The Case for Death

Forgive me… this has nothing to do with magical living. Or maybe it does. But basically I’m just working through it, and I’m writing it here because it is not a topic I can comfortably discuss with my family. I’m leaving comments open. Feel free to leave your input.

As some of you know, my mother is scheduled to have open heart surgery tomorrow morning, 8/10/10. Whether she actually has the surgery will depend on whether they find appropriate veins to use – it seems that they need to take one from another location to use in her heart.

My brother, whom she lives with, doesn’t feel that she has a choice about the surgery. And it is true that with a 90% blockage in one of her veins, she would be looking at a massive heart attack in the (relatively) near future. With the surgery, though, she is looking at a painful operation and an excruciating recovery period. There is no attractive choice here. But there is a choice.

At age 87, how much longer would she have to live after the recovery period? Would she be healthy for that time? If you ask the doctors, they will say “there’s no guarantee” – which of course there isn’t – and they won’t even give you odds that she’ll have a single pain-free day.

Is it so terrible to think that a sudden massive heart attack isn’t that bad a way to go? Sudden and brief and at nearly 90 years old… what more could you ask for? I’m almost sorry that she had the warning, which just seems to me to do little more that cause fear and an illusion of having an alternative. (See why I can’t talk with the family? LOL)

Nobody gets out of dying. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you think comes after. You are going to die one day. You don’t know when it’s coming, but sooner or later the fates are going to slap a death card on the table in front of you. Sometimes it will be of a nature that will let medical science push the card back in Atropos’s lap, but you can’t avoid it forever.

My biggest question here is: You’ve drawn the “quick and painless” death card. Do you want to keep it or throw it back? Let’s make a deal. You can have some more time, but you don’t know how much, or what the next card will be.

I am not saying that the Fates are vengeful bitches, because I don’t believe that metaphors really have emotions, let alone petty emotions. But…

I have seen bad deaths. Both of my fathers died within a year of each other. Lung and colon cancer, respectively. My father, who was arguably too young to die at 67, accepted his death as something that should have happened during WWII. The condition was painful, even with morphine, but mercifully he was out of pain within the month. My father-in-law was even younger – he was only 56 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He wanted so badly to live just one more day. He had surgery after surgery and any other treatment that the doctor thought might help. It gained him about a year. During that year, he gradually lost control of all functions, was in constant pain, and was never out of bed.

So it goes. When you toss the one card back, there’s no telling what the next one will be. Same death a year later or different death after decades. But at age 87, I think it’s safe to assume that the cards will start flying her way at an ever increasing rate. And as deaths go, how do you get better than sudden massive coronary?

In this age of medical marvels, I think it’s too easy to forget that we do have a choice. She doesn’t need to have open heart surgery. She can choose a natural death. I hope, in the hype to determine if the surgery is even an option, that the other viable option doesn’t get completely forgotten.

2 Replies to “The Case for Death”

  1. Food for thought Nyniane… Indeed, none can avoid the cold hand of the Goddess, and we will all return to her. The knowing, and anticipation of such an operation could be a difficult thing for many. Western medicine can be a double edged sword, sacraficing one thing for another in pursuit of keeping the test results ‘normal’. Hopefully all goes well and she has many years of happy, healthy life.

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