Thursday, February 01, 2007

How sick

I ran across this story,which is about a woman who wants to have her legs amputated. Nothing wrong with them, no disfigurement, no chronic pain, no reason other than she wants to have them removed. She managed to get it done by destroying her leg with dry ice, forcing doctors to amputate.

As a teenager, in the privacy of my own home, I used to play by myself at being an amputee. I would pretend I had one leg, strapping the other one up behind me and wearing oversize trousers so there was no shape. I knew even then that it wasn't normal, that it wasn't something to share with friends or my parents. But, trussed up like that, I would be quite happy and satisfied for a while.

She speaks of this whole process matter-of-factly, like anyone who has "Body Identity Integrity Disorder" just needs to have limbs hacked off to deal with this problem.

The saddest part of this story?

My youngest child is 10 and the eldest 15, and they do not know the truth about the removal of my leg yet. I told them I had a problem back in March and have had complications since. As a mother, I felt bad about not telling them the truth, especially when I was so ill I thought I might not make it. But now I feel it is better to protect them until they are old enough to understand that this was my choice. They will probably be in their 20s before I reach that point. Maybe they will figure it out for themselves before then, anyway. But I have given so much to my home and family that I feel entitled to do this for myself.

Who allows these people to get like this? Why isn't anyone trying to treat these people? Forget the damage they do to themselves, what are these kids going to see as normalcy now? She did manage to get the job done, after three attempts. Why didn't doctors do something after her first attempt? How about her husband?

Yesterday, I had to go to an apartment to check a phone line. The tenant seemed to be somewhat mentally disabled. When I went inside, I was shocked; the apartment was knee high or worse in trash. I mean trash. Not clutter, but trash. Dumpster trash. There is a path about a boot wide where a person can walk, but otherwise, knee high or higher trash. At first glance, yesterday I thought the kitchen counter was covered with coffee grounds. Today, I had to go back to the same apartment. I noticed it wasn't coffee on the countertop; it was roach and mice droppings. And mold.

How do these people get like this? Someone has to be funding this woman, be it SSI, or a relative, or some charity agency. She spoke of getting out of the run-down apartment complex this spring.

I am told it was after 'One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest' that congress made it harder to force treatment on people who don't want it. That was when the homeless population exploded. As usual, congress tries to fix something and makes the problem ten-fold worse.

I did some work for a homeless shelter in the '90s, and I noticed a statistic in one of the databases; about 80% of the people served by the shelter stated they were homeless because it was their chosen lifestyle. The caseworkers also had a field in the database where they selected a reason for the clients homelessness; about 90% listed mental illness or substance abuse or addiction. Obviously, very very few sane people would choose this.

I don't think any caring person wants to lock these people up and warehouse them. That'swhat the DNC does ahead of a party convention. But we need to get them some help, so they can enjoy life.

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