March 7, 2012

Not just waiting around

When I wrote recently that I was ready now, I think I might have left the impression that this was was it - everything had been done and I was on my way. Talking about changes to my body may have colored that a bit too. However, that's not the case so much. I wanted to let you know that I had things "in place" so that everything went smoothly when the time did come. But until then, I don't plan on just waiting around. I have lots to do (videos, blogs, see some movies - lots of things) and intend to fill my time as best I can doing things I love with the people I love. This is the best way to spend my time and the most important legacy I have left to give.

So when will I die? It always seems to come down to that question. The fact is, I don't know that and may not until closer to the end. I just read a book called Final Gifts written by a couple of hospice nurses who suggest that many terminal patients know when they are going, among other fascinating things they experience. I can see that. In fact, I have a good friend who senses a strong spirit or angel around me that suggests, if I'm not close, at least I'm ready and in good hands. Rather than scare me, this actually lends me great peace and solace. As I've suggested before, the idea that there is "something next" allows me to stop worrying and enjoy the time I do have left.

But, ultimately, it will be the sum total of how I feel that tells me I'm dying and that will tell me when I'm close. In fact,I thought I might be close after the wedding (Dianne did as well). I couldn't wake up. I felt great emotionally but, physically, I honestly thought that I might just never wake up. The fact that it lasted several days compounded this feeling but I hung on to the idea that my body was recovering from the tremendous effort of participating as if I wasn't ill coupled with an exceedingly bad pain attack and trip to emergency. It seems that I was right and I'm happy to be here continuing to write. The last shoe hasn't dropped yet on the pain attack, but that's another story.

So I'm definitely not just waiting around to die. I'm writing, I'm working on visiting with friends which will be very good for me. I'm actively participating in hospice activities and in my care. Dianne and I are spending quality time together. I'm doing videos for my family and generally cleaning up paperwork and the ongoing clutter of a life lived well enough. Above all, I do feel that I'm making a difference in what has now become a profession of sorts - a full time blogger on the subject of death and dying - educating others on what it's like to die and what it might all mean. I want to be informative to those in palliative and hospice care so they can better understand the mindsets of their charges. I want others who are dying to see themselves and help their loved ones to see them in a more open light. Judging from the comments and emails I receive, I really am having some success in these areas and I'm very proud of that.

I really want people to open up about dying. Talk about it. Think about how the idea of mortality has shaped your life. Talk with your family about how you would want to die so, if and when the time comes, they know what to do with you. It's not much different than having a will, with the satisfaction that can bring, but is more personal.

We never really know how much time we have left, so don't leave it too long. Write your own story before its too late.
 

Personal Update


Starting to get side effects from my new pain meds and from the meds that address their side effects. My skin is starting to feel raw and my anxiety level is rising. But maybe it's from the cancer, in part. Need to talk to my doctor.

3 comments:

Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D. said...

Doug,

I haven't commented often (this may be my first comment), but I wanted to be sure that I tell you how much I appreciate your posts and your commitment to share this journey. So often dying is shrouded in silence, and I think that your choice to do it differently is a huge gift. There are a small group of us chatting Thursday nights on the #EOLchat hashtag who are trying to promote the idea that talking about our death and dying is a powerful way to embrace life. Most of us read your work and are inspired by it!

Thank you,
Ann

Jane Murray said...

Doug,

I have been following your updates since seeing your story on City tv. Thank you for your candid discussions about death. I believe it is so important. I believe preparing (as best we can) for death is not any different than preparing for anything else in life. My Dad died a month ago and he wasn't able to prepare. Thank you, Doug. Wishing you and your family strength.

Laura Shook said...

Just wanted you to know that recently bought your book and have enjoyed reading it. I can relate to much of what you experienced. Some of your stories have made me laugh out loud. Thank you for continuing to share your story.
Laura Shook