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At 67, Would A Hospital Decline To Save Me?

Would they decline to save me in favor of someone younger should I get Covid-19? Should I be okay with that?

No, I’m not okay with that. At 67, I have the niggling feeling that I’m just getting started on a significant journey. People in my family live well into their 90s. My great-aunt and great-grandmother made it to 99 and 100.

And I just had my second hip replacement surgery. I’d be tearing up the town if not for this lockdowning, quarantining, isolating sitch.

If saying “Hey there, I want a ventilator, too,”  is something other than subconscious rationale for “Not so quick, cowboy — you’ll have to pry that ventilator out of my hot little hands,” it proves I don’t feel ready to pass beyond the veil. The veil can wait. It’s always going to be there. Stupid veil.

We’ve all had the “Would you or wouldn’t you?” philosophical discussions of what we would or wouldn’t do in certain circumstances. Few of us ever find out if we’d really push the button that eradicates a million people in another country if it meant our families never wanted for anything again.

I had a similar discussion tonight with someone. She said she’d sacrifice herself (assuming anyone asked first before they yanked the ventilator from her), for a young mother of four, for example. She’d give up her medical treatment to save this mom.

I responded that I would not. This young mom is a stranger to me; how do I know she’s a good mother? Isn’t that the basis for the impulse to save her? Not just that she’s a mother, but that she’s a good one?

Why would you want to inflict a lifetime of neglect or abuse on children if she’s a bad mother? Their dad could take the opportunity (after a suitable period of mourning, ‘natch), to marry a nice woman. One who won’t send her children to school barefoot through the snow.

A stranger can count on me in many situations and they have in the past. I’ve given my lunch to a young, weary foot traveler; I’ve given rides to people whose cars had broken down; I’ve gone to bat for fellow employees against management; as a Pan Am flight attendant, I was trained to be a first responder; I’ve rescued dogs–which is the real litmus test — everyone wants to save the little old lady who saves dogs!

Ergo, I’m not a total waste of space on the planet. I hope I have pled my case. If not, give me some more time to think of other good deeds from the past. Never mind the sins; I’m trying to win here.

For said stranger, I would push them out of the way of an oncoming bus, while the hot exhaust brushes my legs and I barely make it to the other side alive.

But that’s the point; I was pretty sure I was going to survive this rescue when I started it. If I’m on a ventilator, and they want to take that sucker away, I don’t have a lot of hope for my chances. And with Vegas virtually shut down, I can’t even place book on it.

So what’s the criteria for getting that O2? Is it how much we (me and this mom stranger), each contribute to society? How much we’ve got left to contribute? How close we each are to death? What if she was going to die anyway, but I would have lived if they hadn’t pulled that plug?

Now we’re straying deeper into existential territory. I doubt doctors stand over patients and shout at each other in German accents their feelings toward the “sublime and the ridiculous,” while their patients choke out.

Regardless, they’d better be prepared to give me a full explanation of why I’m not worth saving if worse comes to worse.

I shall not go gently into that good night.

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8 thoughts on “At 67, Would A Hospital Decline To Save Me?

  • April 3, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Those who propose these impossible choice tests have never had to make such a choice themselves, and if they did, they’d probably freeze up and do nothing, or just shit their pants.
    I feel the same as you, and I’m ten years older. I’ve got a lot of science fiction stories left to write, a lot of people to insult, a lot of places to travel to.
    My wife BJ has a hula group. Since they cannot get together to dance, they’re doing hula via Zoom. Ten women (not that young) wiggling in synchrony on the laptop screen. Lots of life left among them!

    • April 3, 2020 at 9:22 pm

      Exactly. Thank you, Mike. I don’t feel as if I’m a “waste” to save, and clearly, you and your wife don’t either. When people–younger ones–don’t understand, they should remember the much older members of society who have contributed great things to society at a very late age. Like Edison, Grandma Moses, and one recently–the inventor of the lithium battery.

  • April 4, 2020 at 2:49 am

    Damn right, girl! I’m planning on being around for quite a spell myself. None of these silly choices for me. I feel we have more to contribute and want time to do it. And my family tends to stick around until the younger ones threaten to leave us in the middle of the freeway. My mom’s youngest sister is still very much with us at 90 something. (I lost track.).
    So stay safe, wash those hands , and we’ll get through this. Laughing on our bottoms.

    • April 4, 2020 at 4:34 am

      Haha! You crack me up. “Leave them on the freeway.” That’s what they’ll have to do with me! I’m not going anywhere, either. So give me that ventilator! XO!

      • April 4, 2020 at 4:04 pm

        Where would we be without you to keep us going? I’m on the brink of volunteer dying in order to save my faithful canine!

        • April 4, 2020 at 5:19 pm

          I never thought of that, Patricia! I would be sorely tempted, too, if it meant saving the dogs. “What about the dog? What happened to the dog?” All right thinking people immediately think this way when watching a movie. Even if there’s no dog in the movie, we want to know all dogs are safe. Snort. Keep well! XO

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