Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Talk of Death


I just returned from visiting with my parents and aunt. I take the two hour drive every other weekend, as I know that my folks, and their generation of family members, won't be around forever. Of course none of us will be around forever, will we? It's just that my parents are in their late 70's, and with many health problems. My aunt is in the final stage of her cancer, and I'm all too aware of how precious time becomes when you know someone is leaving sooner rather than later.

Each time I take this trip, my car is loaded with my kids, my daughter's boyfriend, and on a few occasions, Abel, my new boyfriend. Today's trip felt quite intense. We visited with my folks first, then had them join us for a visit with my aunt. While at the visit my cousins were sharing with me that my aunt has chosen to end her chemotherapy. She has decided that her last days will be healthier and happier days without the misery that chemo can bring. It was kind of a sobering occasion.

On the long drive home Abel and I had a long conversation about health, death and aging. We talked about the various diseases that have affected our family's of origin, and how illness and death have touched each of our lives. At one point there was a pause, and Abel turned to me to ask, have you had a physical lately?

Funny timing. I do have a physical scheduled for this Monday. My health is definitely not something I take for granted. Although my kids are now teenagers, and young adults, I know that they still need me. I know that I still have much more parenting to do, and want to be sure that I am around for a long time. Remember, I will become a grandfather in less than two months. Last time that I met with my doctor, he told me that he was concerned about my blood pressure. It has always been borderline high, but now it is looking problematic. He reviewed my medical chart, and asked how long I have been on my anti-depressant.

Too long.

Like Janine, I have struggled with depression for many years. My depression has not been helped by the mental health problems that my two sons suffer from, nor has it been aided by the death of my husband. In the past two years I have tried twice to go off my medication, each time without much success. I usually do well for a couple months, then find myself sinking deeper and deeper.

I told my doctor that while I was not sure about going completely off the medication, I preferred to try going off the anti-depressant rather than adding another medication for high blood pressure. I'm worried, because I'm not sure I am making the right decision, but once again I feel that it is worth a try. I suppose that if there was an optimum time to try it would be when I am happily in a new relationship and looking forward to the arrival of new life. Is that enough? Is anything enough?

All I know is that I do feel a deep sense of responsibility to not die. Well, just not right now at least. One pill? Two pills? I will make that decision on Monday. Suddenly I have someone holding my hand, reminding me that he is quite invested in my being around for quite some time.


  1. hello sweetheart. Will be thinking of you for your appointment.

  2. you do what the doctor tells you. i always ask, "what would you tell your child to take, or do?" i take 4 pills every morning and 2 at night. i think long and hard about everything i eat and drink. it is not how i'd like to live my life but it is what i must do to live my life.

    we need you, Dan. i need you. just need to know someone of your grace and kindness and decency is out there in the world. take care of yourself. do what you need to do. ask questions. get second opinions if you need to, but do what needs to be done. it will be alright. swallowing a couple of pills is nothing. you are necessary.


  3. Physical health is only part of it, your mental health is so important too. Going off the anti-depressant might be better for physical health but if that affects your mental health too much, it almost seems counterintuintive.
    I'm fairly new to reading your blog and I hadn't yet seen you were about to become a grandparent, so wanted to offer my congratulations for that, babies are always awesome!

  4. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?



  5. My father passed away from cancer a few years ago. The silly thing was that it was from something that he could have prevented, but the doctors letter informing him of a polyp in his colon went ignored on his desk in a pile of papers until it was too late. Prayers be with you.