How We Die
This is a short summary of my response to my current situation, accessing my fears of dying out of control of my mind and body, but no fear of death itself.
Mrs. Kathleen Swehla: 2008
She passed away peacefully at the age of 100, surrounded by her family.
She passed away peacefully in her sleep, as the children sang her hymns.
She passed away after living life, leaving behind four generations of grands.
How good on paper looks her death, doves and angels in attendance.
The pictures we paint of painful experiences to make ourselves feel better.
It will not be a quick or easy death for me. Oxygen depleted in body and brain this year, nefariously attacked lungs by a non-covid but pernicious bacteria which went undiscovered and undiagnosed for months at home and for a month in the hospital under medical care, they flourished. The diuretics regimen administered to reduce fluid retention took down my kidneys with with my lungs. I cope daily with residual pneumonia, the balls on the spirometer moving not a tiny millimeter, neither on my inhale nor on the following exhale. I check my oxygen saturation dozens of times a day, slipping the innocuous oximeter over one of my index fingers, only to read that I am dangerously low again, and hook myself up to the portable oxygen concentrator I had to purchase because the only oxygen provider the insurance services covered was a refurbished unit three years old that the device company no longer makes. It took a month for the pulmonologist who was called in at the hospital in April to answer a call to my primary care physician and agree to send in a prescription for the device. His suggestion was to have me go back to the hospital and to take steroids again. The hosptial where, due to the discordant communication between him and the physician prescribing my insulin, I had the diabetic hypoglycemic crash which almost put me into a coma. No, thank you. I will not be dying in a hospital this time.
Everything in my body is complicated by everything that has happenend to it in the past.
This is a short summary of my mental and emotional response to my current situation, accessing my fears of dying out of control of mind and body, but no fear of death itself.
Fluid retention that has caused diminished vision and hearing continue to be a challenge. I am having some memory loss, and loss of vocabulary that may not be reversible. Mobility is quite restricted, so am in wheelchair most of my awake hours, even to go to the commode just a few feet away, and in a hospital bed at night. There is a non-medical caregiver 12 hours a day to tend to my personal needs. New medical care has been established with primary care physician, pulmonologist, nephrologist, cardiologist, retina specialist. I have had x-rays, ultrasounds and CT-scans of kidneys, heart, and lungs. Unlike the inadequate medical attention I was receiving in the past from my ex, and from Pasadena, CA physicians for the past decade, I have been seen by each of these docs twice already within a month since moving to El Paso, TX. I’m under the care of a sleep specialist and have been using a new model of the C-PAP machine. I have used it for 5 nights, and both my sleep and nightmares have noticeably improved. Endocrinologist is scheduled for this week. Home health care staff (physical therapist, occupational therapist, nurse) come weekly. My son, who was taking care of all medical, financial, and other arrangements since Christmas day, and who transported me on a 4-day slow drive from California to Texas, has gone home to NoCal for a week to rejuvenate. My daughter in El Paso has bought a home with me, in which I and her little family have been living this month. My daughter in Canada has been here for 3 weeks to help with the load her siblings are carrying. It is good to be surrounded by so much love and support. Whichever one is on call puts me to bed each night, our roles of parent and child completely reversed.
We have been laughing this week over creating a hospice bucket list (glazed donut holes and mangoes), having a virtual/zoom pre-death party in the time of covid, N’awlin style drinking and music, watching films that make me happy or meet our understanding of life/death (Defending Your Life), watching sci-fi shows to reflect the purple liquid that surrounds one pupil from a burst blood vessel in the eye that resembles an alien. Phrases and idioms the reflect our acceptance of the coming months: for example “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it”.
My 2-year old granddaughter lights up my life daily with her new discoveries and antics. My heart overflows with love for these beings who have come from my womb, and gratitude for the people who have helped and supported me through the last decade. You, my constant readers, are right there at the top of that list..
I don’t know how much longer my hands may be able to type, or my mind find the words that would express how I am experiencing this continuation of time. The finality of it is an eventual terminal prognosis, the transition that I will need to make myself.
I have been reading Japanese Death Poems this week, and have been inspired to write some of my own. I hope you find comfort in them.
May all be well with you and those who you care about. May you find compassion for yourself and joy enouth to share. May you be showered with blessings.
Blows hard the wind
down fall the leaves,
Up rises my spirit.
In the mirror
Curls along her forehead
beauty not even skin deep
body swollen, hair unkempt
her curls live in my heart.
no joy in sayonara
yet deeply happy
I depart, knowing
we will all be fine.
strung on strings
kept alive in
of warmer love.
Work through your shit!
Live a joyful life
Say a peaceful goodbye.
A Maguire Lisa Alletson Rebeca Ansar Jenny Justice antoinette nevitt Michael Stang Linda Caroll Kay Bolden Stephen M. Tomic Wild Flower Justin Deming Dennett Meg Ré Harris Tre L. Loadholt Joan Evans Farida Haque Sherry Kappel Harper Thorpe Pamela Edwards Tracy Aston Jack Herlocker Daphelba Mark Starlin Peculiar Julia Zarina Dara 🥀💃🏻 Indira Reddy Elizabeth Helmich Nicholas Petrone J.L. Littlejohn James Finn edh lamport Annie Caldwell DiAmaya Dawn