Monday, January 2, 2012

Sarcoma? Hooray!

Once upon a time, not long ago, there lived a woman named Madame Curie (Smart Ass Cripple alias). Madame Curie lived in the United States. The state she lived in was the state of Dysfunction (another Smart Ass Cripple alias).

Madame Curie lived in a modest house with her husband and their adult son, Popeye the Sailor (one last Smart Ass Cripple alias). Popeye the Sailor had what the people who wear white medical coats now call an “intellectual disability.” His parents loved Popeye the Sailor very much and treated him very well, but he didn’t want to live in their house any more, for the same reasons most 27-year-olds don’t want to live in their parents’ house any more.

So Madame Curie set out in search of a small, community-integrated group home where Popeye the Sailor could live with a measure of autonomy and independence. But she soon learned that in the state of Dysfunction, this was a futile quest. She learned that loving her son and treating him well had been a major tactical error on her part. Because in the state of Dysfunction, such community-integrated housing opportunities were as rare as steak tartare and only available to people like Popeye the Sailor if they were being abused or neglected or were homeless or in an “emergency” situation like that!

So Popeye the Sailor was stuck in his parents’ home for who knows how long. He could be there until he was 90 years old, as long as his parents didn’t abuse or neglect him or throw him out in the streets.

But this tale has a happy ending, thanks to the merciful intervention of cancer! That’s right, Madame Curie was diagnosed with sarcoma. With chemotherapy, the doctors said, her chances of survival were 50-50.

Sarcoma? 50-50 chance of survival? Hooooraaay! That’s how a big part of Madame Curie reacted to the news. Because in the state of Dysfuction, people like Popeye the Sailor were also potentially qualified for an “emergency” designation if their parents or guardians were dead or dying.

This was Madame Curie’s lucky break! She reported her cancer diagnosis to the authorities in the state of Dysfunction. It was Madame Curie’s intention to beat the sarcoma and survive, but she didn’t tell the authorities that part. She played up the grim part. She knew that was the game she had to play if she wanted to get what was best for her son in the state of Dysfunction.

Today, thanks to sarcoma, Popeye the Sailor lives in a small group home. He’s relatively happy and free. And Madame Curie is seven-years cancer free. I give them aliases because I don’t want to risk shattering their tranquility. Because who knows, if the authorities in the state of Dysfunction read this and find out Madame Curie is alive and well, they might feel duped. Human Services budgets are tight and getting tighter and they can’t have people using things like cancer as an excuse to scam the system. The authorities may decide they have no choice but to make an example of Popeye the Sailor by extracting him from his community home and involuntarily relocating him back with his parents. And then, if Madame Curie truly loves her son, she’ll have to abuse him.