Monday, 8 October 2018

On The Ice

I'm on my break. It's 2.20 am
If a buzzer goes Im not on my break any longer
Thats the way it goes.
Ive just answered a call inbetween sentences here....the lady. Red eyed from sleep patted me on the shoulder and told me that I was a "bonnie big boy of a man!"
Ive been called worse
I've decided I am not going to get old.
Before I am too feeble to be able to wander unseen and unchallenged into the sunset. I will do what old eskimos do and will sit in the snow in their underpants until everything including my heart muscle goes blue.
My brother when he faced the end of his journey with motor neurone disease tentatively mentioned dignatas but the comment felt throwaway amid the reality of the everyday details of his care.
Sometimes conversations as important as these should be had with yourself when you are well
When I am old I dont want to be that burden to nephews or to strangers who are paid to care.
I expected to grow old along side an aging academic who would wear tweed and have hair growing out of his ears..thats now gone tits up!

I now aim to disappear into that snowstorm like little Eliza in Uncle Toms Cabin but dont worry Im not going just yet....its maybe 20+ years down the line.........when life is different
But it will happen
I am sure of it

123 comments:

  1. I think of this so often. This very evening, in fact.
    Not yet. Not yet. Hopefully, not for a long time.
    But.

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  2. I have no desire to get old and become dependent, or be middle aged and dependent. If I start to lose my marbles and I don't to stick around. But again, hopefully for not for awhile.

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    1. I don't want to become invisible either

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  3. I think of how to preserve good health as I age. I, too, don't want to be a burden. My mother volunteers with a hospice org that has her visiting terminal patients who are in short supply of families. She enjoys the work.

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    1. Thank goodness for her x

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  4. I've already instructed my daughter to live her life and not feel obligated to look after me. My own mother was both physically and mentally dependent. My husband's mother is completely physically healthy but has dementia. I don't know which is worse. I hope to never find out. -Jenn

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    1. The problem that love. Duty....and guilt often get un the way of personal instructions

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  5. Just an hour or so ago after seeing the deterioration in a group of people with Parkinson's Disease, and after having watched my late husband deteriorate with Lewy Body Dementia I said I would like to just go and sit in the snow and let the inevitable happen. The only problem is we don't get snow here.

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    1. I didnt mean to depress everyone

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  6. In three days I am off on a 4 hour flight to visit my mother. She has Alzheimer's and diabetes. She is fighting to stay in her home, but that may not be feasible. My youngest sister has been living there for many years, since her divorce, helping her to make that happen, but at some point mom will need more care and the choice will no longer be hers. I have made it quite clear to my adult children that I may decide on assisted dying when the time comes. It has been legal in Canada for several years.
    We all hope to be around for a long time, but we don't always know the end game until it is upon us.
    Barb

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    1. Thst is always my worry you dont always hear the fat kady singing

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  7. Food for thought...

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  8. My daughter in law will one day develop Huntingtons and has already spoken about suicide. The timing is so critical though......

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    1. A cruel disease i have nursed people with ut many times

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  9. What we expect or think does not always happen. You just have to adjust as you go.
    I have my will made up no special measures to save my life. I will be cremated and my ashes mixed with Kirby's, Watson's and thehamishe's. Life goes on .

    cheers, parsnip and badger

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    1. I suspect life finds a way. At any cost in the end

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  10. Oh yes. It is going to be a crowded ice floe.

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    1. We will all have to book a steam train to the north

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  11. I guess it's good to think about one's end once in a blue moon. And maybe make a plan, like you would in case the house burns down. A friend used to say 'Plan for the worst, hope for the best'.
    I used to say 'if I go doolally I hope I'm funny.' That's as far as I have thought so far.

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    1. The problem with many is that the plan is overwhelmed by ill health

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  12. As someone who will turn 80 next week, I have no plan to shuffle off this moral coil (I think I messed up that quote). I have had some medical problems recently and my brother and his family have stepped up. While I don't want to burden them they have insisted. Hopefully it won't go on much longer, the medical problem not me!

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  13. Barbara Anne5:38 am

    Not for a very, very, very, very long time from now, please and thank you. There is probably some other wonderful someone to grow old with.

    Hugs

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    1. Is Russell Crowe free?

