February 23, 2004

The Treatment

Mother and son sat in the geriatric waiting room of the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. The room was large, it could easily accommodate fifty people, but today they were alone in the room. They had been told that the room is used less and less now that most Treatments have been co-opted by the clinics. But they needed to be here in this hospital. Only here could they have their loved-one declared incompetent so that he could be Treated without his consent. Only here in this advanced ICU would there be any chance for someone in his state of decline surviving long enough to receive the Treatment.

And it seemed fitting that "Doc" receive Treatment here where he had practiced medicine for so many years.

They sat quietly as they waited. They had convinced each other that it was the right decision, but it hadn't been easy. For years Doc had lectured against taking what he called "radical steps" when, as he said, "his time came."

"Other people can do that," he had said looking at his son, and then to his wife, "I don't judge anyone for doing it. Not anymore. But you should respect my wishes on this – for me, no Treatment."

Doc's wife, Sharon, remembered that conversation and shook her head involuntarily.

"What?" asked Frank.

"I was just remembering how adamant your father was that we not do this."

Frank looked at his mother. Just three years before she had joined a clinic and had gotten in shape. Once she had trouble walking up a flight of stairs, but last month she ran the Boston marathon. So many had participated in the event over the last few years that organizers were thinking of making the race longer. Sharon had said she wanted to run the famous race before it was "stretched."

"Do you suppose Dad really thinks he's being noble?" Frank asked. It was a conversation that they'd had before. They loved him, but they had a hard time understanding why a doctor would refuse standard medical care.

"A false sense of nobility, or maybe guilt. Whatever, it doesn't matter. If he did things wrong in the past, I don't see how suicide by neglect would make up for that now."

Frank added, "You know they are talking about making it illegal."

"What's that?" Sharon asked, "Suicide by neglect?"


"That's kind of personal, isn't it?" she paused thinking, "It's personal but I understand. People are important. And not just for themselves, but everybody else around them."

They fell quiet again. They knew it wouldn't be long now and they were both nervous. What would they say to him if he survived? What would he say to them?

The door to the room opened and a man who looked about twenty walked in. He was wearing a hospital gown and was walking with a guarded gait. That walk, a passing relic of worn out joints and bones, sparked recognition in Sharon.

"Doc! You made it!" Sharon exclaimed. She and Frank both jumped up and embraced the patient.

Dr. Leon Kass looked at his wife and son, "No Treatment I said. No life extension of any kind. You people have trouble following instructions."

Frank looked over and saw a stricken look on his mother's face. Frank spoke up, "Dad we couldn't let you go. We…"

Doc broke into a slow smile. "Heaven can wait Son. Someday I'll get over this betrayal – it appears I've got the time."

Frank blinked. He was genuinely surprised. "When can you leave?" asked Sharon.

"They're filling out the release forms now. I'll be out of here in a couple of hours." Doc said.

Sharon laughed, "Who's up for a marathon?"

Posted by Stephen Gordon at February 23, 2004 12:28 PM | TrackBack

Absolutely brilliant!

In the next installment, will we see the rejuvenated Dr. Kass take up the cause he once fought, now working to advance progress with even greater conviction than he once showed in trying to block it? Kind of an Apostle Paul for Life Extension?

Posted by: Phil Bowermaster at February 23, 2004 01:13 PM

Clever, yes. I'm more of a cynic than Stephen, I think, in that I'm fairly sure that Kass will be keeping up with the latest in medical technology without any external prompting needed at all. Those who decry the loudest are quite often the heaviest users.

Posted by: Reason at February 23, 2004 06:00 PM

Don't forget about security. Secureroot.org

Posted by: Augustus at July 6, 2004 12:38 AM
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