Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2010/ Scenarios 0 - 2

Scenarios 0 - 2

Scenario 0: Diabetes

Eventually -- maybe my mid forties? -- my bad habits and bad genetics catch up to me. Like my mother and both her parents, my pancreas begin to fail and I am diagnosed with diabetes. Unlike them I remain in denial about my diagnosis for a long time. I continue to refrain from exercise and a high-protein, low-carb (read: meat-based) diet. Just as I have done all my life, I continue to eat too many potatoes and too many sweets even when they spike my blood sugar and make me sick. Maybe I take my meds regularly; maybe I am too cheap to pay for medications, and pretend to control my condition via diet. I pretend that I value vegetarianism more than my health.

For a while I fool myself into thinking that I am walking the tightrope. Then my body falls apart. My feet swell and I lose sensations in my limbs, making walking treacherous. Since I do not drive, I either need the access (and money!) for transit, or somebody I know has to deal with the burden of my transportation, or I do without.

Maybe I go blind and am unable to work; if I am lucky society will still be willing to support me with disability payments. Maybe I get an innocent cut on my foot that I don't notice -- a cut which becomes swollen and infected, and results in a long hospital stay, an amputation, or both. Maybe my blood sugar gets too high or too low, and I go into shock. Maybe I suffer a heart attack or a stroke.

As my body fails the scares become more frequent and more expensive. At some point I lose the will to live, or I run out of money, or my body loses its battle despite the expensive medical technology around me. Then I die -- maybe drugged into peace, or maybe in agony.

Scenario 1: Health Crisis

Maybe I suffer a heart attack or a stroke. Maybe the complications of diabetes described in Scenario 0 catch up to me. Maybe I have an accident. There are many ways roads to that last hospital stay.

If I am at home when the crisis hits then I am probably alone. Maybe I suffer for hours or days alone until I die.

If I am in public or other people notice my presence at home, maybe somebody "rescues" me by sending me to the hospital for expensive treatments, long bouts of therapy and impaired functionality. The treatments are likely to be painful and intrusive.

If I am lucky I have enough motivation to live that the struggle and pain is worthwhile; otherwise I endure until I stop enduring.

If I am lucky then there is still enough money for medicare, and the government foots the bill for my bad genetics and bad life choices. Otherwise my rescue drains my savings and bankrupts me. Maybe I have a support circle who rallies around me for the exciting aspects of the crisis; but everybody has lives of their own, and nobody takes on the burden of caring for me indefinitely. I am on my own, as long or as short as that might be.

Scenario 2: Bicycle

I am cycling. No doubt I am once again late to my destination. Probably I feel agitated -- maybe I am upset, maybe I am tired, maybe I am distracted by something else. Probably I am not as mindful of my surroundings as I should be. Maybe I make a rolling stop at a stopsign right into traffic. Maybe I don't notice the opening door of the car parked on the side of the road.

Maybe I have taken some additional risks. I could be cycling at night with dead batteries in my headlights, and a car turns left into me. Maybe I am cycling when it is cold or wet, and I hit a slippery patch. Maybe my brakes are not as effective as they should be, because my rims are wet or my wheel is untrue or I simply have not tuned my bike in a while.

It could even be that I am doing everything right, and somebody else is having a bad day, or is driving while a bit tipsy, or didn't look for traffic before making that turn. In any case I don't have a metal cage to protect me, and I get hit, because I make a defensive mistake or I don't have the skills to avoid the crash. My helmet is useless -- no better than a placebo -- and I fall and hit my head. Or maybe I fall onto my backpack, which fractures my spine. Or maybe I am hit on my side and thrown into a hard surface. If I am lucky the pain is brief and I am dead before the ambulance arrives. Otherwise I am looking at Scenario 1 once again.

Maybe I get up from the crash and think there is nothing wrong until the pains start a few days later. I have to take time off work to recover, and I lose my job as a result. Maybe I am permanently injured, and am thrown into poverty that way.

Maybe I recover partially or fully, and am able to get employment again. My body is never the same, and I have to deal with the consequences of that -- chronic pain, reduced functionality -- in dealing with the next scenario that rears its head in my life.