Topic of the week: Death

A fascinating article about the unpredictable business of dying.

Those suffering from physical frailty, lose the ability to walk, to dress themselves or to move from bed to wheelchair without a Hoyer lift and the strong backs of aides earning so little that many qualify for food stamps. These patients, often referred to as the old-old, require diapers, spoon-feeding and frequent repositioning in bed to avoid bedsores. Those with dementia, most often Alzheimer’s disease, lose short-term memory, fail to recognize loved ones, get lost without constant supervision and eventually forget how to speak and swallow.

What all of these patients need, Dr. Lynn said, is custodial care, which can easily cost $100,000 a year and is not reimbursed by Medicare. The program was created in 1965 when hardly anyone lived this long.

“We’re doing this so badly because we’ve never been here before,” Dr. Lynn said. “But the care system we’ve got didn’t come down from the mountain. We made it up, and we can make it up better.”


A subject close to my heart

I held my father's hand as he died from cancer. I'm now watching my mother slowly ease on down the road towards the end at the hands of several conditions that make it impossible to tell which one will kill her. I am seriously considering going to graduate school for the appropriate courses to become a hospice counselor. Death is frightening until you confront it, and then it is not. I suppose it sounds morbid, but I'm fascinated by the way people die. If I can find away to do it, I'm going to give them a way to do it with more dignity.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

It's a good desire to have,

pursuing hospice work. You're right, death is only frightening if you're frantic to avoid it. It isn't the enemy. Working some years ago as a bereavement counselor at Hospice of the Chesapeake in MD certainly made a difference for me when it came to sitting by the bed as my father died.

What kind of background did you have to have?

And tell me - did you burn out?

Everyone tells me it's not something you can do for a long time. I think about it and get a peace that I haven't had about a vocation for a long time. I'm really interested in knowing.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

From that post

Which everyone should read:

In North Carolina, 53 teenage girls become pregnant every day. We have the 9th highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country. Almost thirty-percent of teen pregnancies in North Carolina involve teenagers who are pregnant for a second time. Yet, “abstinence until marriage only” is the standard healthy living curriculum in our schools.

I had to tell my son he could go get free condoms at the health department. No one at school told them that. I told him -- tell all your friends, girls and boys. Go to the health department and ask for condoms. I was shocked that there was no other education for teenagers than "don't do it". Yeah. Right. Think back to when YOU were a teenager. Then tell your child to go get condoms at the health department. And educate them yourself about all the other possible birth control methods. Because they are going to do it. Whether you want them to or not.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

I've had several friends die recently.

And a couple of others have parents in hospice care right now.

My take? Dying in America nets out somewhere between a scam and a scandal. We're spending far too much medical money and social capital propping ourselves up during the last few weeks of our lives.

Do you have a living will?

I do.

Had it done before Dad died.

Dying should be done well - with dignity if possible, within ones own terms if necessary. I plan on confronting my own mortality square head on - however it comes. Won't run from it, won't run to it, either.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Came across this essay while waiting in a doctor's office

The Light of Death, by Nancy Gibbs - Time Magazine.

Death will never be pretty--its sights and smells too close and crude. And it will never come under our control: it gallops where we tiptoe, rips up our routines, burns our very breath with its heat and sting. And yet while sorrow is certain, fear is not. "She had a very good death," a friend says of her mother, and I have an idea of what she means and don't hear it as a shrug of denial or contradiction.

I asked a doctor friend what makes the difference, once the battle is out of her hands. "Fear," she said, "and regret. Take those away, and what's left is peace."

There are those--soldiers and nurses, poets and priests--for whom death is a sure companion. But most of us treat it as a notorious celebrity we watch from afar, fascinated but removed, until we have no choice, preferring myth to truth. Do we raise the odds of dying well if we pitch our tents within sight of the cemetery, feel the cold earth and vow to make a bucket list, make resolutions, make amends? Ten million people watch Professor Randy Pausch's Last Lecture on YouTube; see the shining, dying man; and quietly promise themselves to shift out of neutral, stop being stupid about the stupid things. I celebrate Daddy's Deathday for who he was and what he made us, a day when gratitude came to life.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

The Butterfly Effect. But for me, it was a wasp.....

The timing of your post entitled Death was particularly relevant to me. Monday afternnon I was driving back to Person Co. through northern Orange Co. A wasp flew into the car. It dropped down between my kness and my eyes reflexively followed it, no thought involved. At that same moment, my car entered a rather sharp left curve. In that same instant, I recall being puzzled at the gravelly sounds under my tires and looked up. TREES!! Turn the wheel hard left ... carreen across road ... hit the opposite ditch hard ... go up embankment still moving fast ... TELEPHONE POLE!!! Wheel hard right ... AIR BAG ... miss telephone pole (wheewww!!) ... crunching noises, rolling upside down and one final crunch.
I am sitting in my car facing into some woods. My right hand hurts ... and my lower back feels badly bruised. A quick selfcheck reveals that everything works and there are no sharp pains coming from neck, back or torso. Damn my hand hurts and there's SMOKE!! Throw some "important" junk out of the car and open the door. I walk around the back of the car just as an SUV slows down. I wave weakly and slump to the ground on one knee.
I am fine. EMTs released me at the scene. Just some cuts and bruises. Car was totaled. Smoke was residual from air bags.
If I had made any of 12-15 decisions differently Monday the accident wouldn't have happened. Likewise had 4-5 events happened that didn't, like an oncoming car, then I most likely wouldn't be typing this now.
Sometimes Fate collides with human frailty and there is not a damn thing we can do about it.

I have always worn my seat belt. You better believe I will continue to do so.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Damn. That sucks.

Man that sucks. Glad to hear you are okay, but that was one scary story, Mike. Very scary.

Thank you. I guess the good of it is that

I am ok. The bad is that I trashed a perfectly good, paid-for vehicle that was still getting 32-33 mpg.

So now in addition to shopping for a house, I get to go shopping for a car. Too bad I am not a shopper.

So soon I will be paying on a mortgage and a vehicle - now that's scary!! :)

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

I'm so glad you're ok.

Moments like that can give your life perspective.

I'm really glad you're ok.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Thank you, Linda. Just a few areas of soreness left.

Moments like that can give your life perspective.

I have been thinking about that. My life is about to change in significant ways - house owner for the first time, and I'll be getting a divorce soon. I guess it is a time for new things, now including a new car. Even had a pet die earlier this year.

Much to my relief I am not considering any sort of sporty midlife-crisis-mobile. :)


Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?