Sunday, April 13, 2014

Choosing to die?

I started this post long ago, but then replaced it with this one, for fear I would end up locked away on suicide watch. But the thoughts that originally prompted me to pursue this dialog are still rattling around, and I continue to feel a certain compulsion to get them on 'paper'.

I suppose I have been more aware of my mortality since becoming ill, and with recent changes in health care cost... well, let me just get started and see if I can untangle it. Be warned this will likely be extra rambly.

I don't recall ever being afraid of death. It just doesn't scare me. It is a transition. Not much different than graduating high school. Just another step. At funerals, I don't cry because I feel any personal loss, I cry because I feel sad for those who do feel loss. Am I weird?

I am not particularly afraid of dying (not anxious to get there, just not especially afraid). I am allergic to pain. I am no fan of discomfort. When I was in high school I had planned it all out; I was going to become an air force pilot, because I figured I would probably end up going out in an abrupt fireball during an intense dogfight somewhere around the age of 40.

I am afraid of old age, of losing my vision, my ability to walk, or use my hands, or to control my mind (or my bowels. eeew! I so dread the thought of doing that to some poor little nurse!).

But even more, I fear becoming helpless. I dread the thought of becoming a burden to my children. It terrifies me to think of them losing out on their dreams because they are caring for my sorry carcass. I dread using up any potential inheritance, college assistance, etc... on expensive medical bills for myself, and preventing them from opportunities to excel.

At some level, I sort of understand that is kind of how it all works, Kids start out helpless, and are cared for, reared, nurtured by their parents, then as the years take their toll, the children, now grown, and self sustaining, care for their venerable progenitors in their waning years. Circle of life and all that.

And I suppose I am a bit of a hypocrite. I would happily care for my parents in any way I am able. I wish I could do more than I do now... But I don't accede to my self the same standard of care. I'm not quite sure why that is. Perhaps I don't see myself as deserving that level of veneration - I haven't earned that. Maybe everyone feels like this...

I think perhaps the current state of things contributes the my thought process. We are much better today at keeping people alive. People are living longer than ever before. In my specific instance there is no statistical reduction in life expectancy for those diagnosed with Crohn's. Typically for the worst case they just pull your guts out, and you keep on going.

Couple that with a declining population growth rate, and you have a state of more people in need of care then ever, with fewer people to shoulder that burden.

I don't want my children to be forced to poverty just because my generation invested their vital years in self-interest, and their later years trying to prolong their worthless lives (Do I have an overly negative opinion of my generation? Dunno, The prior generation worked hard, rationed almost everything, built infrastructure... They sacrificed so much to build wealth, my generation - at least through my potentially jaded goggles - wasted all that on "free love", "short term gains", "greed is good", and "sticking it to 'the man'".).

Now don't misunderstand. I am not looking to exit my life early. I want to live to see my kids grow up, I want to hold their babies. I want to leave some sort of legacy. I read this tribute to a girl named Summer a while back. Yeah, I'd like to manage to live long enough, that I can sufficiently improve myself to the point that someone would want to write something even half that nice about me (That could take a while, I'm not nearly as pleasant or socially not-stupid as she sounds).

But I am rambling all over the place, and not really getting to the thought I intended to address. Let me try again.

The point is, given current advances in medical technology, there is a fair chance that at some point in the future at which you will have to choose to die. we already have machinery which can breath for you, recycle your blood, replace your heart, kidneys...

There are already occasional cases involving people battling to keep someone on, or take them off life support. Cases where the person can't speak their mind on the subject due to being in a coma. Where is the line between death and Murder/Suicide in such a case? Can any rational line be drawn? Are their any kind of markers that can establish at least a reference point for making such a decision?

And then moving down a bit what if you have to take a medication to stay alive, and you decide to stop taking it? Or what if there is a particular something that you enjoy, and you know that it is going to kill you (examples, cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption, foods that have been removed from your diet is you are a diabetic,...)?

Perhaps there are not good answers. Perhaps there never will be. Guess for now I will just do what I can to build up as much credit as possible, and hope I don't burn through all of it pooping my pants and drooling all over myself..

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