Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting a Lobotomy - Pros and Cons

I was watching the cat one night, after a stressful and aggravating day in the office, and thinking, what a life. No worries. No stress. What’s the worst thing that can happen to an indoor cat in a day? And then, another thought: I could live that life. Maybe I should get a lobotomy.

Getting a lobotomy is a major life change. And, as far as I am aware, it’s irreversible. So before running out and taking the plunge, you want to spend a few minutes thinking this through. I thought a list of pros and cons might help focus my reasoning. Here’s what I came up with:

Consideration #1 – Cost of the Procedure

First, there is the cost of the lobotomy itself. No idea what the going rate is these days. The main question would be, is this covered by my HMO plan? If so, it would probably just cost me a hundred bucks or so – whatever the co-pay is on brain surgery. I’d probably need some kind of referral. I guess I would start with my primary care physician, see if she has the authority to say, yes, you do need a lobotomy, here’s a prescription, call specialist so-and-so, etc. It’s probably negotiable like a lot of things with the doctor. C’mon doc, I’m telling you, I really need this procedure. Remember last year when you wrote me a prescription for a whole six months of Claritin? That wasn’t totally kosher either. Can’t you just work with me here? If doc says no, or if it turns out that a lobotomy is not something covered by my plan, I assume it would be financially out of reach for me in this country. I don’t know anyone who’s had to pay for his own brain surgery out-of-pocket, but I’m sure it would run you six figures. I could probably get it done in Mexico. When I lived in San Diego and took a day trip down to Tijuana, it didn’t look like there was much of anything you couldn’t have done there. The guy that sells horse tranquilizers might be able to do a lobotomy, or, if not, I’m sure he would know someone that could. So figure airfare to San Diego, rental car, few nights in a hotel after, incidentals. I bet I could work it so that the whole thing would come in at under two grand.

Consideration #2 – Longer-Term Financial Impact

Then there’s the longer-term calculation of life earnings. Sadly, I have no trust fund or annuity to draw on. So, my income for the rest of my life will be based on what I can earn the old-fashioned way – by working. I had great support from my parents growing up. They paid for college. I don’t have too much law school debt left. And, working at a large law firm, I’ve made it up to one of the pretty high echelons of earning potential. That would probably change if I got a lobotomy. I think people with lobotomies are still employable, but mostly for a different kind of work. Less mental / intellectual kind of stuff. More task oriented. Repetitive is probably good. I could probably get a job in the fast food industry. Not management, or register. Maybe fries? Restocking cups? Or maybe something sweatshop-like. Making sure each Nike shoe has a swoosh on it? I’m sure there would be opportunities out there. Pay would probably be less though. So I’d probably have to eat out less, maybe cancel my subscription to The Atlantic.

Consideration #3 – Social Interactions; Marriage

I’ve got a really nice circle of friends and a terrific wife. I’m at ease around them. They like me for who I am. I don’t think any of them would purposefully look down on a person who had a portion of his brain disconnected, but you just never know until it happens. It would probably be different hanging out with me before and after. Now, when I go out with friends, we talk about books and politics and all kinds of college-grad stuff. If I had a lobotomy, I’d probably just want to talk about what I had for lunch, or about restocking cups. I’d probably be OK with still hanging out with my same friends, even if I couldn’t quite understand all of what they were talking about. But I wonder if they would get bored of me. All the same considerations would apply equally to my wife. I don’t know for sure if, when she said “through sickness and health,” she meant for that to include elective surgery that turns you into sort of a zombie. And, in addition to having to live with a pretty different person than she first bargained for, she might be mad about having to sell the house and cancel all her magazine subscriptions. I’d probably be bad at remembering to feed the cats too.

Consideration #4 – Hobbies; Transportation

When I’m not working, there are lots of luxurious, first-world kinds of things I like to do to keep busy. Reading, running, biking, going out to see music, goofing around on-line. These indulgences keep me feeling human, interested in the world. I even like to just drive around in my car. I could probably find new hobbies if I got a lobotomy. I’d need to learn more about what kinds of things people with lobotomies are generally into. Would I forget everything I had read? Could I keep reading my favorite book over and over again? Would it still be my favorite book? Could I drive? Is there a limit in my On-Star contract to the number of times I can ask for directions?


I should probably sleep on this for another few nights. The whole thing sounds a little scary. On the other hand, if I got a lobotomy, I might not be able to experience fear anymore, or anything else. So if my wife and friends left me, the bank foreclosed on my house and I had to spend the rest of my days sitting alone, with no recollection of any of the things that used to be important to me, I dunno, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. No stress, at least.


jms1 said...

Hey Dan - Please sleep on it a few more nights. Great musings though - very enjoyable to read. Cheers- john

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

you have officially the biggest creep i have ever heard of. you do know that it's a highly fatal procedure to undergo even with all the technology and advances we have today. just take some meds!

Anonymous said...

Very nice read! I am bipolar 1. I was diagnosed 27 years ago and am now 42. I was a software engineer for 20 years but for nearly the past four years I have been on disability. I am seriously looking into getting this procedure. They call it a lobectomy now. Probably so they can charge more for sticking an ice pick up your nose a wiggling it around :)