May 31, 2011

Jack Is Right!

For a week after her hospital stay my mother was in a rehab facility trying to regain her strength. Each day or so I would drive my father to see her. She was in a bleak little room. There was no TV and a crappy curtain for privacy. (Note: there is a TV room down the hall for those few capable of getting there to watch it.) Thankfully she had a very nice roommate who was suffering with terrible rheumatoid arthritis.

When Mom was sleeping I would wander down the halls peaking into rooms and studying life in this place. Actually it was more of a glorified nursing home. It was clean and efficient, the walls all painted a pale blue or nauseating pinkish mauve. Large gold-framed paintings of blossoms hung every 20 feet of so. An orchid here, a cluster of roses there. Semi-capable people scooted their wheelchairs to a point and then, out of frustration or exhaustion, slumped over dozing off cluttering the corridors. Like a scene from the upcoming movie, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Part 2: The Geriatric Ward".

An old woman across the hall from Mom would loudly repeat something like, "Please don't do that...Please don't do that....Please don't do that..." over and over in a voice sounded exactly like Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live (from the late 70s). This went on fairly often throughout the day and night. Though it was sad, I had to sort of smile at the similarity to Mr. Bill.

One afternoon, sitting there drinking some horrible old stale coffee in the "TV room", I couldn't comprehend why some of these people were even there. Aside from the few that were to leave soon after rehabilitation (like my mother), most of these patients were obviously being kept alive solely by drugs and constant care. Most of them had no idea who they were or who was visiting them. Was this any quality of life? One day while walking through the lobby I saw a woman wheeling a semi-comatose man out into a parlor type room. I looked at her and said, "Happy place eh?" She looked at me and replied, "Tell me about it, I've been here everyday for the past 2 years."

This brought my thoughts to Jack Kevorkian. He obviously saw this as a problem as well. He was brilliant, 100% right and went to jail for his actions. Why prolong this incredible agony? Ninety-five percent of these people will never leave this place. And, at a HUGE expense to society and their families, they are lying there being helped to eat, drink, breathe, relieve themselves and wait for the end....some waiting for years. Does this make any sense?

I have a real problem with this. Obviously no one wants to say goodbye to a loved one. But, because of the almighty religious right and thanks to big pharmaceutical companies that will suck every dime out of Medicare and Medicaid keeping a generation of lifeless, Depend-wearing zombies alive, sleeping in wheelchairs in hallways of expensive nursing homes throughout the land.

This is sheer lunacy.

I snapped this with my point-&-shoot while walking around the grounds of the rehab place. The grounds were beautifully manicured, though I think I saw 2 people outside the week I was there.

On a happier note, it's finally warm in NYC. I went to the park and Coney Island for the kick off of summer on Saturday. Crazy as usual. Pics to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment