Monday, November 9, 2009

I have found my limit

I have posted a lot lately, trying to remind everyone of the brevity of life. I have tried to inspire everyone to do things now, enjoy life, take risks, and have fun because life is short. I’ve tried to show that you can do things you want to do. I have now discovered that I too have a line, which once reached, I give up and say “I can’t do that.” Apparently my line is a terminal diagnosis.

It’s a bizarre feeling, to know that your end is near, that you are being robbed of decades, that the thing that will kill you is already living and working inside you, and yet have no idea how it will play out, when it will come, how it will come, or how functional you will be. It has certainly given me a lot to think about over the past week.

For the past few days I have been thinking that I would soon need to make the decision that trumps all others: how to spend the rest of my life. The reality started to strike me, that the “rest of my life” isn’t as vague and seemingly infinite as it was a week ago.

I considered lots of possibilities, and ways I could choose to spend the remainder of my life. I came up with three scenarios:

1. Status quo: I do whatever the doctors say to prolong my life as long as possible, while continuing to work as long as I physically can. I spend as much time with family, especially Joss and James, and try to take an occasional vacation between chemo and hurling until I am too bogged down by sickness and oxygen tanks, and then eventually become hospitalized, hopefully not for too long, and hopefully without much suffering, until I move on to hopefully be with my Mom.

2. Just be with family: Finish this round of chemo, see what the scans say, and based on that, determine when to start traveling between Maine, NC and Florida spending lots of time with my family.

3. Go out with a bang: Finish this round of chemo, see what the scans say, and based on that determine when to take off to Europe. I’ve started feeling a strong yearning to return. A sadness even, that I am no longer there. This is not necessarily a specific desire just to be in Europe, but also and more so a longing to return to the place I was mentally while there. The complete freedom, lack of responsibility, and sense of newness, adventure and beauty in everything. Had I been born rich instead of beautiful, I would go back and spend at very least, another month there, mostly sitting on the beach and picking out little rocks. If I could do anything right now, I’d give anything to be there.

These are a few of the choices I thought I had, and have been thinking about, along with the basic question of quantity vs. quality. Should I do everything I can to extend my life as long as possible? What would the point of that be, though, if I were suffering for much of it? Having cancer in my lungs, my doctor informed me, could mean an oxygen tank in my future. We did not discuss what the effects of the liver tumors could cause, but I’m sure it would not be pleasant. Then there is the possibility of developing tumors in other organs. There will also be many rounds of chemo, along with its side effects. Is it worth living an extra year, if I spend that year puking, suffering, and feeling like a burden to my family? Is it better to live less time but enjoy that time more? Is it fair to my daughter and grandbaby to choose quality? Is it even fair to my purpose of being here, whatever that may be, to choose to shorten my time for my own enjoyment, or ease of discomfort?

While trying to mentally work all these things out, I realized I really don’t have choices at all. I have a house to pay for, and now a new debt from my trip, as well as taxes and all that good stuff. Sure, I could sell everything and live carelessly, but what if I live longer than anticipated? And I certainly want to leave Jocilyn with as much as I can – at very least, a house. Not only could I never even consider leaving my job, but I will need to do whatever necessary to keep it as I get sicker, because I am dependant not only on the income, but equally on the medical insurance. While I would undoubtedly be trying to inspire a person in my shoes to live their dream, do whatever they wanted, not feel held back by anything, and convince them that the details will work themselves out, I, on this side of the situation, resign myself to the fact that this choice is made for me. I am actually surprised to learn this about myself, and in a way it ties in with self discoveries of my Europe trip. I’m disappointed in myself, and would work on it if I had more time to. At least I recognize my limitations, and can accept them. Maybe my outlook will change as my journey progresses. Maybe I’ll start playing the lottery...winning that would certainly change my outlook. Maybe I’ll just live out my life like it is. Things could be a LOT worse!

I promise to go back to funny and adventurous posts soon.  And pictures!  Really!  Check back.

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