Sunday, January 31, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
My story: My father is dying of Huntington's disease. Before he dies in 8 to 10 years, he will need anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and drugs that fight dementia and his tremors and convulsions. He'll need multiple brain scans and physical therapy sessions.
Current medical treatments can't save him, but they will give him a few more years before the slow death strips him of his memories, personality and control of his body.
There's a 50 percent chance the same slow motion death awaits me and each of my three siblings. If I ever lose my job I'll become uninsurable, permanently. My sister already lost her insurance.
That means whatever treatment is developed for Huntington's will be unavailable to us. There's simply no way we could afford it. Not only high tech gene therapies or other interventions, but the medications and treatments that exist now that would buy us enough time to see our kids' graduations or weddings, and would give them hope of not suffering their grandfather's fate.
There's a bill that would mean we'd never be rejected for health insurance or have it canceled. Health insurance that could ease our final years, or maybe even save us.
But liberals are refusing to support it. I know there are principles and politics at stake. I know people are tired of being told to shut up and take what's given to them. But in the end, there a thousands of people with Huntington's and millions of people with other serious or terminal illnesses who will never benefit from treatment because they are uninsured. Millions more who are otherwise healthy will die premature or unnecessary deaths because basic health care isn't affordable.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The brain cells die fast, and blood pools in the sot, pressed places: the scapula, the lower back, the calves. If the body is not covered up, it produces a particular smell called cadaverine, and flies pick up the scent from a mile away. First, just one fly, then the rest. They lay fly eggs and ants come, drawn to the eggs, and sometimes wasps, and always maggots. Beetles and moths, the household kind that eat your sweaters, finish the body; they undress the flesh from the bone. They are the cleanup crew.
She even quotes something the killer said at trial - “Everyone dies of heart failure” - and she seems to agree with that statement as she describes various people in her life dying: no matter what the cause, it equally hurts. (I’d already quoted Bloom’s final paragraph – “I don’t miss the dead less, I miss them more” – for its precision and detail in an earlier entry).
Throughout the story, the narrator is quite morbid; detached. On first read, my students actually thought she might be Anne’s killer – “She seems disturbed,” they said. That’s a valid response, but closer inspection reveals how consumed the narrator is with grief.
Fourteen U.N. staffers, on the agency’s Haiti mission, have been killed in the quake. I’m not going to waste time arguing with Robertson’s outrageous statement. But along with the failure of our media to treat issues seriously, the muck and gamesmanship of politics in general, and my own inability to understand how people can be anything other than kind and grateful to one another, I find myself indignant. We’re surrounded by so much death and sadness that’s not of our own making, whether by accident of man or nature. How dare we diminish others?
in heartbeats as you life it;
bones speak in the language
of death, and flesh thins
with age when up
through your pores rises
the stuff of your origin.
when I look into the mirror I see,
my grandmother's stern lips
speaking in parentheses at the corners
of my mouth of pain and deprivation
I have never known. I recognize
my father's brows arching in disdain
over the objects of my vanity, my mother's
nervous hands smoothing lines
just appearing on my skin,
like arrows pointing downward
to our common ground.