A recent op-ed piece by a leader of the United Methodist Church, published in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, urged West Virginia’s U. S. Senators to save Medicaid so that federal funds can continue to help break the grip of the opioid epidemic.
This thoughtful article offers the theological hook–the parable of The Good Samaritan–on which to hang a political imperative to increase access to federal funds for substance abusers to receive care.
Although the story of The Good Samaritan is a good story, another parable–the Prodigal Son–is, in my opinion, more instructional and worthy of being taken into consideration for addressing the current drug problem.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, a young man leaves home and squanders his portion of his inheritance by living a less-than- desirable lifestyle. He eventually finds himself broke, hungry, neglected and living in a pigsty. It is here that he “comes to his senses” and makes a decision to go back home. He then starts walking. As he approaches home, the young man’s father runs down the road to meet his son and hugs him in a welcoming embrace.
The story of The Prodigal Son does not tell us why the young man left home and what motivated him to take a walk on the wild side (I’m sure he had his reasons). The story also does not tell us whether the father knew his son was grubbing around in a pigsty far from home (I think he did, but chose to stay home). But, one thing we know for sure–the squanderer got out of the muck by coming to his senses and beginning the long walk back. His father did not rescue him nor did anyone help him on the way back. The young man made a choice to change and then acted on that choice.
Many substance abusers probably relate more to the young man in the Prodigal Son than to the man beaten by robbers in the Good Samaritan–while one made bad choices, the other had no choice. Many mental health care providers probably relate to the remedy for the young man in the sty more than the care provided to the man found beaten and lying in a ditch. We can pull addicts out of the ditch and take them to a healthy place to recuperate, but they will not walk the road of recovery unless, or until, they make a choice to walk that walk.
Urging senators to allocate more federal funds for treatment through Medicaid presupposes that present Medicaid treatment merits our continued support. That supposition is not supported by what we are finding on the streets. I have a sick feeling Medicaid funds are now, in effect, being used to make cleaner pigsties or to rescue addicts who have not, on their own, “come to their senses.”
We, as a community, cannot beg or bribe addicts with Medicaid treatment to choose a new and better way. Substance abusers have to make that choice to be someone new on their own, and then start living into that new-ness. When they do we, as a community, will celebrate by joyously feasting with them.
[Editor’s Note: Upon receipt of the following article, I had a number of reservations about publishing it. So, I did my own research and quickly learned that the statistics in this piece are readily available with little research through Google and other political, informational resources. I am giving D. J. Salisbury credit for putting this information (in this form) with the opening and closing quotations on Facebook; however, the original article appears to have first appeared in Daily Kos. Be that as it may, the statistics are in the public record and the public domain.]
“I made a comment recently in which I claimed that Republican administrations had been much more criminally corrupt over the last 50+ years than the Democrats. I was challenged (dared, actually) to prove it. So, I did a bit of research. And when I say ‘a bit’ I mean it didn’t take long. There is no comparison. When comparing criminal indictments of those serving in the executive branch of presidential administrations, it’s so lopsided as to be ridiculous. Yet all I ever hear is how corrupt the Democrats are. So why don’t we break it down by president and show the numbers?
BARACK OBAMA - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE. ZERO (0) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, ZERO (0) CONVICTIONS AND ZERO (0) PRISON SENTENCES. So the next time somebody describes the Obama administration as “scandal free” they aren’t speaking wishfully, they’re simply telling the truth.
GEORGE W. BUSH - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE, SIXTEEN (16) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, SIXTEEN (16) CONVICTIONS, NINE (9) PRISON SENTENCES.
BILL CLINTON - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE, TWO (2) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, ONE (1) CONVICTION, ONE (1) PRISON SENTENCE. That’s right nearly eight (8) years of investigations, tens of millions spent and thirty (30) years of claiming the Clintons are the most corrupt ever, and there was exactly one person convicted of a crime. Wishing for guilt doesn’t make it true.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH - 4 YEARS IN OFFICE, ONE (1) INDICTMENT, ONE (1) CONVICTION, ONE (1) PRISON SENTENCE.
RONALD REAGAN - 8 YEARS IN OFFICE, TWENTY-SIX (26) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, SIXTEEN (16) CONVICTIONS, EIGHT (8) PRISON SENTENCES.
JIMMY CARTER - 4 YEARS IN OFFICE, ONE (1) INDICTMENT, ZERO (0) CONVICTIONS AND ZERO (0) PRISON SENTENCES.
GERALD FORD - 2-1/2 YEARS IN OFFICE, ONE (1) INDICTMENT, ONE (1) CONVICTION AND ONE (1) PRISON SENTENCE.
RICHARD NIXON - 6 YEARS IN OFFICE, SEVENTY-SIX (76) CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS, FIFTY-FIVE (55) CONVICTIONS, FIFTEEN (15) PRISON SENTENCES.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON - 5 YEARS IN OFFICE, ZERO (0) INDICTMENTS, ZERO (0) CONVICTIONS, ZERO (0) PRISON SENTENCES.
