purchase) to see two very happy-looking people get married in a stereotypically Perfect Church Wedding. It was nice, I guess. The good bit was seeing that they knew exactly what they were getting into, were totally into doing it, and had no doubts whatsoever.

Now I have a little box of cake to eat for breakfast.

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