I’ve been sleeping lots since I got back from hospital. If there’s one thing guaranteed about a stay in hospital it will be that sleep will be hard to come by. I’m doing well. Obviously not back to fighting fit but drove the car today and have had a short stroll with the dog. Painkillers are taken by the clock rather than by the body. I’m coming out the other side for sure.
I was going to write some amusing anecdotes about medical students, catheters, members of the royal family, but I can’t bring myself to.
I have a far more important if far less jolly story to tell. I’ve tried to touch on this idea before, when I spoke about the people in my life who had been taken by cancer. It’s one of the biggest topics of all. It’s death.
I’ve never seen a dead human body, nor have I ever seen someone die. I’ve held pets as they were put down and I’ve dug graves for them but humans, no. I doubt many of us have. I refused to go and see my Dad’s dead body because I didn’t see the point.
The lady who arrived in the bed next to me on Saturday morning was an elderly lady. 92. I know her name but it’s not for me to share here. She had broken her hip with a fall 6 weeks previously, and had a hip replacement done. She hadn’t left hospital since. She was still pretty chipper, lucid, and although a little deaf, was able to hold a conversation. Her condition worsened dramatically, she had a bad chest infection (pneumonia) and was on IV antibiotics and oxygen.
She was terrified, and called out in the night ‘I’m so frightened’ ‘which way should I go?’ ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘I know I’m going to die’
In the early hours of Monday morning I think she did ‘die’ because hoardes of nurses came running, lots of noise, commotion and she was alive at Breakfast. I lay on my bed, just metres away from her debating if I should get out, go over to her and hold her hand.
In the morning she was moved to a side room, I guess to die in peace. She did not have one visitor all the time I was there.
During my pre op appointment I think I unsettled my consultant. My argument was that if I could of been guaranteed a 15 year delay before getting vaginal cancer I wouldn’t have the op. ‘Because we are all going to die one day?’ His face looked as if this was news to him and I carried on with ‘yes, even you’
There are these amazing doctors, surgeons, nurses, saving life or preventing death every day. But have we gone too far? Death is ineviatable for all of us. I’d like to be able to choose a good death.
We all have the power to choose a good life.