So, let’s see where that leaves us. In the last fifty-three (53) years, Democrats have held the presidency for twenty-five (25), while Republicans held it for twenty-eight (28) [years]. In their twenty-five (25) years in office Democratic presidents had a total of three (3) executive branch officials indicted with one (1) conviction and one (1) prison sentence. That’s one whole executive branch official convicted of a crime in two and a half decades of Democratic leadership. In the twenty-eight (28) years that Republicans have held the presidency, they have had a total of (drum roll would be appropriate) one hundred twenty (120) criminal indictments of executive branch officials…eighty-nine (89) criminal convictions with thirty-four (34) prison sentences handed down. For the Republicans, that’s more prison sentences than presidential years in office since 1968, if you include articles of impeachment as indictments (they aren’t really, but we can count them as an action) both sides get one more. However, Clinton wasn’t found guilty while Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Ford. So those serve only to make Republicans look even worse.
With the Trump spectacle growing more bizarre by the day, it’s a safe bet that Republicans are going to be padding those numbers soon. So let’s just go over the numbers one more time, shall we? Republicans: one hundred twenty (120) indictments, eighty-nine (89) convictions, and thirty-four (34) prison sentences in twenty-eight (28) years. Democrats: three (3) indictments, one (1) conviction, and one (1) prison sentence in twenty-five (25) years.
Those aren’t ‘feelings’ or ‘alternate facts.’ Those are simply the statistics and numbers available [in the] public record.
It appears that the Republicans are, and have been for my entire lifetime, the most criminally corrupt party to hold the office of the presidency.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to be perfect and doing everything perfectly as a caregiver. LOUD BUZZER NOISE. That’s impossible. So just “be light”…You ARE their light!
Last time here, I shared three examples of what I like to call “Alzhumor” – stories to encourage you to laugh a little as you carry out the day-to-day work of being a caregiver. Now, I share three more stories that I hope will bring you a smile.
Alzhumor Coping Strategy No. 4: Lighten Up!”
One fellow advocate of mine, “Natalie,” has a husband with VERY early onset Alzheimer’s — he is in his late 30s. Devastating to hear, right? This family just rolls with it every day. Recently, she had to take him to get some bloodwork and labs done, and they couldn’t get a needle in his arm for anything. This was important for a recent health test. So, she just looked at him and said “You are a giant weirdo, you know that?! Why can’t you just get sick like everybody else?!” With that, she and her husband laughed until they were crying (he’s still alert and aware) and the phlebotomist was mortified. Natalie just turned to her and said “Honey, you gotta lighten up. We just have that dark humor in our family.” Bravo! Don’t ever feel the need to apologize for your humor if people don’t get it.
Alzhumor Coping Strategy No. 5: Don’t Let ‘em Manipulate You…’Cause They Will.
Another friend of mine, 23-year-old “Thomas,” lost his mom to early onset Alzheimer’s at 48 years old. He was also one of her caregivers. They had the BEST sense of humor, even before the disease hit. Very dry. One day, he was trying to get her dressed for a family party and she wasn’t cooperating. In a rare impatient moment (he was running late), he finally said “Come on, mom. Please put on your dress so we can go!” Mom, who was still able to dress herself, stated, “I don’t know how to put on my damn dress. I have Alzheimer’s. YOU do it. I can’t remember how.” Convenient for her, right?! What else can you do but laugh? Which Thomas did.
Alzhumor Coping Strategy #6– Expect the Unexpected. There Is No Other Way to Put It.
Then there was that moment when my dad was hospitalized from caregiver exhaustion and burnout after hiding my mom’s new personality traits, and my brothers and I had to take care of her for a few days: worst nightmare. My mom was in dire need of a shower and I finally got her into the bathroom, but she wouldn’t get in without a shower cap. Mind you, her hair was the dirtiest part. I didn’t argue; I just rooted through the cabinet for a shower cap and actually found one. As I turned around to help her put it on, she said “I’m ready, I found it.” Except that she hadn’t. She had found a pair of clean Depends and put them on her head like the Papal crown as she stood there buck naked. My first instinct was to cry, as this was a new frontier for my proper, elegant mom and me. Crying wasn’t what emerged, though. Instead (again), it was laughter. I started laughing, and my mom just laughed right along with me! Are you seeing a pattern here?
Ultimately, our loved ones with Alzheimer’s may not know WHY they love you, or who you actually are, but they somehow know that they love you, even in the oddest of ways. So when times get tough, just remember: keep laughing.
[Maria (Martini) Deneau is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and is the only daughter of four children born to Bernard and Evelyn Martini. She is a graduate of The University of Cincinnati and is currently employed by Kindred Healthcare in Southwest Michigan as a Home Health Specialist (Account Liaison) and has worked in senior healthcare since 2007. Maria serves as a Board Member for Fund Development at Senior Services of Kalamazoo County and also serves as a Networking Board Member for Professionals Focused on Aging in Kalamazoo, MI. She has also been recognized by the state of Ohio Senate for Outstanding Achievement and exemplary service to the community and its youth while living in Cincinnati, Ohio.]