This patient’s regrets were much deeper than money

You wouldn’t have known it by looking, but Viktor had once been on several modestly successful television shows. He lived for acting. It brought him joy and purpose. So much so that it was the first thing he mentioned to any who happen to pass through his single room next to the nursing station. Viktor was almost famous, definitely broke. His little space in the nursing home was paid for by Medicaid. His poor saving habits and devastating medical issues had drained him of what little he had.

He was king of an increasingly small kingdom.

Health failing

The body decayed but not Viktor’s dreams. Even as the heart failure had stolen his energy and grasped away his breath, he had every intention of returning to the small screen. He gathered his phone book on his oversized belly, and pawed at his mobile phone.

There was always another script floating somewhere enmeshed in his bed. Whether in the hospital or back at the nursing facility, the scripts always followed. Even when his glasses disappeared, his dentures were misplaced, and his hearing aids went missing.

His agent would call every Friday afternoon. I suspect more out of pity than any real job opportunities. Heck, Viktor couldn’t even get out of bed. But no one had the heart to crush his dreams of returning to the life he had left behind.

So the scripts kept coming.

Almost famous, definitely broke. A role he never planned on playing.

Bank accounts empty

Viktor was too busy to pay attention to money when in good health. He was always at the end of one project and searching for the beginning of another. You might recognize him if you had seen him in his younger years. You might have placed him as a secondary character in one of your favorite sitcoms.

Recognizability, however, didn’t translate into wealth. He was almost famous, definitely broke. He never made it big. And even if Viktor had, he wouldn’t have known how to manage the money.

Any small amount of reserves were sucked up quickly by the first few hospitalizations. The life of an actor is not altogether healthy, and eventually, heart failure made his passion untenable.

Medicaid became the only viable option. Viktor needed far more care than would be available at home. He needed to move into an institution. An institution that was only available if subsidized by the government.

It wasn’t the nicest facility. But it would do till Viktor was able to rehab enough to get the next acting gig. Success was just around the corner.

Reality sets in

Eventually, Viktor stopped talking about acting. His last paid role was more than five years ago. Since then his weight had ballooned, his legs swollen, and he rarely left the bed or the wheelchair now. The light behind his eyes had gone dull.

It wasn’t being stuck in a Medicaid facility, being broke, or even his failing health that caused his current malaise. It was letting go of a dream. Realizing that his last role wouldn’t be on the small screen or big screen.

It would be locked away in a nursing facility. Almost famous, definitely broke. Alone.


Why does Viktor come to mind so often as I write this blog? Because to him, the money never mattered. He didn’t care that he was broke. Or that he lived in a Medicaid facility.

His regrets were much deeper than money. He wanted to act again. To stand up and deliver. To build a character for the small screen just one more time again.

And sadly, that was no longer possible.

“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.

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