Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"Irony" Lung

This is the definition of irony as much as the man who murdered his parents asking for mercy because he was an orphan:
A woman who defied medical odds and spent nearly 60 years in an iron lung after being diagnosed with polio as a child died Wednesday after a power failure shut down the machine that kept her breathing, her family said.
Holy shit! She survives polio and then six decades in an iron lung (she couldn't use more modern technology because of a spinal deformity) -- including, I'm quite certain, multiple bouts of pneumonia and other life-threatening illnesses related to her disability -- only to perish because the POWER FAILED (and they couldn't get the backup generator online.)

Now that's "ironic."


At Fri May 30, 07:31:00 PM, Blogger rlbates said...

Certainly is.

At Fri May 30, 09:41:00 PM, Blogger Doc said...

This story has almost as much to be celebrated as it has tragedy. She was likely one of only a few remaining iron lung confined patients in the US--and to go for sixty years. Amazing!
Other articles on this suggested that she had been in declining health previously, and this contributed to her being unable to hang on through the outage.
It sounds as if she was quite an inspirational individual. I wonder what she would have told the vaccine-refusing parents.

At Fri May 30, 09:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh that's just wrong.

At Fri May 30, 11:39:00 PM, Blogger Dreaming again said...

It is frightening. Nothing short of frightening.

At Sat May 31, 03:54:00 AM, Blogger Elaine said...

Not ironic at all. I can (almost) imagine the poor lady's increasing fear, nay terror, and discomfort after the power went down.

At Sat May 31, 08:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A link to yesterday's post might have been a propos, no?

People have forgotten the horrors associated with not vaccinating their children.

At Sat May 31, 09:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a shame that her family didn't think to have their own, working generator available. It wouldn't have taken much, a couple of hundred bucks at Costco or Sams and they'd have enough power to run the iron lung.....

I wonder if they smoked, or drank beer, or had cable TV or cell phones.

Suffocation is a terrible way to die.

At Sat May 31, 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Ian Furst said...

What a way to die -- agreed this should be posted next to antivaccination articles.

At Sat May 31, 12:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read about this in the newspaper about 30 minutes after I posted my comment yesterday about the iron lung in a museum. Weird. I had no idea they were still in use. I don't understand the logistics tho - how are bedsores prevented over 60 years? Poor woman...I'm sure she would have accepted a vaccine!

At Sat May 31, 02:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fidel, MD said "What a shame that her family didn't think to have their own, working generator available."

Actually, according to this article: ... They had both an emergency generator ...
"Family members were unable to get an emergency generator working after a power failure "

It may have been a case of not maintaining the emergency generator.

At Sun Jun 01, 07:41:00 PM, Blogger Dreaming again said...

Fidel MD, not all families who are in situations like this smoke, drink beer or waste their money uselessly.
Yes, we have satellite ...but it is a gift from my sister because we don't get out much because of our health issues and my husband, because of polio, and his 45 day stay in the hospital last year, no longer drives or can go anywhere on his own.
Yes, we have computer access's all of $10 a month and is a vital part of our medical care costs far less than any of our prescriptions do ... and our medical costs would wind up being far more costly without it.
The library? It would take the ability to get there when we are sick to do so, and the library limits you to 60 minutes a day. (not all do, but our library system does, not to mention, it's not open all the time)
Our computer was a gift to us from Habitat for Humanity ... when we worked very hard to get a house that we pay the mortgage on (Habitat does NOT GIVE houses away by the way, that is a drastic misconception ...people do 500 hours of sweat equity, the pay a 30 year mortgage)

There is no $200 or $300 extra in our budget for a generator ... and there are thousands like us. Yes, there are thousands who do waste their money on beer, cigerette's and get the highest cable or satellite and internet connection (we have the slowest conection speed and only 40 channels)

But, there are more people like us than you realize, who are being sensible ..and who are raising their kids to be sensible. To assume that they are otherwise is unfair and unfeeling. If the person is living in an iron lung, chances are, their lives are so full of stress .. caregiving is an incredible stress and it takes more out of one's spirit than the finacial burden ... it takes the heart and sould down to it's very core of character. The idea of a generator may not have occured to them or they simply may not have had the $200 or $300 ..if their income is a typical medicare eligible patient, then they are likely to be under $20,000 a year, do the math.

If they only had one caregiver? Who was supposed to go get the generator? A caregiver gets tired of asking for help, and gets tired quickly ...and after 60 years? I imagine ...they were extremely worn of asking for help.

My husband is on a bipap and oxygen for his respiratory problems of post polio. Everytime the power goes out, my heart sinks. (it did again last night)
I've been asked by several why the oxygen supply company doesn't supply the generator. Why? Don't know. Because thousands need one?

There are many things that go into situations like this Fidel MD ... I'm just thinking about the care givers fatigue that they had and the callousness of your comment is mind blowing.

At Sun Jun 01, 09:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, they were a very loving and attentive family. Her father kept her alive during an ice storm several years ago, operating the bellows on the machine. The paper here says the family called each other and several of them performed CPR, however it didn't say if they ever called 911. It sounded like from the article she had begun to fail a week or two before, which may be why working the bellows and the CPR was not helpful.

At Mon Jun 02, 01:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous said "operating the bellows on the machine."

One article I saw said they tried working that hand pumped bellows, but I did not include in my comment because it was not on the article I had at hand. Actually, I was thinking I had imagined reading it. Thanks for confirming I'm not going too nuts, yet.

There is the possibility that even just a bit of a failure would have done her in because of her weakened state.

Still, it is remarkable she lived so long in a long metal tube. Let us hope that history does not repeat itself.

At Wed Jun 04, 08:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is tragic and I am sure her family is devastated, but that isn't really an example of irony. Most things held up as ironic aren't.


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