Friday, February 09, 2007

What does it mean, "To Be Human"?

Nancy of Heart of a Family, is a funny, smart, great writer, and also happens to be the mama of an adorable son who was diagnosed with Williams syndrome.

She has a terrific post today about humankind's instinct to dehumanize those not like us. Of course, unless you're looking in a mirror, everyone is not like you. Different color skin, different gender, different abilities, different health.

Before reading her post today, I had three main things floating around in my head. I've been putting together a home-movie DVD and it has some clips from last spring on there.

Holey shamoley.

Because I was in it, because I was there every day, Little Warrior never looked like a cancer kid. Skinny, yeah. Dark circles under her eyes sometimes, sure.

But looking at the video ... there it is, the look of a cancer kid that we are all familiar with, thanks to tv: almost hairless, big eyes, pale, gaunt.

Alien cancer child.

The other thing in my head ... hurts, even though I don't personally know her. My best friend's aunt is dying of breast cancer. Literally, today, dying. Well, she would be dying, except ...

The doctor is busy.

The doctor is so busy that he can't get over to her hospital room to sign the necessary papers so that they can disconnect all the wires that are keeping her body ... not alive, but breathing.

What's another hour or two? (Or five or six ...) After all, she has the rest of eternity to be dead.

(Quick note: Little Warrior would probably have been born about 45 minutes earlier than she was, except the doctor was across the hall with another laboring mother. The nurses had me doing all manners of panting to keep from delivering. So, there you have it. Gotta wait on the doctor to be born and gotta wait on the doctor to die.)

And third thing ... I've got two cancer-parent friends who are waiting on scan results. The results are in, mind you, but they have to wait til next week for their appointments.

And as they wait ... they cry. And worry. And imagine the worst.

A patient is a patient, not a human. A patient's parents are cancer-parents, not humans.

Because surely, we are more compassionate to humans.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

(You are much too kind)

It's hard for me because I have always worked in the medical field and never known what's it's truly like to BE a patient. It's horrifying and dehumanizing. I hate watching my child treated like a science experiment. There are times when I look at photos of my son, too, and am shocked to see all of the classic facial features of WS. I forget sometimes there is something horribly wrong. Most of the time he's just Erik.

Tough stuff, indeed.