Sometimes people stop me at conferences or end an e-mail note with "how's your mom?" I've written off and on about her and her medical odyssey for a few years. Well, Mom passed away Feb. 4 after acquiring a rare blood disorder. Doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, one of the world's finest hospitals, have never seen it outside of lymphoma or leukemia patients. It prevented her blood from clotting. They tried like heck to pump activated Factor 7 into her to help the clotting, but at 79 and with other ailments worsening, it didn't work.
Patricia Fuller had struggled through declining health for years, having her good weeks and her bad weeks. Ironically, it was in the last few weeks that she was the most upbeat. She spent them on the oncology floor with patients half her age, in worse condition. "I really do have a lot to be thankful for," she said one evening. She came of age when "dames wuz dames," but through sheer force of will managed to transform the reference to her into the "grahnd dahm."
More than half the staff at EE Times is struggling or has struggled through similarly tough times with parents or siblings. Most of you in the demographic with aging parents are learning more than perhaps you care to about the wonders and frustrations of medical technology. Questions about how to care for the aged are going to intensify in coming years, as Baby Boomers push into their 60s and 70s. The hope of bio- and nanotechnologies is there, but there comes a point where difficult maybe impossible decisions need to be made. Ultimately, none of us outruns the wolf.
But these are questions for another day. For now, we need to celebrate the moments within the moments and each breath we draw, and honor the spirit of those who have gone before us.