Thursday, September 15, 2011

Things That Make You Go "Ouch!"

When I saw the headline crawl across the top of my screen I immediately clicked on it because it looked so wrong. Pat Robertson, one of the long time leaders of the Religious Reich and a former GOP candidate for president, told his followers that it's OK to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer's.

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's is justifiable because the disease is "a kind of death."

During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder.

"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said. ...

Terry Meeuwsen, Robertson's co-host, asked him about couples' marriage vows to take care of each other "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health."

"If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part,'" Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. "This is a kind of death."

My first response was one of outrage because it sounded so cold and unfeeling, like something Newt Gingrich would do and say when a sick spouse became inconvenient. No, Pat, people with Alzheimer's, at whatever stage, are not walking, breathing corpses, suitable for throwing away.

Now, as most of you know, I have a horse in this race. My father and brother both died of complications from this horrible disease and I have been diagnosed with the early markers. My mother was the primary care-giver for both my dad and brother. She told me that it broke her heart when she went to see my father on their sixtieth wedding anniversary and he didn't have a clue as to who she was and what she was doing there at his bedside. Yet that didn't stop her from going to see him every day when she could no longer care for him at home and I don't think she ever considered divorcing him so she could start over even after she secured his care. That was simply out of the question. He was her husband and she loved him.

As conservative a Christian as my mother was, she would have been both appalled and outraged by Rev. Robertson's suggestion, even as I was upon reading this short blurb. But the issue isn't really all that easy once the sexist and faux "ethics" employed by Mr. Robertson's clearly hypocritical answer are stripped away.

My mother was in many respects one of the lucky victims. My father had a good pension, one that guaranteed a good health insurance policy to supplement Medicare. Their mortgage had long been paid off before he required custodial care. She could afford to get him the care he needed around the clock. Most families, especially these days, aren't so fortunate. The economic cost of this disease, like most catastrophic illnesses, is horrendous. I can easily imagine a scenario in which divorcing the Alzheimer's patient might be necessary for the surviving spouse to ensure both decent medical care via Medicaid for the patient and to avoid total economic collapse for the family.

This country's health care system, even under the new-and-improved plan of Obama care, doesn't even come close to dealing with issues like these. It could, of course, but it doesn't. And that's to our shame and the shame of our owners.

And it doesn't excuse Rev. Robertson's tone-deaf, cold, and hypocritical stance. I hope I'm around when he tries to explain that clunker to St. Peter. In the meantime, I'm going to go wash the bitter tears from my face so that I can start the day without taking hostages.

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Blogger Unknown said...

(((hugs))), Diane.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

(that was knuckles)

5:59 AM  
Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

This country's health care system, even under the new-and-improved plan of Obama care, doesn't even come close to dealing with issues like these.

Because it's not profitable. And that guiding principle behind our "health care" remains the same with the Affordable Care Act.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

If you ever genuinely love someone, you never stop. It does not end.

You be well. Thank you for these thoughts.

11:12 AM  
Blogger PurpleGirl said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I read about the Robertson remarks on another blog and thought what a louse he is.

I've known several people who had relatives develop Alzheimer's. It is scares me because we now have so many people who are single, never marrieds and they do not have a support system.

I hope you stay well for a long time.

1:57 PM  
Blogger John Gardner said...

"...a kind of death.."

You are right, that is insane. Yet another case where people are starting to redefine words to mean what they want, instead of living with the consequences of their actions.

On the birth of our second child today, it saddens me that grandpa never got to meet either of our children. You'll be happy to know he came out with lots of hair this morning! :D

8:03 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

John, congratulations to you and your wonderful wife! May this son bring you as much joy as the first.

This news is the best finish to an otherwise dreadful day.

Folks, John is my nephew. I hope he continues to drop by this joint.

12:01 AM  
Blogger John Gardner said...

mostly trolling, but yes, i'll be dropping by :D

12:35 PM  

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