I said in this post that one of the biggest downsides to doing hospice work is that you lose the bliss of ignorance. I have a friend who is currently learning this the hard way. Her father has cancer and when the doctor speaks she hears one thing while the rest of the family hears another. To most, “radiation could shrink the tumor” means “there’s still hope”. To a hospice worker, “radiation could shrink the tumor” means “we may be able to buy time, but, without a miracle, you won’t win the fight”. She knows all to well what will happen next, and the rest of her family is blissfully ignorant of what lies ahead. There are times when not knowing helps.
This brings me to “the list”. As someone who has seen many people go through their final days on earth, I have developed a list of the things from which I don’t want to die. I am 100% against euthanasia until I picture myself with something on the list, and then I start to wonder if I wouldn’t want to kill myself before I entered the late stages of the disease. I don’t know what I would do, but having had the veil lifted on what the last stage of those illnesses on my list are like for both patients and their loved ones I wonder.
I will not ever publish the list, because my doing so may lift the veil for those who are suffering from my most feared illnesses. My wife knows and much of my staff knows because we have stood together while watching something that is horrifying and heartbreaking for anyone no matter how professional. This post isn’t about what is on the list.
There is an old country song that says, “I’m not afraid of dying, just the thought of being dead.” I feel just the opposite. I believe deeply in heaven, and look forward to it. Unfortunately, I know better than most what options I have in making that transition, and truly fear those three that top my list. Kenny Rogers was right when he sang, in another old country song, “the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”
Sorry for depressing you today, but it is a hospice blog, so at times we must deal very honestly with death.