When Time Slips Away

This is been quite the national news week. Ebola has dominated the headlines, and as the media ramps up the hysteria, the stories get more and more strange.

The strangest one for me is about Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the physician who took an NBC film crew to Liberia to cover the Ebola story. She’s the network’s chief medical correspondent. When her cameraman tested positive for Ebola, she and the rest of her crew were told to stay quarantined. Apparently, time just slipped away for Nancy…and she had a momentary lapse of judgement. So, what does she do? She decides to make a soup run. That’s right. She drives herself to a local restaurant in order to pick up some soup for herself. I’m just guessing here, but it must be one hell of a restaurant, and I’d love to know what kind of soup that was…and if they’d share the recipe.  Assuming they’re still open for business, that is.

Next was the coroner’s report on the death of Joan Rivers. She’d gone in for a routine outpatient procedure, an endoscopy on her throat to learn what might be causing her raspy voice. It seems time just slipped away from her doctor that day…he took selfies with Joan while she was knocked out under anesthesia, and just before she went into cardiac arrest. The coroner’s office has ruled her death ‘the result of a predictable complication’. I’m just guessing here, but I’d say there’ll be a massive lawsuit coming soon, which will now put the spotlight on all surgeons as each one of us who’ve been under anesthesia will now wonder what the hell goes on in our presence which just happens to be simultaneously in our absence. A very horrifying thought.

And then there’s the cover of People Magazine this week. Brittany Maynard is just twenty-nine years old and has terminal brain cancer. A newlywed when she was diagnosed just months ago, she and her groom have moved from California (along with her parents) to the state of Oregon which passed the Death With Dignity Act in 1997. She has chosen to leave this earth on her own terms, and in Oregon she has the legal right to do so. With prescribed drugs, she will be able to pass peacefully at the time of her choosing, rather than endure the horrific death that brain cancer would otherwise force upon her. As she watches her time slip away, she has become focused on the love of her friends and family, strength and inner peace. Every state in the union needs to get this law passed. If you disagree, push for it anyhow. You can choose your own death of suffering and pain…that’s your right as well.

BUT…the story that has really stayed with me this week is the one about Glenn Campbell. You know, the guy who hit big time with songs like Rhinestone Cowboy, Wichita Lineman, Gentle On My Mind, By The Time I Get to Phoenix, and Galveston…there’s a whole host of ‘em. If you have no idea who I’m talking about, well, you’re just a few decades too young (but if you head over to iTunes, you can take a listen). He’s won nine Grammy awards, the most recent in 2012 when he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

So, what’s news with him? He’s in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, yet has just released his final song video. It’s a ballad that was written for his wife. As Glenn Campbell’s time quickly slips away, he is cognizant enough to leave one last message.   It’s both a heartbreaking and tender act of lasting love, of self-awareness, of inner strength and of incredible dignity.  It’s titled ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’. For Glenn, that’s the blessing and the ‘only thing that selfishly remains’…because Alzheimer’s is a disease of stolen memories.  He can’t miss what he can’t remember…that’s the silver lining that Glenn has found.

Let’s hope the news next week is less memorable.