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    2. Barbara Anne8:06 pm

      Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps!

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  14. I've often thought too that hypothermia would be a nice way to go. Just wander out into a freezing cold night (30/40 below -- easy here in Canada) in a quiet park, find a nice secluded spot, take off your parka, lie down and just go to sleep as you freeze. Apparently you don't even feel the cold after a bit.

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    1. Knowing my luck global worming will fuck up my plans

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  15. Anonymous7:09 am

    My husband said her would just wander into the bush, I laughed and laughed because he hates discomfort of any kind, I’m going to pick my power of attorney with care, my family knows what I’d like including when I die, donate any part of me that could help someone then the cheapest and most environmentally friendly coffin available, no embalming fluid. Jo

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    1. Anonymous8:07 am

      Google - Directed Cremation. I'm in the process of investigating this myself. I live in the UK, not sure if this is available elsewhere. Carol.

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    2. Anonymous8:18 am

      I've prepaid my funeral already, a direct cremation. I went to a private crematorium's open day and so impressed decided that was the way to go for me. Low cost too yet still respectful.

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  16. John is giving a first prize of a night on Gop Hill in January for the most original death plan.

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    1. Haha! John you can't leave if you still have Mary!!

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    2. I'm not planning to go just yet

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  17. I've told my kids to dump me in a home and run. I wanted children, I had four, I had all the love and joy children can bring, I now have 9 grandchildren. I don't want to be a burden. I hope my beloved dies before me as he will not manage alone, I will.

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    1. Ever the pragmatist Hester x

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  18. I have antiphospholipid syndrome and early onset Parkinson's Disease. I dread becoming a burden, I already need help with everyday stuff. Life is getting difficult. But I want to be here forever. 😊

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    1. Honestly put....I think we all want to be here forever

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  19. I'm sure there is another Prof out there waiting in the wings for you John. You have a lovely kind nature and will make a beautiful partner for someone. I know what you mean though, about getting old and infirm and it is a worry sometimes for all of us. Never thought about the snow thingy. Trouble is we do not get much here so I might have to wait a long time and be so feeble that I couldn't stagger out into it, but I'll keep it in mind. lol
    Briony
    x

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  20. Well, that was all very cheerful for a dull Monday morning !!

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    1. Apologies but I was deprived of sleep

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  21. As I think you know, my sister has had MND for 15 years. I'm told that in the early stages she wanted to end her life, but she now seems to be reconciled to her situation and enjoys whatever she can still enjoy. It helps that she has a devoted husband.

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    1. I remember talking about it with you nick,,.she seems to be dealing with it better than my brother did

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  22. Yes, the plan is to “wander off into the sunset” but how to do it? I just don't know.

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    1. I think you have put your finger on the fly in the ointment

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  23. Thought provoking post, it's a conversation we all need to have with ourselves and our loved ones. I'm with you, getting old alone in this world is not a great prospect.

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  24. I feel the same way. The thought of becoming enfeebled and dependent on strangers terrifies me. My dad had the perfect death. After spending a lovely afternoon with his family and just after we'd left, he sat at the table, put his head down on his arms and closed his eyes for the last time.

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    1. I want to go eating a scotch egg, preferably AFTER I had downed it

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  25. Global warming will thwart your exit plan.

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    1. I actually laughed out loud at this and then became sad because it is true.

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    2. You beat me to the joke

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  26. Yes. These conversations should be had when we’re well. And yes we’ll all be gone sooner or later. But who knows what life will bring in the meantime. Here’s hoping there are lots of good things in store. But I hope this doesn’t mean I have to move someplace with snow.

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    1. The thing is when we become ill we may change our mind. I may have APS and Parkinson's but I still want to go on and on. I think you are right - there are good things in store 😊

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    2. And seriously talked about too xx

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  27. Joan (Devon)10:38 am

    I have two major health issues of which there is no cure for either and will/are getting worse. I don't want to be a burden to anyone, especially family, nor do I want to 'pop my clogs'. I'm just hoping that I have the courage and determination to do something about it when the time is 'right'.

