I’m 67. I’m getting to the point in my life when my body is telling me that I just can’t do what I did 10 years ago. I wonder what the next 5 years will bring. I’m starting from a place where I had problems a long time ago. I was disposed with Lupus in 1975. I have been on some sort of steroid since then. I was born with a bad heart valve. I have a big up I’d aortic valve. I have arthritis. Not a good basis for long life, or at least an active life. I have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I have cataracts caused by some of the medications I took in the past. Because if Lupus, my kidneys have been damaged and operate at about 80 percent.
Now about life. I am wondering when I will get to the point that the quality of life will have diminished to the point I just decide that I don’t want to live this way? That will be a difficult decision as there are a lot of variables.
One thing I see that could hasten that is I live alone. Loneliness causes depression. Depression can make a person want to die. I deal with depression right now and have been reluctant to even consider ending my life.
Diabetes is hard for me. I’m not doing insulin yet but as my lab numbers indicate that might not be that far away. The complications from being diabetic can also kill you. You run a higher risk of stroke ( I have a family history of strokes). Will this be my fate?
As for the Lupus, I’ve been lucky so far. After a few major life threatening episodes I’m still here. I have died and cane back and have experienced the “other side”. That was a life changing moment. Being the unpredictable disease it is I can never say it won’t try to kill me again.
Probably I will be okay but at some point I will be faced with a decision… is life worth living or not?
Death is not the mystery to me as it is to most people. I have seen my parents die. In the case if my father it was a quick process as his brain wasted away. He died of sporadic Kreutzfeld Jacob disease. He started having memory problems that progressed to motor skills then he started to lose autonomic functions such as heart rhyme and breathing. I realized the end was near when he lost the ability to swallow. His passing was quiet and as best as could be done painless.
My mother was a decade long process. First there was cancer, then more cancer. As time passed dementia complicated life. I lived for her, being her constant companion, dealing with every aspect of irrational behavior that arose. It was draining. Maybe I should have walked away but as a son I sacrificed my life for her. The last year was one medical emergency after another. She had the will to live but her body was failing. I was somewhat relieved to see her accept that it was time to prepare to die. She had broken her hip and survived the surgery however she found the physical therapy too hard. She told me one day that she was giving up the fight. There was a moment where we had some meaningful conveersation and she had but one request. She did not want to die in a hospital.
I made arrangements for home hospice and dedicated the next months to making her request work. It was hard as the cancer saw a weakness and complications started to manifest themselves. She became stoic. She did not eat, she did not speak, she never left the bed. I learned to cloth and bathe her, to change the diapers, to administer the morphine sulfate. She was in a lot of pain. Death didn’t come easy. One afternoon she suffered a massive stroke.. I was there holding her as the stroke destroyed her brain. I called the hospice nurse and they responded in minutes. There were only hours left. She was breathing, her eyes were open but she was not there. The physical body was fighting for life but death was inevitable. I made her as comfortable as possible with morphine and oxygen and stayed by her bedside. I was fighting exhaustion myself but allowed myself only cat naps all the while holding her hand. She passed sometime as I sat next to her. The first clue was she grew cold. Then the breathing stopped. She was gone. Her death was not peaceful. While I did not take any extraordinary measures to prolong life I did want her to pass without much pain. I called the hospice nurse and she and a doctor pronounced the death as official and I called the mortuary. Within a hour she was transported and I faced the reality of being alone. The grieving process for my dad was a shared process but with my mom it was something I faced alone. I have a sister but for the last decade she had been out if the picture as her and my mother had parted over how she complicated my dad’s death by disrupting the home hospice by dialing 911. My mom never for have her.
After these deaths I have some thoughts of how I want my pending death handled. If it is possible I want to chose when and where. I don’t want any extra measures used to prolong life if “living” means being confined to life support. I have died once. It wasn’t bad. In fact I passed through the light and saw a glimpse of the other side. I also now know that your life is a series of tasks and when you finish these tasks then you are called “home”. You never know when you have finished your mission but I have a feeling you will have some strong feelings or revelations that it is time to die. Of course in some cases it is our bodies that fail us but even that may be part if the plan. Our bodies are nothing but a vessel for the life force to function in this physical realm but I am also aware of another realm beyond this that is hard to describe. It us a realm of intense emotion and more of the mind than of physical nature. What happens then is still a mystery but one mystery I will embrace. I know that I will not know when death is going to happen. The last time I thought it was final only to be “told” that my mission was not complete and that I had to go back. Only “god” really knows. Do I believe in god? It all depends on how you see it. I believe there is a spiritual force and that we are part of that. I know that life as we know it is but one part of the matrix that we operate in. It is all powerful, full of love and grace, and beyond most people’s understanding. We are now in one part of the process and I know there is much more.
We live in a world that is limited by constructs of mere mortals. There are dimensions beyond these constructs we have yet to discover. Will we ever know the meaning of life? I doubt it. There may be a few people who have experienced part of this other realm but I don’t think we have heard of them or we have in our bias labeled them as crazy. We all will find that time when it is revealed to us.
I wrote this because I have feelings at times that I have nothing more to add to the world but then someone enters life to waken me to another part if my mission. I spent many happy years sharing life with Rosemary. But her mission ended. She passed away from complications from surgery. I met Mary only to have her reveal to me she had terminal cancer. I provided some joy and comfort in her final days. I now realize that these people were there because there was something for me to learn and something for me to share with them. Each encounter has enriched my experience. I have never stopped doing that. As I move forward I will discover more. I will hopefully will leave my mark just as others have left their mark on me.
While this writing is for myself I hope it makes you think. Life is what we make if it. We can try to isolate ourselves from the world around us but sooner or later we will be forced to be aware. It us best to be our best. We all have something to contribute but sometimes our contribution is not seen as such but is seen as a nuisance. I have discovered that after a person passes many people realize that a person was much more than a friend but we live with the regrets of not being able to acknowledge that in their presence. Life life to its full potential. That is how it supposed to be. I love life and all I encounter in it. You should to.
Thank you. I reserve the right to add to this at any time but I will try to let anyone who reads this know about it. This is about leaving a mark. It is about trying to make things better.