Can we spend a minute and talk about how douchey the Emanuel Brothers are? Rahm, Ezekiel and Ari specifically who are as Old Testament nasty as their names. The reasons are long are varied and frankly not a lot of fun to get into. Today the focus is on Ezekiel who is an oncologist, bioethicist and I’m going to bet just loves the sound of his own voice. Reading his Wikipedia is exhausting. Maybe I’m just sick of reading articles written by people who are connected to everything—-like each one of these brothers have probably had bacon with Kevin Bacon that’s just how connected these dudes are. And they’re all low key hot which makes me angry for some reason.
Ezekiel just wrote a gag inducing article for The Atlantic that outlines the many thoughtful reasons that he doesn’t want to live past 75. Basically it all boils down to he doesn’t want to shit in his own pants. Good luck with that, Zeke!
Now I’m not a physician but I’ve spent the past 20 years working in a variety of social service jobs, mostly with adults who have intellectual disability and severe mental health issues. My job right now entails speaking with caregivers about how much support people need to remain at home or in congregate settings. So I’m physician adjacent. Over the years, I’ve met people sidelined with health issues that they were not expecting. Diabetes which can lead to amputation of feet and legs, traumatic brain injuries that result in uncontrolled behavior and strokes that leave people struggling to communicate their most basic wants and needs.
I’ve seen some fucked up shit.
Also, I’ve met people with remarkable resilience and tenacity. Like the person who only had use of one finger and their brain. No hands, no legs no control of any body part save that finger. Thanks to assistive technology, they could talk, catch up with friends on social media and play their music at a very loud volume anytime they wanted. I met a person experiencing blindness and intellectual disability who was very active! They had a job, social commitments, did volunteer work and had a full life. A meaningful life as we like to say in the social service biz.
For a few years, I had a caseload of elderly folks, many who were estranged from their families for one sad reason or the other. Some of them (like my own Mother) lived in $10,000/ month Assisted Living homes where they ate off of china with linen every day and had activities like chair yoga and volunteers to play show tunes for them. Then some lived in Medicaid funded facilities where they ate from plastic trays and had boom boxes blasting old Motown during their activity time. I’ve seen happy people and miserable people in either situation. Regardless of their individual disposition, most of them shit their pants.
Mr. Emanuel seems to think that it would be better to be dead than to be a “burden”. That losing his mental or physical abilities would diminish his life quality so significantly it would be better to not exist. What I urge for him to think about is that he will not be a burden when he needs the assistance of others, instead he will be a job creator. Plus, he’ll free up some space in the Atlantic for someone who hasn’t had a comfy life.
I think of my own adult daughter who needs assistance 16 hours a day. She needs help to bathe, to brush her teeth, to pick out clothing. She needs help to navigate any unexpected changes in her schedule, to manage medications and support when she has an unexpected breakthrough seizure. She probably won’t live to 75. In fact, every single day it’s in the back of my mind that a seizure could end her life without warning.
She was born with a disability, and she’s not who Emanuel is speaking of in his article but he seems to draw a bright line between the abled and the disabled. Uhhhh, that’s not cool, bro. There is no line, and unlike your statistics about what life expectancy is and is not, what makes a meaningful life and a miserable life can not be quantified.
When my mother was losing her mind to (probably vascular) dementia, she hated it. She threatened to quit taking her medication daily and for the last 6 months of her life I didn’t blame her. But we don’t get to choose these things. Plus…she was really active until at least 85 AND she smoked! She kept up with people on Facebook and although she couldn’t drive at night, she got back and forth to her favorite Chinese take out place just fine.
There are old people all over the place, some as old as my mom was, stalking us on Facebook, writing checks to Grandkids and probably completely supporting Public Radio. I, for one, am glad that these people are there.
Here’s my real run, Emanuel is slated to be on Biden’s Covid 19 task force. And I know that Trump has set what we considered professionals to be really low, I hope that Biden’s people are at least have a talking to with Emanuel about what a meaningful life is. And especially people over the age of 75. If he has any questions, my daughter would be happy to invite him over to watch reruns of Gullah Gullah Island and have a slice of pizza. Her life is simple, but pretty meaningful.