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  28. Death like life can be messy. We seem to have had it all. My father lived with Parkinson’s for 22 years and taught us grace with each life change that came along. My husband recently died as a result of alcoholism. The absolute worst. My plan is to live joyfully and enjoy whatever comes my way. Some days this is easier than others.

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    1. Cindi another finger on the pulse comment x

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  29. John - none of us know what may happen next year let alone in your case twenty years down the line. There is plenty of time to meet the love of your life - don't dismiss that - I loved my first husband to bits but the farmer was the love of my life - it happens - expect it.

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    1. Ever the lady with a glass half full dearheart

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  30. You can still grow old with someone. There is much more life to be had before you have an end of life plan. Get yourself a toy boy and when death comes knocking on the door make sure you are snuggled up on the sofa with him watching a favourite movie and snacking on scotch eggs whilst he whispers words of love and admiration for you! You can be the ageing mentor with hairs growing out of your ears and your nose minus the tweed jacket. x

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    1. Get yourself a tomboy!

      I'll pop down to Sainsbury's tomorrow xx

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  31. This is a very poignant post John... I think we all wanted you to grow old with your Prof...not that it was our relationship ... but it sounded fab and was great reading and very romantic...and it was a bitch for ending the way it has... and I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone I loved. We/I don't know you.. but we feel we do... blogland has a way of connecting like minds... and now we are on the conversation of the end.. the end of relationships the end of life.. well I work with people in the twilight of their lives and let me tell you I have my plan... I have my stash of pills that ... when I decide the time is right I will shuffle off in my own way and not be a burden to anyone.. and that as they say will be that. Thank you for being you.

    Jo in Auckland

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    1. I feel a bit cheated as I have always talked about my burial and funeral . I made it clear what I wanted and now my instructions are rather fruitless

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    2. John I think you said you had a sister? Could you write down your wishes and give them to her? We're in the process of making our wishes known for end of life care and attaching them to our wills, I forget what it's called - a living will?

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  32. John, you might remember I'm a nurse as well. I have my Plan A, B, and C in order. A is if I get diagnosed with a terminal disease/cancer. B is for if I get dementia. C is in case nobody listened.

    My sons have agreed they will take in me into the back 40. If by any chance I'm still roaming the next day, they will go deer hunting. Accidents happen.

    I want my family to remember me as I am, not what I became.

    And sweet heavens, I detest that maudlin poem that goes round nurses circles every so often. The one about remember me as I was not the cranky, nasty, helpless patient in the bed.

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  33. I want to have this conversation with my daughter, but she just won't talk about it. Like others I don't want to be a burden and already know what my escape route will be, should the need arise. I am in the process of putting together a pack containing my will, life insurance details, details of my pensions etc and plan on giving this to my daughter, so at least she won't have to rummage through my house looking for them when the time comes.

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  34. This is an issue that for obvious reasons is on my mind rather a lot lately. I'm going nowhere until I have to. I'm hanging on in there and everybody else will just have to damn well wait with me!

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    1. Brilliant. Me too 😊

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  35. I HATE the cold. No iceberg for me. Warm bed, clean sheets, maybe will once in my life feel how good heroin is suppose to feel then check out. No guns, no car in the mountains. Got a nephew who is a corpsman who loves me and has promised to help me out....when needed.

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  36. my dad did it right, massive stroke in the middle of the night, just too soon. my mother lingered for years with dementia and TIAs, couldn't even wipe her own ass. don't want to be like that.

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    1. Joan (Devon)2:17 pm

      My parents were the same ellen. My dad died in his sleep with a heart attack aged 46, such a shock for us (I was 16 at the time). My Mum died at 93 with dementia, which was upsetting to say the least.

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  37. Anonymous2:22 pm

    I'm 73yrs old. I spent my life not being a burden to anyone. It's a joke now, I tell them I come with a couple of pennies, My own toilet seat and a few boxes of Depends all they have to do is feed me and change me. They still say No. But I know they will evently. I think...……….

