Communion Of Dreams

Thinking of ‘checking out’.
August 14, 2010, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Health, Survival

No, don’t worry – I’m not suicidal. Yes, I’ve been through a mild depressive bout recently, but nothing that severe.

But I have been thinking about the possibility of my own death. It’s actually something that I think about a fair amount.

Again – don’t worry. This is a natural outgrowth of losing one’s parents at a young age. You tend to be realistic about your own mortality. I’ve been like this all of my adult life. It’s not a bad way to be – I try and enjoy life in the moment, not take things for granted. I tell my wife I love her often, and my friends that I value their friendship. I have a preference for experiences rather than things, knowing that I won’t always be around to appreciate things. But I also see that things will live beyond me, and so prefer to have *good* things that others will someday appreciate. This last item is also part of the reason I do what I do professionally – both the book conservation and the writing. They are things which I will be happy to have outlive me.

Yesterday when I talked to the nurse at my medical group, she told me that she’d call in the new Rx for antibiotics, and that I should try and take it easy this weekend to let them work. She was also pretty insistent that I knew that if I am not feeling better come Monday that the doctor wanted to see me again.

I’m a little too smart for my own good. Upon hearing this (and promising to comply), I got to thinking about why the doctor would want to see me on Monday, given my symptoms. A couple of ideas occurred which explained it. One, he could just want to make sure I was getting proper monitoring for a lung infection, given my history of problems with pneumonia (which I have had four or five times). This is the most likely explanation. Or he could be concerned that I have an antibiotic-resistant strain of whatever infectious agent was at work. These days, that is not entirely unreasonable, and smart doctors are keeping an eye out for such problems. Lastly, a number of other possible problems could be manifesting as the symptoms I have, from whooping cough (not as severe in adults, but still…) to lung cancer (one of the most deadly cancers out there).

OK. So, those are the possibilities. Face them. Consider them. Consider the ramifications, from minor annoyance to “put your affairs in order”. There’s no reason to be afraid, just prepared. Fear is the mind killer.

Mostly, I live my life such that were I to be hit by a truck tomorrow, things wouldn’t be that hard for whoever had to clean up the mess. In this particular case, if I have some kind of life-ending disease, then that’ll be my wife. Some conservation work wouldn’t get done. My co-author would have to see to getting Her Final Year published. My dog would miss me. My friends would have to throw a decent wake, or I’d come haunt them. The cats *might* notice that someone else now feeds them. The rest of the BBTI testing would have to be done in my absence. Insurance would cover my debts. If I had some time (such as with a disease) I could find homes for the few things I would want others to have – otherwise, my wife would be happy to hold onto things as a memento (she’s very sentimental that way).

Chances are, if I am *not* feeling significantly better come Monday, that when I see the doctor it’ll turn out that he is just taking appropriate precautions. But, you know, I consider the alternatives. I hate surprises.

This is the way I think. Always have. Don’t dwell on it, but am well aware that I am just a temporary resident here. So I think it is better to be prepared.

Don’t you?

Jim Downey


2 Comments so far
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I hope it’s minor & you make a speedy recovery. But yes we are at an age where we do start thinking of such things, even when well. Then there is the thing of growing old and not having children to care for us in our old age. Our fur babies just don’t count.

Comment by Marie Pickard

Yes, I do. And having walked away from the edge of death, I am very mindful of how temporary life is and even youth, or apparent health and conscientious medical attention when required, are no guarantees that life will continue.

There have been studies and analyses of why people today are less accepting of death than persons were in the past. Fascinating to see how we have moved from accepting death as part of the life cycle, to almost denying its existence. Also, too many people focus on the religious version of afterlife (for those religions that have one) and forget that the things we leave behind need to be attended, organized, managed, fed, mowed, or whatever.

And I value your friendship, too, very much.

Comment by ML

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