Let us contemplate for a moment that horrible month of July 2016, during which I said:

More than once in recent weeks it's occurred to me that things might have been easier on us if I'd not made it out of the operating room. Or easier on me, anyway; according to one Facebook friend, I have endured "torture, complete with mind-altering drugs and sleep deprivation." (Being a thrashy sleeper is bad enough in a full-sized bed; in a hospital bed, it's frightening beyond words.) I came out of the proceedings with no ability to concentrate, only marginal ability to walk without assistance, and a truly spectacular pile of debt. Avoiding this sort of thing is, to me, what life is all about.

The brain fog has retreated slightly, and I crowdfunded most of the hospital bill; my actual out-of-pocket, after insurance and fundraising, was somewhere around $3,000. I went back to work on a limited basis in September. And it's still limited: I can't pick up more than about 15 pounds of anything, and I still get wobbly after five or six steps. Some of that, I am convinced, is due to wearing that "HIGH FALL RISK" bracelet for weeks: fear of falling haunts me to the very core. In mid-November, a rather dramatic fall put me in the ER for several hours and scared the bejesus out of me. (It also resulted in a plumbing bill, which tells me that the Fates have a warped sense of humor.)

Still, I am not actually dead, which is somewhat surprising: I still can't climb a stepladder or haul the trash bin over the curb, and driving presents more challenges than I need. Fortunately, I have plenty of time to feel sorry for myself, even as I remind myself that there are plenty of people worse off than I've ever been. And I suspect there'll be a lot more of them before too awfully long:

The ugliest political battle currently underway in Western society is not between Donald Trump and Mika Brzezinski or the United Kingdom and the European Union but between two parents with a dying baby and the British courts. The baby, Charlie Gard, has been terminally ill since his birth, unable to move his limbs or breathe on his own.

His parents wish to bring him to the United States for a long-shot experimental treatment. The courts object, believing Charlie should be allowed to die "with dignity." The European Court of Human Rights declined to hear an appeal, effectively sealing the boy's fate.

"With dignity," in this case, is more like "without expense," though the Gards would be paying for this treatment in full; the Death Panel — and make no mistake, that's what it is — cannot risk being seen as amenable to persuasion. Why, people would start questioning its authority!

And the only conceivable Higher Authority, or more precisely its worldly representative, has denied certiorari:

Against the backdrop of this barbaric abuse of judicial authority, the Catholic Church — the world's greatest defender of the right to life, and long a moral bulwark against state intrusion into the rights of the family sphere — has decided that the courts in this case are basically right.

Which tells me that the Church doesn't read its own documents. Paragraph 65 of John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae was invoked. Unfortunately, the paragraph in question has nothing to do with this case:

Euthanasia must be distinguished from the decision to forego so-called "aggressive medical treatment", in other words, medical procedures which no longer correspond to the real situation of the patient, either because they are by now disproportionate to any expected results or because they impose an excessive burden on the patient and his family. In such situations, when death is clearly imminent and inevitable, one can in conscience "refuse forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted".

The patient didn't refuse anything, in conscience or otherwise; he has no agency, because the government would not permit him or his parents to have any, and the parents clearly don't consider the trip to the States an "excessive burden."

For now, I continue to grow older. Maybe a year from now, I'll be in similarly dire straits, and my only chance might be some arcane procedure that isn't approved by our home-grown Death Panels. And while I seriously wouldn't expect the Vatican to intervene on my behalf — I donate to the Catholic high school I attended, but that shouldn't count for anything much — I am deeply disappointed that a successor to Saint Peter has apparently decided to be deferential to forces that recognize no authority but their own.

The Vent

  1 July 2017

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