Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Decisions Decisions

We sat at the breakfast table sipping coffee (me) and tea (Sue) and going over some stuff that needed to be gone over long before the cancer reared its ugly head. Stuff you usually can ignore indefinitely -- until its too late – leaving others to curse your lack of planning and foresight.

Sue teared-up a little when we discussed the end-of-life decisions part of the advance health care directive. She’d done several of these directives years before without difficulty, but somehow when the prospect of actually having an “incurable and irreversible condition that will result in my death within a relatively short time” is real, the choice not to prolong life versus the choice to prolong life is starker. It’s like the difference between the robber you read about in the newspaper versus the robber who just woke you out of your sleep at 2 a.m. by breaking your bedroom window; the former is abstractly informational and the latter is terrifying.

We had just taken a silly on-line life-expectancy test about a month before the cancer diagnosis. I was given a life expectancy of 76 and Sue scored a whopping 93. When you’re 53 thinking you’re going to live to 93, it doesn’t seem too inconvenient to wait until you’re 60 to retire. But when you’re 53 and you don’t know if you’ll make it to 55, suddenly the ideas of working another day or saving one more dollar for “the future” seem ridiculous.

What’s really crazy is that, before the cancer, Sue couldn’t wait to retire. The day could not come soon enough. After the diagnosis and Sue had to take sick leave, about all she wanted to do was go back to work as quickly as she could. Truth be told, Sue loves her job and her kids and her co-workers. Her school friends have shown Sue an extraordinary amount of compassion and love.

I woke up one morning last week to find her weeping on the couch because two old teacher friends whom she had not seen for some time had sent her a gift card for a pedicure. Red toes or pink? Now that’s the kind of decision we want to be faced with.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I feel my heart is a little painful with your this post... I hope everything will be fine.. ^^