Monday, April 10, 2006

Boy in the Bubble. I watched the excellent American Experience show on the "Boy in the Bubble" on PBS tonight with my teenager. He had a lot of questions, including "Why did they do this?" "What did the kid think?" and "Did he die?" All of these questions were answered pretty well in the documentary. The mother, Mrs. Vetter (the boy's name was David) answered many questions with great patience and fortitude. Interestingly, the father was not interviewed, nor was he even shown in still photographs. It's possible he died or got divorced and distanced himself from the case. David died when he is 12 (in 1983) after an experimental bone marrow transplant failed. I had some qualms about having my son watch a show about a child suffering and dying, but it gave us a chance to discuss some important issues. My son watched with interest and clearly understood the discussion by the doctors and family about the reasoning behind the "isolation" concept. My mother died in hospice care in 2004 when she was 93 years old. My son did not visit her in her last months, but was very much aware of what was going on, since he knew I was with her in the nursing facility. This gave us a chance to talk about death and the decisions around dying in a more relaxed atmosphere. It is hard to contemplate, but he could one day be called upon to make decisions about my death. If this should happen, I would want him to be as informed as possible about my feelings about these issues. Watching a TV documentary is one way to be presented with a death-and-dying issue. Fortunately, this show was over in an hour. In real life (and death) these incredibly painful situations can drag on for months and years.


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