I'm middle aged and in good health. I eat junk probably about like everyone and exercise probably about like a few. I wear my seat belt always like most and gave up my motorcycle a quarter of a century ago like some of us do. I weigh what I'm supposed to and fit comfortably in the middle of my BMI. I do snow ski, but I'm not an aggressive, go so fast it's scary, skier. I live a comfortable life and am married. My doc says my blood pressure is too high, but it's medicated. My cholesterol, LDL, is too high, but I'm working on it. And other than that I have limited, if any, risk factors.
I'd say my life is great. There was a rocky start as I was born to a couple who simply shouldn't have had children (they had 4, all living as are my parents), but after that rather odd beginning, things sort of smoothed out and I somehow had the patience and persistence and opportunity to make it through college which got me out of a "hell this is going to kill me" construction job and into an air conditioned office. I make good money with relatively moderate stress and like my job.
Do Not Resuscitate, DNR, as I understand it, having seen its work during an episode with a relative, is an order a patient gives to medical staff that says "if I seem to be dying leave it alone, let it be, let me go." I don't have a Living Will and I don't have a DNR order, but I want to be left alone. My life is great, but I don't have any desire to get old, crippled up and sickly. I don't want people pretending to fawn over me and figuring out "whose going to take Grandpa William to Schlotzsky's for a fun lunch?
I know me. I'm not going to do old well. I don't do sick well. I hate hospitals. Leave it alone.
Life to me has always been about living. That's why I can say without hesitation that women, and only women, should have the right to choose. Old, white Congress-men, as well as men in general, should just butt out of that conversation. All we do is impregnate; argue that point all you want, but we're sperm donors. If there's limited living associated with the life, or there's a better than even chance there'll be limited living associated with the life, then let it be.
I've watched a number of friends die from cancer. It's a twisted, awful s*h*i*t*t*y death of burning chemo and freezing outcomes and surgery after surgery after surgery and hospital after hospital after hospital and brilliant physicians we abbreviate as onc-docs and unbelievably compassionate nurses and stressed-out nutritionists and trying to keep food down I wouldn't eat if my life depended on it and pain and deprivation and expenses so far outstripped by any insurance as to just approach insanity and horrible days and great moments and whispers and quiet and secrets and loss of control of everything from decisions to bowels, and, and, and...
And I've had friends who have been cured, or are in remission as well. So I've seen the grossly negative and the remarkably positive.
And of course I've lost loved ones to old age. I've watched them in "their twilight years" and almost to a person, almost all of them, at some point between the applesauce dribbling down their chins to the loneliness I can see in their eyes as I walk out of their room at the old folks' landfill, I don't see living in the life. Let me go.
And there's a bunch of anger in some folks who have read this far. Please accept my apologies. I'm not attempting to belittle people who have a different view, or demean their opinions. And I'm not attempting to be a minimalist when it comes to dictates from the Book. I'm not making a religious or moral argument. I'm making a personal choice. Please direct your anger to a system that puts life on a pedestal so high and so vast it obliterates our ability to see if there's living.
This is, or should be, my decision. I don't want to be part of the 20 percent consuming 80 percent of the health care dollars in my twilight years. Mine is definitely not the decision for everyone. Shoot, if folks have the means and want to be hooked up to a machine until we run out of electricity regardless of brain activity, or bowel activity or heart activity, and this is their choice, or if they want to be frozen until there's a cure and they can somehow be unfrozen and live a long and productive life centuries after the fact, then by all means. I choose death, however, over this sort of life. I don't consider myself suicidal; I consider myself to be capable of making this decision. If I have a say, and my daughter knows this and my spouse knows this, and for me, please DNR. Not to the extreme as that would be suicide. But, I mean, if in the next ten years or so my heart stops and someone wants to give me a jolt or two with those paddle things that work so well on television and I still seem to have some viability above chicken level, go ahead and give me a couple of pops. But if the choice is "he needs a new heart, but we can keep him breathing with this tube, bag, oxygen, gauze, this other sterile stainless steel thing that I can't remember the name of, and oh, this sock until someone else gives it up and donates a working whatever," then, please, leave it alone.
And, if I'm at my doc's office over the course of the next few years and he says "William, I'm not liking the discoloration of that mole and I want to take a look at it" and he sends me to a dermatologist and the dermatologists yanks the mole and she sends it "to the lab" for a biopsy and it comes back malignant and we're pretty early in the game and the onc-docs think they have a pretty good solution as it has a 70% or 80% success rate in other patients and the side effects aren't I end up looking like I've been ravaged with a pick ax, then give me the chemotherapy regimen for a bit and see if that nasty old stuff goes running for the hills. But if instead they start cutting and when they're done there's more of me in the discard pile than there is of me on the table and that's simply the beginning of a journey that is between pure, unadulterated agony and excruciating pain, frustration and expense just let it be. I choose death over this sort of life.
My life is great, but it's not the beating of my heart that makes it so. It's spending time with my wonderful daughter and her husband. And not time as I recline in a bed, wrapped in a sweater and goofy cap and sort of make little noises and smile occasionally while my son-in-law looks desperately to escape a room that even if it weren't 168 degrees would be uncomfortable. It's spending time with my family and being able to do so without having to negotiate a wheelchair, or colostomy bag, or soiled diaper that I didn't seat properly and so I have stuff running down my leg again that normally I try not to step in, or an otherwise quickly wearing out body. It's catching that last bitingly cold run of the day as the limited heat fades from a sun cowering behind misty, heavenly clouds and sitting then with a steaming hot chocolate, with marshmallow, with my wife holding hands listening to a musical wizard in the base lodge at Winter Park; if this is not my life, then I choose death every time.
These are things that make my living so great, these are the things that make my life. When I don't have the preceding, when simply going to the grocery store is a logistical nightmare because there aren't enough places to stop to go to the bathroom and the reason I'm going is to buy another few cases of adult diapers and I'm still wondering this late in the morning if I took all sixteen of my a.m. prescriptions and where the heck did I leave my glasses and walker and did we recharge the little "get in the way of just about everything" electric scooter then please let me go. If this is my life, no question, I choose death.
Please. Let. Me. Go. DNR.