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Choices

During the drive in to get the catheter out, we talked about the near miraculous results of the robotic surgical procedure. We wondered why anyone would submit to open abdominal surgery at all? I suppose at one level, you have a large entrenched base of surgeons used to doing this procedure a certain way. To change that requires not only additional training but frequent access to a robotic system that must be insanely expensive and in high demand. It also struck me that robots are very good at doing precise things in predictable environments . How the system would work with someone who was, say, morbidly obese or had had previous surgery that left scarring inside, is beyond me.

While we were waiting in the doctor's office, almost on cue, a really overweight man arrived for an appointment. He must have been somewhere north of 350 lbs and I'm guessing in his late 60's. A very nice guy with a good sense of humor, he was nonetheless, in terrible physical distress. His breathing was labored, he walked with great effort, his diet was a mess - He talked with his family almost constantly about food - calzone last night, leftover hamburger the night before. His presence in the urologist's office meant something was going wrong around his urinary tract. He was, in a way, walking confirmation our earlier discussion. I doubt a robot could operate on him. I would wonder if he would survive traditional surgery at all. His heart must be on the edge as it is.

I continued to think about him on the way home. It's easy and to pick on the overweight in America. This gentleman lived too long and interesting a life to deserve that from a pampered, bleeding heart liberal like me. I was sorry for him because if he did have cancer, his weight was going to limit his treatment options, and if he was there for some non-cancer related urinary problems, there was a good chance his weight contributed to the condition.

I was also wondering how he get to this place? How do any of us? Maybe his weight just got away from him years ago. I doubt he sat down one day and decided to stop exercising and spend the remainder of his days overeating. It got me thinking of my credit card debt. It just got away from me years ago too. I didn't decide to end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to a bunch of banks. It just sort of happened over the years. We had to burn a huge amount of equity in our house to clean up a credit mess largely of my own making. Health, financial well being, we are poster children of human frailty and I'm no better than he is because I'm healthier.

So how should we live our lives? I have a second chance now. The man in the doctor's office probably won't be as lucky. I hope I'm wrong. What should I do different? I know, don't use credit to buy crap you don't need. I get that. I don't think it's that simple. I think I need to stop thinking I deserve the things I want. I could justify every charge I made over the years (except the $70 toilet paper holder. That was stupid). We have so much. What more do we really need?

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