Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

About Never Giving Up…

with one comment

Never give up.

They are words I have lived by for such a long time, but once in a while I have to stop myself and think about what exactly they mean.

I thought of this just yesterday as a woman described to me the long  journey she has endured through a medical procedure that was supposed to be life-altering–and was. The problem is that it was supposed to make her feel better, but instead has left her with a series of side-effects and subsequent infections, illnesses, and depression. A doctor recently told her that he was troubled by the advice she had received. Yes, he would have recommended the surgery, but he would have also told her about the risks. At her advanced age, she may well have decided to maintain her active lifestyle instead, even if it had meant that her life might end quickly and soon. Now, she spends days on the telephone trying to figure out how to cope with her new-found dependence on other people–not something she laments in itself, but an enormous disappointment when she felt that her doctors were promising a longer, healthier life. She told me she felt bullied into treatment.

I returned to work after a week’s vacation–the first long break I had had in several years. Moments of laughter and bliss reminded me of the things that are so vital to life, the things that make our fight for independence and equality all the more poignant.

My work as it is right now is meant to be a series of short-term relationships with people who need a hand in an urgent moment. An accident, an illness, a sudden realization that what had worked before no longer works.  If I can save people  time and aggravation by connecting them with resources that will not give them another list of places to call, it can be great. No wrong door, we say. And some of us fully believe in the power of that community.

But more often than not, the need comes not from the disability itself, but rather from the maneuvering necessary to gain permission from an insurance company, a human service agency, the government, or a doctor. What matters most, not within the context of a medical system, or a payment structure, or a menu of best practices–but within the context of our own lives?

It troubles me when I meet people who have undergone procedures that may well fall into the standard treatment regime for a given illness, or who have gone through the appropriate channels for.. say, mental health services… all with absolutely no long-term benefit to the person who was trying to remain or become more healthy. In too many situations, I wonder at the very motives behind a surgery or even a prescription, when the consumers themselves are  kept ignorant of the whole picture, or ignored if they ask questions.

I do not think it is a situation of giving up when a person decides not to treat a condition, not to undergo the biopsy, not to have the surgery when the treatment itself may well be more traumatic than the condition it is intended to relieve. But too often, I see too many people who realize this only after the fact. “If I had only known…” they tell me, as they then try to maneuver a set of stairs, to obtain life-sustaining durable medical equipment, to see a therapist at a frequency that actually is therapeutic… Permission for the stuff of life, the adaptations that make it possible to live real lives with our various states of humanity–it is not a matter of compliance with a treatment plan, or cooperation with a human service system, or affordability within a payment model.

Never give up, I say, on the vision that the world can be bigger, more flexible, more inclusive.


Written by Only Anecdotal

27 Nov 2012 at 7:15am

One Response

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  1. How profound

    Carol haller

    28 Nov 2012 at 6:13pm


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