Look Down To Feel Up

Feet.jpeg

Listen, everyone has problems.


Whoever I talk to has something bad and fairly serious to complain about, and there seems to be new things coming all the time.


Just today, I heard from one person who went to the dentist with a tooth pain only to discover it had been silently infected for over a year, and was so serious that it literally could’ve killed him.


Another person told be about having a child with special needs and moving to an area with a school that could more effectively deal and help them. 


And a third person told me how they lost their husband many years ago at the age of just 39-years old and being left a widow. 


But people make the best of it!


They have to.


I remember my father saying when my mother got so sick with Parkinson’s Disease:

“We are part of the survivors club.”


It wasn’t easy to see her endless suffering while he selflessly tried to help her day-in and -out and cope with the physical and emotional pain of it all. 


When I was younger my dad would teach me about not feeling bad whatever the situation, and to always be grateful for what you have, and he told the story:

“There was a poor man who had no shoes, and he felt very bad…that is, until he saw someone else who had no feet.”


It doesn’t take much for things to get really bad in life…sometimes it can seem like we’re literally just holding on by a thin thread. 


But as G-d tests us and teaches us, we need to try to look on the bright side and be grateful that things aren’t worse….and yes, they can even get better again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Advertisements

Locked Inside Your Own Body

Decaying Body.jpeg

So being imprisoned in torturously tight spaces and uncomfortable positions is…physically, mentally, and emotionally harrowing. 


Of course, the criminal justice system centers around incarceration (and less so rehabilitation) and for most of history–from chains, cages, and dungeons–the most vile despots have placed people’s bodies in desperate restraints. 


But I have learned that people can be not only physically incarcerated and shackled, but they can also literally be imprisoned within their own bodies. 


My own dear mother suffered terribly with Parkinson’s Disease and I watched helplessly and in horror as the degenerative rigidity, contortion, and incredibly horrendous pain made her suffer so. No amount of pain medication could ease her unbelievable suffering…only death itself.


In another instance, a colleague’s spouse got sick with ALS and as this horrible disease ran it’s course, the person could not move, eat, speak, and eventually even breath on their own.  Their mind worked fine, but it was imprisoned within a body that continuously closed in on itself and could no longer function. 


In both these cases, the body itself was the prison of the mind and soul–no bars, no barbed wire, and no high walls necessary. 


Another case, I read and watched about his week, was of a husband and father who suddenly became a quadriplegic.  Kevin Breen was a healthy and active 44-year old, when suddenly he came down with a case of strep throat that traveled to his stomach and almost ended up killing him. He survived, but had to have his hands and feet amputated. Can you imagine the absolute horror of this?


There are so many good things that can happen in life, but also so many, G-d forbid, misfortunes–it is frightening to think about let alone confront. 


Locked up or imprisoned within our own failing bodies, leave mankind looking out into the darkest and deepest of the abyss, and that is when we need G-d’s ultimate mercy and to answer us more than ever.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Death With Dignity

death

It is amazing that still in the 21st century there is not widespread acceptance and legality of physician-assisted suicide. 


Even the term voluntary euthanasia (from the Greek meaning good death) is still considered taboo–similar to using the term radical Islamist.


People are afraid to call a spade a spade and deal with life’s complexities and harsh realities. 


All through history, mankind had the code of conduct and honor that when someone (person or animal) was mortality wounded by nature or in battle, they would be “put out of their misery.”


This is called COMPASSION!


Yet, in modern-day civilization, extremist PC-ness (politically correctness) dooms even such a basic fundamental act of decency toward one another. 


Like with radical Islam, the fear of saying it and admitting to a war against extremist and murderous religion ideology cannot be fathomed and so “leadership from behind” mandates that we close our eyes and pretend the boogeyman isn’t really in the room–even if it means continuous losing in the global war on terror. 


Similarly, with euthanasia, poor excuses for leaders fear that once the genie is out of the bootle, people will just be committing arbitrary acts of suicide left and right. 


Unfortunately, these weak people in leadership positions are not leaders, but rather cowards who force others to suffer whether by the hands of terrorism and war or by the unnecessary and cruel suffering for people with the most horrible illness and disabilities in society. 


In 1988, “Dr. Death,” Jack Kevorkian, provided assisted suicide to someone with the horrible, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and in turn, he had to spend 8 years in jail for second-degree murder.


Fortunately, there are now already 5 U.S. states where “physicians cannot prosecuted for prescribing medication to hasten death”, where individuals that “have a terminal illness as well as a prognosis of six months or less to live.” These include: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, and Montana (when mandated by a court ruling).  


Similarly, overseas in Switzerland, associations like DIGNITAS, provide services “accompanying dying patients at the end of their lives and assistance with suicide.”


