Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pathway to What, Now?

Did you ever notice when you were younger how people older than you… I don't want to say complained… let's say… mentioned or discussed physical ailments?  You know what I mean: Ow, my back just ain't what it used to be; that basketball league really killed my knees; oh, my gall bladder just can't seem to handle complex proteins anymore. 


Well, it's funny.  I recently realized why it is that older folks talk about these things.  As a near older folk myself, the reason became obvious the other day.  It's because we have these things – call them what you will: ailments, infirmities, conditions. Throw a few decades or half a century on a body and it has a tendency to take a toll. 


Some things occur and we don't think twice.  Take eyes, for example.  By the time they're reaching 40, they begin to flatten out.  Most people typically need some kind of corrective eyewear by this point in their lives.  It's expected.  We don't quibble.  But some of these other things – knees, shoulders, bladders – oy, it's enough to cause a little kvetching.  (You'll have to excuse me; I recently watched Fran Drescher's new sitcom.) 


Somehow I twisted my knee hiking recently and actually had to buy a brace for it.  This thing – knee joint – just didn't snap back like an elastic band and if I wanted to continue hiking, it needed a little support. 


The opposite of most 40-year-old something-or-anothers, I've always been near-sighted – no trouble reading labels or menus for me, thank you very much – but alas, been is the keyword here.  My near-sighted vision is beginning to falter.  I can't begin to tell you the havoc this is causing me while doing crosswords. 


I've also begun to notice a little trouble with the other two holes in my head.  I'm talking about my ears.  Ambient noise be damned.  I know you're supposed to look people in the eye when speaking with them, but lately I find myself focused on their mouths.  If this keeps up I'll be a lip-reader in no time.  Thank goodness for closed-caption TV viewing, am I right? 


I'd be remiss if I neglected to touch upon this common affliction for people of a certain age.  I used to feel getting up once in the night was an inconvenience; now I long for those days – er, nights.  I get up two to three times (we all know why) and by morning I feel about as agile as The Tin Man as I lumber out of bed all stiff and creaky. "Oil can."  (read: coffee)


Alright, what am I getting at here?  Well, it's like I said earlier.  We talk about these things as we age because we experience them.  It's not a 'misery-loves-company' type of thing; it's just what's going on with us – all of us.  And this is the real point.  Everybody gets older.  From the day you're born, you're aging.  Unless something unforeseen tragically cuts life short, the vast majority of us will, one day, be senior citizens.  Unfortunately, today, this type of senior doesn't carry any clout.  No 'big man on campus' prestige for those in the AARP population.  I don't understand why this is or how it even came to be.  In some cultures the elderly are revered – but those are few and far between, and getting fewer and farther out everyday.


Let's take a look at what our friends across the pond have been up to.  Some there have begun a managed care plan for the elderly.  Sounds nice, doesn't it?  It's not.  Sadly, these elderly are not revered.  The plan, or "care pathway," is actually a managed pathway to euthanize patients who have become costly burdens and no longer make any viable contribution to society.  These pathways may include starvation and dehydration.  Can you believe it? 


I can't help but wonder how far behind we are – or if we are.  Is there anything similar to the LCP (Liverpool Care Pathway) in our 2,000+ page Affordable Healthcare Act?  Don't lawmakers realize that the laws they make affect everyone?  But, you see, that's just it.  They don't actually affect everyone.  The lawmakers themselves are exempt from the very laws they enact and have us abide by.  That is just plain wrong – and quite contradictory to the Golden Rule, I think. 


If we could change one thing in our government, it should be to make the rules apply to the rule makers, too (well, that and term limits), but that would kill them – talk about a pathway to death.  You know most government is so liberal these days and we have "choice, choice, choice" chanted ad nauseam, but I just don't think that some other person, panel or board should have a choice about when someone else is supposed to die.  Do you?


I'd like to see a pathway back to sanity…


~ M.