The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse: 2017 Edition #7 – ‘America’s Terminal And We’re Living in Denial”
Living in America today is quite a bit like living with a terminal illness. Not that I have had a terminal illness (not to my knowledge so far, anyway), but my husband did. When he was found to have a lump in his lung in February of 2018, it was pretty clear that death was imminent. And yet, with workups and diagnoses delayed (due to insurance issues) we had no certainty about where we were headed. His brother, a physician, seemed to feel that there were two options: one was that he was so far advanced in disease that no treatment was available, or, alternatively, treatment was possible in which case a few weeks of delay in diagnoses didn’t matter. So, to save money, the diagnostic process was delayed.
From February until the end of April, we lived in limbo. Jim had all the symptoms of late stage metastatic lung cancer, but without a diagnosis, we just went from day to day pretending that he would improve under his brother’s care. His brother gave him steroids to control the seizures (obviously metastatic brain cancer, but again, no diagnosis), and told Jim that, theoretically, he might just be experiencing an unusually severe nicotine withdrawal. To my everlasting regret, I went along with this charade for weeks: feeding Jim vitamins, preparing meals, trying to get him to cut back on sugar, going to and from work each day, believing that he lay on the couch all day not from physical deterioration but mild depression from being unemployed. Jim, meanwhile, distracted himself by looking for work on the internet (although it was clear, yet unspoken, that he would not work again) and—what a cliché this is—actually reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace from cover to cover.
Having had that experience two years ago, and been through a reflective grieving process, I find the experience of surviving COVID and Trump to be astonishingly similar.
I feel as though I am living in an America in which Democracy would receive a terminal diagnosis, but nobody is willing to put it to the test. Instead, we babble on about “getting back to normal,” and “building national unity,” and planning for the 2022 and 2024 election years, and on and on.
All the while ignoring the cascading escalation of symptoms that indicate the patient is practically deceased already and needs hospice care, not heroics, and certainly not a fantasy that intelligent treatments are being applied that are at all likely to save the day.
When Jim’s illness declared itself, it began with a cough, and then nightly seizures, and then constant complaints of fatigue and an inability to get warm, then lapses of memory and momentary blackouts, then an inability to eat, than an inability to walk and it went on and on and on—as the family babbled about upcoming birthday celebrations and his physician brother turned into the emperor of denial. I felt I was the only one with roots in reality. When Jim’s sister called from out of the area and wondered if she should come for a visit, I advised her to come as soon as possible, that I thought Jim might not survive more than a few weeks. She asked, “how do you know?” and I could only answer, “I just know.” Because nobody in the family was prepared to get a diagnosis. I told her this and she said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Our brother’s a doctor. He’s not going to let his brother die.” As if there were a choice.
That’s how I feel about America this Tuesday evening, February the 17th, 2021. Our government and our way of life is dying, and the pundits are all saying: “Don’t be ridiculous! Biden (or ‘the people” or “the system” or the Democrats or whatever) isn’t going to let things get THAT bad. As if there were a choice.
I feel like our nation is having uncontrollable seizures effecting all systems, and all we can do is play whack-a-mole until the big stroke strikes.
I honestly wish I could be more entertaining this evening. But this is the best I got.
I’ll feel better tomorrow. I always do.
So far so good, my friends. So far so good.