Lessons From Hell
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09-10-2015, 01:15 PM
Lessons From Hell
Below is an email I sent last night to a friend. Its prose is not smooth but I was tired. I place it here because I think its lessons worth sharing, recognizing that for many, these lessons aren't really all that new, but worth repetition, because I don't think we've yet fully taken them to heart. For me, at age 60, these lessons were new.

Hi Ena -

Back from Reno at last, after 9 straight days of a grueling hell, not so much for me as for my dad, whose tenure in this hell was 21 days. He is in repose at last, in hospice, all the tubes and probes of modern medical science removed and morphine administered by hand from now on until the end, some few remaining days away. By good luck we kids were able to pack mom up to see him, her own mobility restored enough via wheelchair; she and dad had been treated two hundred miles apart from each other and her last sight of him had been the day of the accident. They've been married 61 years.

Dad had his 93rd birthday Sep 29, in his hospital room, tethered and pinioned and bandaged and hoping to get well. A few days earlier my sister and I made up a party banner and had our picture taken holding it and got it framed for his hospital room. When we presented it to him I'm not sure he had enough presence of mind to comprehend it. My sister in Maryland sent a bouquet. He never recognized it for what it was.

Our modern age has carried us across a terrifying threshold we are only just beginning to grasp the repercussions of. Our advances in hygiene and diet and routine medical care now carry us effortlessly 60 years beyond our genetically programmed 30 year lifespans. And when the end comes, it's often a prolonged passage through a hell of our own devising - not an intentional hell, but the product of what modern medicine is, at its core. Modern medicine starts with the original affliction and very slightly and very specifically makes it worse. Modern medicine inflicts additional injury in just the right way so that as it heals the original affliction heals along with it in a manner far superior to what nature unassisted would accomplish.

But the rub is that it inflicts further injury, however slight. And to overcome it requires stamina.

At age 93 my nominally healthy father had little stamina. At age 93 every human being who's ever reached that age has little stamina. A trauma that a 20 year old would shake off in a week will put a 93 year old into a 21 day hell with no exit but the final exit. In my father's case, the curve of respiratory healing was long and flat and slow; the stamina curve short and steep, the two curves had no intersecting point. My father's diaphragm fatigued to where the only recourse was attach him to a breathing machine for the rest of his life, with a permanent painful excruciating cough, or take him out the only exit that would stop the torture. For 21 days he couldn't eat or drink, for risk of choking; he couldn't move on his own without searing pain in his back and chest (and his legs were too weak to support himself), and pain medication submerged his presence of mind and kept him from making short term memories enough to stay oriented.

The lessons are twofold.

First, the farther behind we leave age 30 the more precarious our landscape. Bumps and scrapes and bruises have increased severity solely because every attained year relentlessly shortens and steepens our stamina curve - and the healing curve lengthens and flattens beyond the reach of the stamina curve.

Second, we should start thinking of medicine less in terms of repair and more in terms of greatest quality of life. This last is most important, because the repair is hell, and I think for many that journey should be very consciously considered by every mind involved before getting into a chasm where even the last exit will be one of pain.
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10-10-2015, 07:50 PM
RE: Lessons From Hell
I am sorry to hear of what your family is going through.

Your words are deeply meaningful.

My heart goes out to you and yours.

See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. -JF
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10-10-2015, 09:56 PM
RE: Lessons From Hell
I've never been to Reno but it does sound like hell.

My dad is one month older than yours. He's also suffering from the benefits of modern medicine ... and delighting in them too. Whenever we talk, he talks about the wonderful (and free) health care service he (and my mother too) is receiving. But each time, their deterioration seems exponential.

I'm left wondering "why bother?". I know the answer to that question so I don't ask it out loud. And obviously, when my time approaches, my response would be different to theirs (my parents).

Sorry, I don't think I'm adding anything to the discussion here ... just saying that those two 'lessons' are on my mind too, and a lot, lately.

Chin up, bro.

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10-10-2015, 10:38 PM
RE: Lessons From Hell

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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10-10-2015, 11:17 PM
RE: Lessons From Hell
I found that hard to read. I am sorry you are going through all this. I saw a lot of people die recently from a disease I carry. Not fun. I also watched my mother die of MS age 63 after spending a decade giving her care 24/7 while trying to live a life.

Modern medicine is keeping me alive. I should have died Nov 2014, then nearly died twice during 15. You are right in that it hurts us, to this I can attest. I still suffer the ravages of the immensely strong chemo I had that wrecked many of my body's nerves. Yet here I am. Posting in response to your heart wrenching situation to which I feel a very close affinity. And yes much of the healing was Hell. They actually gave up on me twice. It hurt like all buggery, but I survived.

I asked many questions of my poor doctors and the answer I heard most was "We don't know." I could tell it hurt them and could see how strongly they wished they did know. Sadly we are not there yet. But as modern science advances, provided it is not held back by Medievalists, we may just get there. And the pain suffered by others won't be as harsh as some have gone through.

My thoughts are with you. I mean this sincerely.
Yours. Dale

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
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