Sunday, September 27, 2009

show must go on

Garrison Keillor was back on the radio last night, not long after checking himself into the hospital following what was reported as a small stroke. He talked it: about a guy who'd lost years of memory and his ability to carry a tune, after a stroke; and about autumn as a time to think about mortality; and about his gratitude for the good and competent people who staff our hospitals and keep us ticking.

And he's written about it:

And that is a gift to the man who has been struck by a stroke: our common humanity. It's powerful in a hospital. Instead of a nice linen jacket and cool jeans and black T, you are shuffling around in a shabby cotton gown like Granma in "Grapes of Wrath," and you pee into a plastic container under the supervision of a young woman who makes sure you don't get dizzy and bang your noggin.

Two weeks ago, you were waltzing around feeling young and attractive, and now you are the object of Get Well cards and recipient of bouquets of carnations. Rich or poor, young or old, we all face the injustice of life — it ends too soon, and statistical probability is no comfort. We are all in the same boat, you and me and ex-Governor Palin and Congressman Joe Wilson, and wealth and social status do not prevail against disease and injury. And now we must reform our health insurance system so that it reflects our common humanity. It is not decent that people avoid seeking help for want of insurance. It is not decent that people go broke trying to get well. You know it and I know it. Time to fix it.

Mr. Keillor is one guy who knows what he'd do with his 24-hour death sentence. He'd do another show.

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