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    1. My own toilet seat ! A real pleasure

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  38. I aim to shuffle off in my late eighties, with a large G&T in my hand and a toyboy (Miguel) laying exhausted by my side. I shall utter the words "Miguel! Enough of this fabulous sex!" and then I will shudder and be gone. Hey, I can dream.....x

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    1. And the prize for the best comment goes to Lisa xx

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  39. Thank you for starting the conversation for your readers. Everyone needs to think about what they want, respirators, feeding tubes, CPR, care by family, care by professionals, who you want around, what do you want to hear. Put it in writing, and even more important talk about it with your family and friends. If you don't do this, the default is everything being done with Fox News playing in the background for as long as medical science can keep a pulse going. (I spend half of my working time researching and writing about end of life issues.)

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    1. Yes I thought of your dave when I wrote it perhaps u can do another blog post about it which I link people to

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  40. Oh my gosh I have always joked that I would just take a walk one winter night in my nightgown lol if things became worse, I live in northern Ontario Canada and there are people die every winter of exposure, some accidental some not, bottom line it should be our choice, but John Gray, I have never met you in person but read your words for a long time and I believe your heart speaks through your words, your for ever love is still out there, he could be just around the corner, don’t give up on love just yet, you have to much to give, you’re still grieving but the sting will soon leave and you will learn to trust and love again, you will see, he’s out there, hairy ears an all!

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  41. My mother in law lived past the age of 100. She was born in Russia, went through the horrible events of history , she and her 2 brothers were smuggled out to save their lives, one going to Israel, one to South America and she went to the United States .
    She had such stories to tell ! Such a life of hardship and sadness and thankfully, eventually, love and children and a husband .. then Alzheimer's came along and wiped it all away.
    So that now has to be considered when making a living will ..
    Lisa has a good idea. a good dream :)

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  42. When the time comes I want the option to go when I damn well want to. I hope I have my shit together enough to recognize what is happening and take care of things. And as far as your love life - there is no reason to think someone meant for you isn't going to make it to you someday. I loved Weaver's comment above about that.

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    1. Yes weave has a " spirit that won the war mentality" I envy her

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  43. You’ve depressed me !!! ..... it’s like those bloody funeral adverts one after the other, then Wiltshire foods and then Stenna stairlifts ..... I feel that a good laugh is far better than dwelling on the inevitable ! XXXX

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    1. So sorry I promise to be upbeat tomorrow xx

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    2. I’m only joking ! I’m sure it’s because of the place you are in at the moment. You still make us laugh even when you are downπŸ™ƒ XXXX

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    3. Jacqueline - this is easy for someone healthy to say. However if you're unable to manage the stairs because of extreme pain that can reduce you to tears then a stairlift and other aids are very welcome. As for Wiltshire foods for someone who is unable to cook or stand about in the kitchen preparing food they're a godsend. If advertising them on television means that more people who haven't heard of them are able to access them then we shouldn't mind that "those bloody adverts" are interrupting our healthy happy lives. More kindness and understanding of the elderly wouldn't go amiss.

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  44. My brother had melanoma and it had spread to his brain and lungs by the time he was diagnosed. He was divorced and living alone and he had a plan for ‘when it was time’. I think that it is hard to recognize when that time arrives. He passed that time where he could do it so he just stopped eating.

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  45. According to my kids, I am at 55 well past it. And should at my age, be sitting in a rocking chair, rocking back and forwards. I however have no intentions of dying either just yet or gracefully. And when the time comes. I will not be a burden to them and will take myself off somewhere and pop my clogs how I decide. The years I have left will be spent making crazy memories.
    But when I am gone I hope they say 'thank God' rather than 'oh bless the old dear'.

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    1. Anonymous5:25 pm

      … and the youngsters of today will be expected to retire from work when they are 70 in the UK.
      You go girl!!! :-)

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    2. I want to be remembered fondly

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  46. A friend of our son's mother had a brain aneurism almost two weeks ago. At times we've been told things are pretty good, but I'm not sure that the 20 something year olds really understand. She couldn't speak when they took her off sedation, then last night I was told she probably had a stroke in the last few days and she may have lost sight in her right eye.

    I just don't know what her prognosis is, but it is pretty sobering because she must be about the same age as me.

    Helen

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  47. I have no idea of what we will do. I'm so much older than G, that age throws any statistics off kilter.

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  48. Have you seen the movie "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring"? There's a great scene where an elderly, ill Buddhist monk launches himself into the middle of a lake on a raft and then sets it on fire. I do think it's possible to linger too long in our modern society. On the other hand, when we're actually facing the void, I wouldn't be surprised if we choose to stay as long as possible!

