In the never ending search for blog topics, I find myself listening, reading and talking with the hope that something I see or hear will stand out as an interesting point to try and share. This week Cindy suggested she had heard something in my music from a song entitled Traces Exist, which has inspired me to write about an idea that the line “struggle to exist” triggered.
We all face certain responsibilities in life that are actually mandated to us from laws beyond those of conscience, ethics and morals. We all must pay tax on income. We must purchase car insurance if we choose to obtain an active driver’s license. We are even asked to obtain health insurance with the prospect of being fined if we are caught without. What struck me today was that there seems to be no responsibility designated to anyone to have advanced care and end of life discussions, despite the growing concern for costs related to the care given during aggressive or prolonged end-of-life care. There are often no improved condition parameters or attainable goals set forth which govern the extent to which treatments for prolonged illness proceed. Hoping for more time when faced with the end of life appears to be the focus without regard for quality of life, cost considerations, or relief from symptoms. Is length of time really all that matters?
Perhaps the questions are too difficult to process, the answers to varied, complicated or vague to comprehend. Humanity simply survives. But more than once in my career I have heard people say “We treat our animals better.” There is no guarantee that treatments, procedures and new advancements in technology and medicine will ever eradicate the immediate needs of the person faced with the already weakening muscles, disrupted digestion, and pain-deprived sleep. The impact of the finality of death affects everyone involved. From physicians to families of the patients, all feel the pressure to apply the best state-of-the-art processes to prolong life and “beat” death. But we cannot ultimately win. And so we “struggle to exist” in a state of suspended hope that a miracle will occur and maybe this next pill, next surgery, or next infusion will be the one that wins the fight. And I do know that miracles can and do happen – sometimes.
Caring Choices also hopes for the miracles that relieve the struggling of those faced with declining health no matter what the cause: natural aging, disease, or trauma. The final outcome for all of us is going to be the same. How we prepare for this is not going to become “mandatory”. You will not be fined if you do not talk about death. You will not be bothered at all by anyone. You will likely never even be asked how you feel about your own death until the reality of it is in your face. And as we all age that face becomes more familiar, and it takes on the shape of our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Sooner or later it will be in your mirror. What will you say to your reflection then? Will you be prepared? Will you have peace and comfort as your priority? Or, will you struggle to exist?
© 2015 Caring Choices