What Happened Next

Source: What Happened Next

Short and sweet, at least as sweet as this topic can be. It is at least comforting to know that our loved ones are treated in death with a dignity in our healthcare system that they are not always afforded in life. The same healthcare system that did not do what it could, when there was time to save him, gave extraordinary effort when it was too late.

One doctor, his primary care physician, upon hearing of troubled breathing and coughed up blood, should have taken the time to say, “Go to an emergency room just to be safe. Get tests. Or go to a clinic, see someone to make sure that his condition is not life threatening.” Instead, he said, “It is Friday and flu season, so we don’t have time for an appointment for him until Monday.”

Two days later, another doctor, an emergency room doctor on that fateful Sunday morning, fought long and hard trying to save his life. He tried to keep our boys from becoming fatherless in a cold, cruel world where young boys need their father to learn how to become men, to turn to as a guide, lean on in times of need. This doctor strove hard, using every modern machine at hand, trying every technique he knew, paging other doctors, stat, to come and help him, marshaling them in a struggle to defeat death, yet losing the battle after more than an hour of fighting as valiantly as they could.

By the time I next saw my husband’s body, every trace of the battle was erased, his face was calmed, and his hair neatly brushed in place, in death, as it never was in life. His glasses were firmly placed, properly set against the bridge of his nose, instead of threatening to slide off the tip, as was more typical. He was lying still, too still on his back. His new hospital gown was smoothed of wrinkles and a light sheet covered him to his midriff. His hands were placed in the common attitude of death. No breath left. No life, yet his remains were cloaked in all the dignity that the hospital workers could provide for him.

His sons, now more than 17 years later, cannot even remember him. They have grown up with pictures and stories in place of a living, loving father who adored the very ground they toddled on when last they had him. Our eldest will turn 21 two weeks from today without a father to celebrate with him. Our twin sons will finish high school three months later, with no father to see them across that important finish line, to see them begin the next phase of their lives.

Is it right, that in the United States of America, a country that claims to be the best of all nations, that healthcare is more expensive, and yet more useless, than we have a right to expect? Is it right that after years of paying for healthcare service through exorbitant fees for insurance, a man can be denied treatment and ill advised even unto death? A man who served in his country’s military, then served as a peace officer, as well as many other positions as he traveled inside the boundaries of his nation, worked from the time he was younger than his own sons are now, deserved better treatment. Every human being on the face of this earth deserves better treatment. Why is it so hard to get the people running these countries to understand or admit this? Why is it that they care more about the next election than they do about the human beings who actually vote?