15 July 2009

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, 
saying, After I am waxed old shall I have 
pleasure, my lord being old also?
   - Genesis 18:12

Where to begin? We begin today with an ending. With a death, and an obituary.

Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara has died at the age of 69 years, in Cadiz, Andalusia, from cancer. Her death is noteworthy because of who she leaves behind. Her twin two-year-old sons, Christian and Pau, who were born as the result of in vitro fertilization a few days before their mother's 67th birthday.

In order to accomplish her goal of motherhood, Bousada, a single woman, was canny. She sold an apartment she owned to raise money for the IVF treatments. She lied to the fertility specialists, telling them that she was 55, rather than 65. Everybody apparently took her right at her word without bothering to ask for a birth certificate. She didn't let anyone in her family know what she was up to until a couple of months before the births.

Bousada shrugged off outrage and legitimate concerns, telling everyone that as her mother had lived to the ripe old age of 101, she might herself live as long, and see grandchildren.

Trouble was, the doctors who delivered the twins by caesarian section also discovered some tumors that later proved to be malignant. She was basically under a death sentence, from the day her sons were born. Now those children are completely dependent upon the family that didn't want them, and didn't understand or approve of their mother's actions.

I am not making this up.

Here are some other names and numbers for you: Omkari Panwar (70), Adriana Iliescu (66), Harriet Stole (66), Elizabeth Adeney (66), Satyabhama Mahapatra (65), Liz Buttle (64), Papathiammal Subramaniam (64), Arceli Keh (63), Patricia Rashbrook (62), Janise Wulf (62), Rosanna Della Corte (62), and Frieda Birnbaum (60).

The numbers are the women's ages when they gave birth. Do you think any of these women are laughing as they read the news about Bousada's death?

I'm not laughing. I'm thinking about the stupidity, greediness, and vanity of old women who think of nothing but their own selfish desires.

Excuse me. I need to call my broker. I'm considering divesting myself of my assisted living center stocks, and investing instead in orphanages.


02 July 2009

"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly 
self-administered by its victims. The most perfect 
slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and 
unawaredly enslave themselves."
   - Dresden James

I recently had occasion to send an email that described some recent contacts I'd had with the medical community--primary care physician, specialists, surgeons, test technicians, and hospitals--an altogether harrowing series of exchanges that left me both anxious and exhausted. It occurred to me that I've had past experiences that generated those feelings in me. I recalled one in particular, however, that for a long time fueled my neurosis and paranoia. Everyone was out to get me. Lined up, in fact, for the chance to have a shot at me.


Did you ever play this game as a youngster?

It used to be very popular among physical education teachers when I was in grammar school. The teacher would gather everyone in the gym, pick two students (usually the best two, who were strong, athletically gifted, and possessed of an icy determination to win and a mean streak a mile wide), and then have them choose teams, one at a time. After, the teacher flipped a coin. The winners got to be the throwers in the center of the gym, the losers, the dodgers up against the wall.

There were dozens of heavy rubberized balls about the size of soccer balls, and when they struck you, they would sting on your bare flesh, bloody your nose, break your eyeglasses, jam your fingers, and generally mess you up. One at a time, each member of the throwers took aim and launched a ball at the wall. If it hit a dodger before bouncing, the dodger was out, and the thrower got to have another turn. If the thrower missed, the next thrower took a turn until missing, and so on, until one of two things happened: either all the dodgers were hit, which meant the throwers won, or if there was a dodger still standing against the wall unhit after all the throwers had a turn, then the dodgers won, and the teams reversed positions.

The teachers took a kind of sadistic glee in cheering on the throwers--"Harder! Put your shoulder into it! Aim for the mid-section! Aim for the head!"

We'd gone to the hospital at the appointed hour. After blood work, we took the elevator to the day surgery area. There was the usual fumble of paperwork, forms and questions that we've been asked dozens of times before. We endured the transformation from ordinary person to patient, via the relinquishing of rights to privacy and the open-backed johnny. Sea-change complete, we were ushered to a small, dimly lit room where we were asked to wait for the anesthesiologist, who would deliver us into the hands of the operating team. However, it was the surgeon who appeared. He informed us that all the operating rooms were still in use, everything behind schedule, and it looked as if there wouldn't be a free one until nearly 9:00 that night.

After some back and forth, we decided the operation wasn't going to happen. For one brief, crystal-clear moment, we forgot about being victims of the system, and took command of our situation. The surgeon didn't disagree with our conclusions, so we reversed our process, and left. Both of us were smiling by the time we reached the parking lot.

We're now investigating non-surgical, non-invasive remedies for the problem. There are a few, and we're going to explore them before entering that arena again.

Our backs were planted against the wall, the balls were hurled hard, and we are still standing.

Excuse me. I need to add my voice to Obama's cry for healthcare reform.