Stories, Autobiographical, Interesting, Plaut, Asthma,
A lot of seniors are counting on Medicare to help with medical expenses in their old age. But there are rumors that the money will run out. I have thought about this a lot and have come up with a solution.
It is July 1997, and I am attending a medical convention in Chicago, walking through the lobby of the Palmer House on my way to breakfast. I see a man who looks really familiar. I’ve seen him on TV. Yes, it’s Frank. Frank Perdue, the chicken man. I walk over and introduce myself. “I’m Dr. Tom Plaut, and I know that you are Frank Perdue, the chicken man. I have seen you on TV.”
“That’s right,” he says, “I AM Frank Perdue. How are you doing today?” “I’m doing fine, but I’m 63 years old and worried that there won’t be any money left in Medicare by the time I hit 65. That’s why I came over to see you. I know you’re a smart man and I am thinking, maybe you could work on this Medicare problem with me.” Frank is looking serious and listening hard. I can see he is worried about Medicare too and I start to tell him my idea.
“Frank, Medicare spends a lot of money on people right before they die. That is a waste. You invented this pop-out thing that tells when a chicken is done, why can’t we do the same thing for humans? You could put the button in when a person gets their Medicare card. Have it set to pop out exactly six months before that person is going to die; just before they’re done. Once the button pops out, it wouldn’t make any sense to get expensive medical tests, to stay in a hospital or have an operation. When your button pops, you will be dead for sure in six months. So you should enjoy yourself. Don’t waste any time with doctors.
This is the United States of America and it should be voluntary! I agree, and Frank, to get people to sign up for this plan, Medicare should pay people $50,000 as soon as their button pops and they turn in their Medicare card. That will give them some money to enjoy their last months, maybe take a nice vacation or a cruise. Of course they should get pain medicine and hospice care free of charge, but they wouldn’t need any of the expensive stuff.
Frank says he likes my idea but wants to sleep on it. We agree to talk some more at breakfast. The next morning Frank points out that his chicken button is heat sensitive and made of plastic. The one for humans will have to be more durable. Maybe titanium. I say we can design a button that is sensitive to chemicals in the bloodstream that are produced when the heart, liver or kidney are severely damaged.
Frank doesn’t think the button should be put any place conspicuous, like the forehead or the palm of the hand. We divide the work before we finish breakfast. I’ll work on the chemicals; he’ll work on the button. For the next three months I spend all my free time working on the project. I consult medical experts for advice on which chemicals should cause the button to pop. Frank works on the button.
Last night, I turn on the TV and see a somewhat familiar face.
The newsman says, “I am talking to the son of Frank Perdue, the chicken man. Mr. Perdue, please accept my sympathy on your father’s death. Exactly how did he die?”
“Dad died in the service of humanity. He became fatally infected while testing a pop-up button for humans.
Undaunted, I continue to work on the button and am looking for colleagues to join me in this project.”