Paintings from Sunset Series by Spence Munsinger, Color Field + Blank White Canvas + Realism + Contemporary Abstract Art, original paintings for sale

"Every good painter paints what he is."
― Jackson Pollock

Canon Rangefinder (1956)

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still angry after all of these years

I was speaking with my father about my brother’s death (dead in a moment of a blood clot), and my daughter’s passing, and end-of-life care.

I’m old enough to be for certain past the halfway point of a normal life span. My father is 83. Both us have considered what we want, what we don’t want in that last eventual and inevitable slide into final darkness. I brought up my daughter’s last days.

My daughter died with a re-sected colon and a colostomy bag. I was across the country from her and the immediate crucial decision making process. She’d been ill with leukemia for a year. It had migrated into her brain. There really was no hope at that point to save her. I spoke with the doctor in charge of her care and he kept deflecting, telling me how lucky he was to have determined the Bell’s Palsy wasn’t true Bell’s Palsy, rather a manifestation of the disease spreading into the central nervous system. He thought that he did well, or at least he portrayed that to me.

What actually occurred is she discovered she had leukemia, was admitted for emergency treatment to Torrance Hospital, got the first dose of chemo and crashed, unable to breathe, and from that into systemic failure and kidney failure, and after surviving 42 days in a coma, she could be woken and transferred from Torrance Hospital to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank.

She was transferred from emergency care at a hospital that was stuck with her because she fell far too ill to leave. She was so lucky to have landed there – they saved her life, over and over. Once she could be stabilized, she had to leave. This was before Obamacare, before she could have stayed on my insurance, and before she had found her own. This is when insurance companies could write in hidden caps on total allowable benefits, which we would have hit in that first 42 days. She was Medi-Cal, California last resort insurance. This was 1.8 million dollars worth of Medi-Cal, at the final billing.

From Torrance she was transferred to a new cancer wing at Saint Josephs, a hospital that would take her with Medi-Cal. Somewhere as her treatment went on, St. Josephs’s failed to continue to verify the absence of leukemia traces in her spinal fluid. Something in the records or the doctor’s communications from Torrance came over suggesting that wasn’t necessary. Except that leukemia is famous for diving out of sight. And it was necessary. I’ve got this painfully earnest doctor trying to tell me how he contributed to keeping her alive, when actually, he did not.

It was a painful, bitter odyssey.

But this really wasn’t to be about that. This is just context.

This is about painful debilitating surgery done without any hope of saving the patient, using a terminally ill patient as a training device for surgeons. In the last six weeks of her life my daughter had part of her colon removed and re-sected, and a colostomy bag and waste relief site installed. This is hard enough surgery when you are fit. For her it was devastating. She had a 20″ incision down her chest and abdomen that could not heal because she was already on chemo and debilitated and simply had no reserves. She was in agony. And the trainee doctors observing her were keeping her as a non-person when they treated her and dealt with her, holding her emotionally at arms’s length. Like because she was dying she was no longer a person, no longer worthy of respect and care. It was truly striking. I nearly decked one surgeon when he came to look at the wound, when he was continuing to cause her pain unnecessarily. Seriously, he acted like he completely did not get the point – and all I was asking was that he actually see the person in that bed in front of him.

This was not surgery needed to prolong or extend her life. It was a convenient patient, too terrified of accepting the end without a doctor stepping up and saying this is really unnecessary – it won’t keep you alive, instead this will make your last days excruciating. Instead she became a useful patient for training surgery. No real downside for the docs and hospital, this girl will die anyway. The actual cutting and re-section is risky, but she’s going to pass anyway. Who cares if she feels a little pain…

I still care. I’m still furious. Doctors are mis-trained for end of life. They feel they need to intervene. They couldn’t say to this beautiful, wonderful 24 year old girl, live the weeks you have left as best you can.

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geometry

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potted plant

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beach postcard

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flower + orange

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