The kids jumped in, eager to do the heavy work and be part of something good. We made it up as we went, and after a year, I have to say it's going surprisingly well. Then my son got a job and we've been missing his strength and energy. My daughter moved in with friends. A couple of other young people are willing to help, sometimes, but they need to be earning wages. Before you know it, I was doing the baking, the shopping, the food pick ups and deliveries, the market booths, the PR, the networking.
Did I mention that I'm disabled? Yeah, I'm not very good at that. I like to push myself, do my best, beat my own records. I don't want to pay for help that takes money away from desperately poor people. So I overdid, over-committed, over-worked, started forgetting to eat, neglected my water bottle. In just a few days, I was all used up. A five-day hospital stay got me re-hydrated, re-nourished,, re-oxygenated, and rested. They brought my blood pressure back up so I'd stay conscious, killed whatever infections were trying to take over, and forced me to sit still and learn to breathe again, literally.
This is one of the safety nets we tend to take for granted in America. I had a dozen doctors of various specialties studying my chart. I had this amazing team of nurses that got to know me, cared about me personally, took responsibility for my recovery. I had two different IVs and a machine that programmed fluid and medication volume down to the second. An hour didn't go by when they didn't check my blood pressure, oxygen, temperature, and pulse. Medications were ordered and arrived in moments. Housekeeping came in twice a day to sanitize. When I buzzed the nurses' station, I had help in less than a minute. I had a private room with a beautiful view, a large bathroom, luxurious shower, my own thermostat, a recliner for me and another chair for visitors.
Why has healthcare gotten so expensive? Because it's gotten so GOOD. We expect the best that science and technology have to offer. Gone are the days of rows of beds with nurses holding wrists and looking at watches. No more are we prepared to hear, "I'm sorry, we don't have any medication for you, but we'll try to get some soon." An on-call general practice doctor when I arrive in the ER? Absolutely not -- we have specialists and consultations and hospitalists who, in addition to our cure doctors, serve as our continuity of care doctors. Oh,, and of course we have wi-fi in every department.
I'm embarrassed. I brought my illness on myself, and I should have known better. I should take more responsibility for my own health and quit relying on medical services to rescue me. I'm embarrassed that I took so much valuable time from busy professionals, that I used so many resources, that I wallowed in luxury while my friends downtown wondered if that lady with the bagels was going to show up so they could eat something today.
The tough decision is choosing between making some serious money to do bigger, better projects to fight food waste and hunger, or easing up on the physical demands and settling for a smaller impact in the interest of my own health. I've never been good at taking care of my physical self. Give me intellect or emotion or spirituality any day. But here we are. I'll be hanging up my baker's hat and taking Waste Not Food Taxi in another direction. Not because I can't do it, but because the abundance of care and resources and time and money it takes to back me up only takes all those things away from people who are suffering through no fault of their own.
We are surrounded, inundated, overwhelmed with abundance of care, of material possessions, of money and choices and opportunities. That's OK. We can have all that and be grateful for it. But we cannot squander it. We cannot take our privilege for granted. We cannot believe that we have all this because we deserve it or because we're somehow better or more worthy than the huge percentage of the world that must do without.
With privilege and abundance comes responsibility. We are in a unique position to use all these resources to make life better for so many others. To preserve the natural world that we depend on for existence. To reverse the mistakes of our predecessors and put mankind on a path toward life and health and dignity for all of us. I don't have the right to ignore my responsibility for health because my ego wants to do bigger things.
I have received an abundance of care. It's up to me to make sure it isn't wasted.