The person must have a: 


– “terminal illness” and/or an 

– “an “unendurable incapacitating disability” and/or 

– “unbearable and uncontrollable pain.”


The end is made reasonable and humane by having a in-depth evaluation, followed by at least 2 face-to-face meetings with doctors, getting a prescription for the medicine, setting a mutually agreed date, having loved ones at their side, and self-administering the fatal dose of Sodium Pentobarbital (NaP), usually 15 mg by swallowing or administering by gastric tube or intravenously.


The medicine is “lethal, fast-acting, and completely painless”–after taking it, the patient falls asleep within a few minutes and passes peacefully. 


Having seen my own mother suffer horribly with Parkinson’s Disease, I know that voluntary euthanasia would not only have been the merciful thing to do, but the right thing to do to help people. 


Political correctness and fear of doing what needs to be done is no excuse for prolonging the suffering of those that want to exercise their right to die and who deserve their final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Aging Yet (Hopefully) Always Helping Each Other

Aging

I just love this drawing of the parents and child. 


My daughter found it on Instagram and sent it to me. 


As a little kid, my wife and I used to hold her hands and swing her between us when walking (like in the above illustration)–she loved that!


Now as we get older, we still try to be good, helpful parents (not too intrusive or helicopter-like–well maybe a little), but we can certainly see a day down the line when the cycle of life goes full circle. 


My daughter used to joke (I think) about putting me in an old age home–she knew that after seeing what my mom went through there with Parkinson’s, that is truly the last place I would want to end up. 


Of course, sometimes there really is no choice when a person just needs so much care that it is beyond what the family can do any longer. 


Frankly, what I have learned is that the most important and precious thing that parents and children can give each other is…time!


So is that child in the bottom illustration helping his aging parents along or is he dragging them off to the nursing home?  Perhaps, we’ll never know until it’s too late. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal from Instagram Unlimited Knowledge)

Cancel Out Those Tremors

This is a wonderful new product available from Lift Labs.

It is a spoon for people that suffer from hand tremors, like those from Parkinson’s Disease.

With tremors, a person has trouble lifting the spoon to their mouth and doing it without spilling.

With Lifeware, the tremors are said to be reduced in trials by 70%!

The spoon is battery operated and it has sensors for the tremors and performs countermeasures to stabilize itself.

It does this with technology including an accelerometer and microprocessor to actively cancel out the tremor.

In the future, additional attachments are forecasted, including a folk, keyholder, and more.

The special device was made possible through a grant under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research Program.

An awesome advance for Parkinson’s patients to be more self-sufficient and live with dignity despite such a debilitating illness.

Thank you to the engineers at Life Labs (and to the NIH) for bringing this stabilization technology to those who really can benefit from it.

The Pain of Parkinson’s

The Pain of Parkinson's

At the dedication of the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the picture of the elder Bush in a wheelchair really struck home.

My mom has Parkinson’s Disease and is wheelchair bound.

For a number of years, I have watched (feeling helpless) my mom go from a vibrant person to succumbing to the devastation of this disease of unknown origin.

First, for many years (before we new) was a slowness of gait–with everyone yelling “come on mom, hurry up! Why so slow?”

Then, the uncontrolled shaking, especially of her hands, and deformity of the joints.

Next came the difficulty moving, the shakiness when walking, and the falls–until the time, some nerves were damaged and her foot got turned inward, so she could no longer stand.

Therapy, a walker, and then a wheelchair, and now for most of the day–confined to bed and loss of basic movement that we usually take for granted.

With loss of mobility, came loss of appetite, insomnia, depression, and GI problems.

Despite visits to numerous medical experts–we could only treat the symptoms, but could never keep up somehow with the progression of the illness.

My beautiful mom has suffered terribly, and my dad (despite his own medical challenges and age) has been her caretaker through it all.

Dad has done all the things for a person that can be done–on call every minute–until exhaustion at times. He has been nothing less than heroic in his deeds, dedicated to my mom and doing it with endless love for her–and always remaining (at least outwardly) optimistic and hopeful for both of them.

My mom went to the hospital a week and a half ago and this last week was transferred to a home.

Her eyes show the story of her suffering, and her body is drawn from fighting the illness, yet inside her the intelligence and love–she shows with a mere rise of her eyebrows and smirk–gives me strength.

I love my mom and dad. It is a tough road when age and illness take their toll.

It is scary to think at times what the future holds for each of us and how we will endure in the face of it.

Mom and Dad have suffered in their lives from the holocaust, with seemingly endless hard work trying to make a living, and with debilitating illness.

Their story and lives are a monument of strength and courage, love and devotion, and faith in the Almighty.