Why I Am ‘Still Angry’

By

(For My Coach K)

Leonard Zwelling

         Most people who get to know me over time understand that I
have very strong opinions about everything and that I am basically angry.

         Let’s examine that.

         Anger is a manifestation of dissatisfaction. If “satisfaction
is the absence of the desire” as Stephen Levine defined it, then anger is the
presence of desire. For me, that anger, that desire, is with the basic
unfairness of life and wishing things could be more fair.

         I think it is unfair that people should get ill, yet I
myself have had several serious ailments from coronary artery disease, to major
depression to chronic disc disease. I can’t hear so well either, but that one
may be my own fault. (See blog on Jefferson Airplane).

         I think it unfair that people should be hungry, homeless,
oppressed by dictators and not living in countries like the United States where
at least they have a chance at making a life for themselves and their families.

         I also think it is totally ridiculous that all Americans
cannot have access to quality, affordable health care after I have spent 40
years in the business of trying to make contributions to the care of the sick.

         Finally, I believe that what the current President of the
United States, Supreme Court and the US Congress have done to the Constitution
and the system of government with which our Founding Fathers blessed us is a
travesty. Shame on all of them.

The
President lies knowingly. It was never true that if you “liked the health
insurance you had, you could keep it.” He also has no idea what to do in
foreign affairs and so sits paralyzed doing nothing as Iran looms, Russia rolls
and ISIS kills, even in Paris, Copenhagen and Ottawa. What will it take for this guy to man
up?

The
Congressional leadership is anything but. I have seen Mitch McConnell and his
ilk close-up. They are an embarrassment to their constituents. They are just
lucky that honest, smart people stay out of politics giving them the free ride
into office.

The
Supreme Court’s right wing is a travesty of justice making corporations people
and undermining what little good might have come out of the ACA by sinking
Medicaid expansion before it even started.

Shame
on all of them.

Corporate
America is no better as greed overwhelms all other motivations and justifies
any behavior from predatory lending to insider trading.

And
American academic medicine has basically turned over the keys to the crooks as
everyone has a company or is on the take from one and their response to conflict-of-interest accusations is “trust
me” we can “manage” this; would I lie to you just to fatten my wallet? Of course, you would!

Am
I dissatisfied? Am I angry? I would be crazy if I wasn’t.

On
Valentine’s Day the BW and I saw ‘Still Alice.’ This film stars Julianne Moore
as a college professor who develops early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and
vanishes before the eyes of her family and herself. It is a tragedy on one hand
and a triumph on the other for it shows what a life really is by the loss of
its defining components and memories and in that provides acute awareness of
the transitory nature of our lives and the importance of pleasure, engagement
and meaning in our relationships. That’s called fun.

The
events of last week surrounding the “resignation” of Dr. Kleinerman have
brought my anger to the surface more than usual (not that it is ever far away).
They were not fun.

I
am not angry that she is no longer Head of Pediatrics although I do believe it
is a major loss for MD Anderson and for pediatric oncology in general for she
was one of the few people in this country who, as the great J Freireich has
said, “developed a treatment.” MTP really does make a difference in the
survival of young people with osteosarcoma and why is quite well understood as
described first by Josh Fidler. It activates pulmonary macrophages that eat the
micrometastases that can expand and kill these people.

I
have met Coach K’s patients who have survived, gotten married, had kids and
gone on to careers, even in oncology. MTP’s activity is real despite the idiots
at the FDA denying it. All of Western Europe, South America, Mexico and Israel
have figured it out and approve and pay for MTP’s use. Only a moron would
allow politics or money to interfere with the work of someone this capable, but
that’s our Ron.  

         The point is that Genie loved being the Head of Pediatrics.
I love the fact that we can play more golf together now and that’s fun, too,
but her work is far more important than that. Like Alice’s Alzheimer’s Disease,
the action of the DePinho administration and the cowardly President who didn’t
even have the courtesy of firing Genie himself, make me very angry.

         But in the film, before Alice’s senility sets in deeply she
leaves herself a message on her computer on how to commit suicide by taking
pills. I will say no more about it, but it brought home the relationship she
tried to keep with herself as herself faded away. She preserved the contract to
live her life, her way until she could no longer.

         That didn’t make me angry at all.  It made me grateful for what I have already
had in my life for I have never been hungry or homeless and have always been an
American. In that there is no anger.

         In the beginning of Annie Hall, Woody Allen says to the camera:

“There’s an old joke – um… two
elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says,
“Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says,
“Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how
I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and
unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important
joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it
appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the
Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would
never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.”

         That’s my life, too. And I am damned
glad and damned angry that it is.

         And I am sure not going to let the
Three Mouseketeers of DePinho, Dmitrovsky and Buchholz ruin that life. I am
still me. I am still angry. And they are still mean, little men if they are men
at all, for they demonstrated such a complete lack of testosterone last week,
that I would get the endocrinologists to test them for Low T.

         It could be anatomical in origin.

Leonard Zwelling