It’s funny how HIPPA goes out the window in rooms where windows don’t open. In the bed next to mine was a gentleman who didn’t make a peep. In fact, I forgot that he was there until the social worker came in and started asking him private information quite audibly in anticipation of his discharge. How did he get to the hospital? “I took two busses to get here.” He had no possessions, having lost his car and his house and apparently everything else. Where was he staying prior to coming to the hospital? “I slept in the woods — but it’s rough out there”. Does he have any next of kin? “No, it’s just me.” With his 70th birthday upcoming in February, my roommate was understandably bemoaning his fate, but let the social worker know that he now had a girlfriend he was going to be moving in with. How’s that for putting things in perspective if you’re tempted to think you’re down on your fortune or fate.
A long-standing joke: If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. I hope to be able to use that line many years down the road, and saying it in jest. But for now I’m content reading books about mortality, and a new one by Andrew Stark just out from Yale University Press is an amazing read that I highly commend to you. The hospital staff found it a bit morbid that I was reading about such Stark realities until I convinced them that this is a rather uplifting book. The author concludes, after a considered and reasoned analysis of the alternatives, that mortality has its virtues. A sneak preview is available here.