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    1. Yes Steve, I have seen it and I remember that scene well

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  49. All good food for thought.

    Let's start with your heart. It is broken, but it will heal, though it will seem like an eternity. You may live another 30-40 years, there is much living to do yet my dear. Think of all the animals you still have to adopt in the future. ;-)

    I think anyone who has an illness that has no cure like Huntington's, ALS, have the right to decide if they want to leave on their own terms instead of the disease's terms. Quite frankly, everyone deserves a say on their death/burial if it is possible.

    XO

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    1. Barbara Anne8:16 pm

      Amen to both paragraphs from this retired nurse!

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  50. You have written beautifully a few times about how you have cared for the dying and the lonely. We all meet our end one day and I can only hope that I will have someone as kind as you to hold my hand when I leave this life. We all deserve that.

    I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to take a part in caring of my parents and a dear friend in their last year of life. It was very hard but that is what you do for those you love. My last wishes have been given verbally and in writing, and hopefully they will be followed.

    You will not be alone, John. Another love will come your way. You are irresistible.

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    1. Irresistible?
      Can you put that in writing

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  51. Heidi6:27 pm

    We should have that conversation but not only with ourselves but with our family/loved ones too so that they know our wishes.
    I'm sure you won't always be single John, perhaps it just needs you to get back your joie de vivre and you'll find love again. First of all you need to look after yourself and give yourself some TLC. Healing takes time.

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  52. You may well know that here in Oregon (NW United States), we have a "death with dignity" law. One interesting thing is that only a small percentage of those who have requested the formal paperwork, etc., actually go through with the process. To me, that says something about the fear of death (which can be the fear of pain) versus the reality of it.

    (And I wonder if--and I haven't dug into the reports to know one way or another--those who have talked to their docs about their wishes have then become emboldened to pursue palliative and/or hospice care.)

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  53. You do get to a certain age and begin to wonder about such things.

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  54. I did not know this about Eskimos and I use this new information on my GP.

    Yet again thank you John for your valued words.

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    1. We have coffee we should share and I believe it is my "turn". Just nod when you have time and energy to share.

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  55. The older I get, the more I think on this.
    No burden at all would be my wish.
    The pill stash sounds like a plan.
    But what if I can no longer swallow . . .

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  56. The older I get the more I notice "old" people. I don't want to be that guy the shuffles in the grocery store. It scares me. But aging is a part of life, something we all must accept!

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    1. I am that person who shuffles in the grocery store. I am 56, not old just unwell and yes it scares me too 😊 I think we need to accept that illness as well as aging is a part of life.
      Life is hard and I have had some very very dark thoughts about my demise. But this blog post has made me realise that I can and will fight this. Something I was unsure about just last week.

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    2. Michael - It's really sad that people have this attitude to older people, seeing them as the "old person who shuffles in the grocery store." More kindness and understanding would go a long way to make things better for these "old" people Older age can be extremely lonely.

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  57. I have asked both of my children to shove my wheelchair off the cliff at the ocean if the time comes, but they both refuse to do it! Ungrateful brats!!

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  58. I don't think very many of us truly know how we will react to old age, infirmity or death until the time comes. Those who want to fight to the end will likely reach a point where the treatment is worse than dying, and those who want to "manage" their deaths may not be able to proceed with it until it's too late to do so. I am so glad that my father was lucid up until the very end, when he indicated he didn't want to go back to the hospital for his medical crisis, and died a peaceful death in the nursing home with the help of drugs to sedate him. If I could go like that I would count myself lucky.

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  59. Just an optimistic note, never give up on love, I met the love of my life in my 60s. It will happen for you I am sure. You are surrounded by loving caring people, perhaps one of them ;) X

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  60. We've already had the conversation about what to do if either of us has a major life changing accident and is left a vegetable, or we get old and knackered and have had enough.

    I doubt there will be any snow to sit in after all yesterday's depressing news, you better work out a back up plan πŸ˜†

    Hopefully it will include a handsome hunk, wearing tweed and bringing another Bulldog into the mix to delay the first plan for many, many years πŸ™‚

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    ReplyDelete

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