Prairie with postscript by barbara
As a "child" of an 85-year-old in the hospital this week, bearing witness to families around us in the ICU unit who are dealing with the trauma of trying to figure out arrangements for their loved ones and what will be allowed by insurance and what won't as they cope with the challenges of medical conditions....
As one who saw too much of the trauma of families dealing with the harshness of the healthcare coverage system amid their traumas of medical circumstance and care during the long years of my husband's illnesses which finally claimed him last July, I have just two words for Keith Olbermann's special comment:
It can't be easy for Mr. Olbermann to talk so publicly about his father's situation. And I thank him for his courage. It can't be easy to advocate so rawly for the reform the American healthcare system so desperately needs. So I thank him for his fortitude. It can't be easy to contain the full extent of the passion he brings to the table. So I thank him for expressing via his microphone what so many of us know and care about and do whatever we can, too, to advocate for.
We may not win this battle—the lobbyists and entrenched interests and too many gutless, selfish politicians and fools weigh against us.
But the cause is just, the need is real, and the people we love deserve no less than our full effort.
So thank you, Keith Olbermann. You honor your father.
And for one day, this day, my heart is a bit lighter because we've stepped back from the brink, Mom's out of ICU and into a regular room. Go, Mom!
Please, please watch KO's deeply moving commentary via the link above. I went through all the techie stuff of posting Prairie's piece before I watched it. And I was completely blind-sided when I did.
It is personal, tough and powerful. I sobbed through most of it, even though this is only retroactively about me. About my mom. About David. Those reading here who've been down this painfully difficult road with someone you love know how it is. Olbermann nailed it. Which is what makes it a colossal PTSD situation for people like me. So what is your point, you ask? Fair enough.
Personally, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to KO's father, to David, to my mom, to countless others than to take their horrendous end-of-life months, weeks, hours, minutes and make it count for something huge in this fractious and egomaniacal political battle over that which is intensely human, not political.
I will forever remember David, who was such a quiet, stoic man, seizing my hand and crying out in pain in the middle of the night, multiple times. What to do but call for help and drag him on a gurney through the spruce trees to the waiting ambulance and thence to the hospital to see if it was possible to alleviate his pain and keep him going. And going. And going.
Why? Good question. I guess because we had never clearly established how we'd know the battle was lost and what that would mean in practical terms. And even when the final phase of a killer disease is clearly in place, it feels somehow like a hope-killer to ask, for all practical purposes, "When do you want to die?" I had no heart for it, and apparently he didn't either.
Where do hope and hard reality intersect? I'm still not sure. But what I do know is how essential it is to have this conversation with the people whom you love long before catastrophic illness takes hold. This is not necessarily an issue unique to my age demographic, btw.
Please, please, as KO pleaded, have these conversations now. Very, very hard to do. But close to impossible when death is imminent. The now of this is crucial. Did I already say that? Probably. This is such a raw, emotional issue for me, I'm not sure I'm even making sense.
And then...and then...ride your legislators. Hard and often. Remind them that this is an intensely personal, spiritual issue, and there is no place for it in partisan politics. None. Death squad talk is utter bullshit. Don't buy into it. Please.