By: Jillian Keenan
The New York Times
April 25, 2013
There’s no good time to find out you have a brain tumor, but I think my father has a solid claim on the worst luck ever in this regard.
When he got the bad news, I was camping. Not just camping, actually — I was sleeping in a tent in southern Ethiopia, days away from the nearest phone signal or Internet connection. I would have been more in touch if I had been on the moon. By the time I finally returned to Addis Ababa and checked my e-mail, the operation was already over. He’d gone through the ordeal alone.
Although he survived the surgery, the lingering cognitive side effects were severe. He couldn’t recognize me, let alone answer questions about things like his health insurance policy, and doctors didn’t know if the condition would ever improve. I’d never felt like a grown-up before, but suddenly I was dropped into adulthood. At 24, I didn’t yet have my own health insurance policy, retirement account or house. I could barely take care of myself, let alone take care of someone else.
To put it in millennial slang: I was a hot mess.
As anyone who has cared for a sick parent knows, there is a huge amount of medical, logistical and financial information to figure out. But it can be especially overwhelming for young adults, who have little (if any) experience managing complicated finances, dealing with insurance companies and making major logistical decisions.