Writing by

Tania Melnyczuk

#RIPDrSindi

I don't want her to be dead. Of all the deaths this past year, this one hurts the most. She will be so missed. She was so much more than her work. It was how she was with everyone. She was so kind. She was so good. She really was a good person. Many famous people died...

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They take up beds

They take up beds

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash (edited)

“They take up beds. They brought this upon themselves, and infected others. They don’t deserve to get care when resources are limited.”

I used to think like this, but I was reminded that if we start denying people medical care because of poor choices in respect of COVID-19, it’s the start of denying people help if they are smokers, or fat from overeating, or alcoholics, or if they attempt suicide. And this type of thing does actually happen already, just not directly or overtly.

Mel Baggs was asked three times whether they were sure that they were making the right decision, before doctors gave them a feeding tube. The other choice was death. And it wasn’t even a ‘lifestyle choice’ that caused Mel’s chronic illness. Mel titled their second last blog Ballastexistenz, the Nazi word for the ‘useless’ existence of disabled people who ‘use up resources’.

But Mel was living in modern-day America, not in Nazi Germany.

Whenever I complain about the medical and nutritional neglect of my friend in prison, people ask what crime she committed, as though they want to use that as a basis for how much food or pain relief she should be allowed.

I think she should be allowed to live. I don’t think she should be executed slowly, dying from a migraine lasting years, and from sensory overstimulation, leg cramps, extreme constipation, loss of speech and uncontrollable muscle spasms due to a simple mineral deficiency. I think she should not be slipping in and out of consciousness in pain for days before being allowed to go to hospital, while her body fills with fluid. I think she should not have to sleep on the bathroom floor in midwinter after surgery for endometriosis.

So, people who refuse to be vaccinated when they could be, who call COVID-19 a hoax, who refuse to wear a mask when they could wear one, who refuse to keep a distance, and who in every way endanger others, may be exhibiting criminal behaviour; but if we deny them medical care, or move them to the back of the medical queue as a punishment, then who else should we treat like this?

Maybe I’ll reconsider this when it becomes a war. Or is it a war already? If so, I have friends who are enemies, and I don’t want them dead.