Count me out of your brave new world
May 12, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
A happy British oncologist says that expensive cancer drugs should be withheld from the elderly and given to the young. Dr. Karol Sikora (pronounced “sick aura”) is worried about the costs. Well, count me out of the you-live, you-die lottery. If it comes down to “justifying expenses,” as the doctor says, then I’ll cheerfully give my medication to an old person who wants badly to live.
The doctor is in a good mood because he doesn’t have cancer, and he wasn’t forced to watch his elderly parents die of the disease.
Dr. Sikora also doesn’t make sense.
He said that some cancer treatments – such as radiotherapy – were simply too gruelling to give to the frail and elderly. However, some of the more gentle drugs cost up to £90,000 for a year’s treatment and in most cases would prolong life for just three months, he said.
Well, if some treatments aren’t appropriate for certain patients, they’re simply not given. That’s standard medical procedure. Duh. If I had the top half of my head cut off in a lawn-mower accident, I wouldn’t be considered a good candidate for physical therapy, so there’d be no debate among the doctors on the ethical dilemma of withholding that particular treatment.
Also, if a patient lives for only three months, they won’t charge the family for administering a drug for a full year. At least, they won’t do that in the US. Maybe British hospitals order only bulk dosages and charge for the unused portions. Maybe they’re like restaurants: You pay the same price whether you finish your steak or not.
Here’s a paragraph to make any empathetic human being shiver.
Under the proposals by the Government’s drugs rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, a drug’s benefit to wider society will be taken into account as well as its advantages to the individual.
This death panel is not called the Ministry of Love but is instead the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which is abbreviated—as you can see in the article—”Nice.” Think about that. The job of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is to kill you, and it’s called Nice. I couldn’t put this in a novel. It’d be considered ridiculously inept satire, something a ninth grader might write.
Yet the Brits are living it. For real.
So, when Nice determines your treatment, it takes into account the benefits to wider society. Because as we all know, wider society has children and grandchildren, suffers pain and fear, is conscious and aware, expresses hopes and desires, keeps diaries, writes letters, and gives silly birthday cards.
Wider society creates whimsical art.
Wider society takes photos.
I’ll tell you something: It makes me angry enough to puke when I hear healthy, pampered, safe people intone monstrous notions “for the greater good.” What 2013 taught me is that anyone who talks about “the greater good” is an uncaring, unfeeling asshole in denial about his or her own mortality.
If Mom or Dad and I had cancer, and if the government were now in charge of deciding who lives or dies, I’d tell them to administer to either of my parents the medication I would’ve gotten. It would give me great pleasure to do so. For one thing all the hive-minded bureaucrat-doctors would soil themselves at the thought of a younger person giving up his life for some old, sick, worthless parasite on the body politic.
And that’s why I would love to do it. My gesture would haunt the Dr. Sick Auras of the world for the rest of their vestigial lives. That alone would make it worth it.
But there’s also a selfish aspect to it. I couldn’t live at the cost of depriving either of my parents of their lives.
“But wait!” you say. “You’ve never had to make that choice, so you’re just posturing!”
Nope. Sorry. I made that choice on December 28, 1995, the night Tim and I were almost murdered at our bookstore. The gunman appeared, squealed, “Don’t fuck with me, man!” and shoved his TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol in my face. I instantly turned and ran.
You’d never know it from looking at me, but I can run really, really fast, and I had eight gallons on adrenaline in my system. I left that bastard in the dust. The entire empty street was open before me, and I was covering fifteen or twenty feet with each step. Terror makes your IQ go up, so I was about a hundred times smarter than I am normally. With my new brain clicking away, calculating odds and tactics, my escape was assured.
But I turned around and ran back to Tim. I couldn’t leave him to die alone, even though it was HIS FUCKING FAULT because I TOLD HIM that the car was there, and he just snapped at me the way he does when he gets all cranky.
“Well, don’t worry about it.”
What does that even mean? He was channeling our father: “Shut up, Little Tommy Ketchup Face.”
Thus despite being utterly pissed off at Tim, I ran back to die with him. How many of you can say that you offered to give up your life in a meaningless gesture for someone you didn’t even like at the time? I was thinking, Thanks a lot, Tim. You’d better appreciate my murder, you son of a bitch.
I can therefore say with absolute conviction that if we ever become the sort of hellhole that Britain is, and if you read that I’ve got cancer, drop me a line even if you’re a total stranger and ninety-five years old. I’ll give you my medication, and we can laugh at the death panel.
What’ll be even better is if I croak in a week and then you follow me two days later! We’ll meet up on the other side and have a blast telling all the other stiffs how we left behind a hospital full of furious, confused ‘droids.
My mother liked silliness. Today I photographed some holly for her. To me it looks like two drunk pterodactyls or Martians.
Dad is problematic. He has a lot more to answer for than Mom. Since he put himself there, he gets to face the consequences. For him, a eucalyptus-bark wolf howling at the evening sky. The wolf may be suffering, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Besides, its suffering may help it atone.
I mean it. Keep an eye on my blog. If I announce that I have cancer, put me in touch with your great-great-grandmother. Together we’ll strike a blow against the “for the greater good” crowd that they’ll never forget.
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