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This is how I want to pop my clogs.
Old 12-24-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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This is how I want to pop my clogs.

A couple of days ago DW's Uncle died, the last member of that generation. He was 92 and died within hours of being admitted to hospital. We visited him this year in June while we were staying in Cornwall (he lived in Devon) and he was exactly how we would like to be at that age - Living independently in his own house and still physically active, very witty and sharp. His wife, DW's mother's sister, had died 3 years ago but he continued to very active in their circle of friends, dancing and going away on weekend trips.

He had fallen outside a store a few months earlier and broken his hip, and when a scan was done they saw an aneursym that was life threatening. The Doc told him that he was still very fit for his age and could probably survive an op to fix it. He booked a day for the op but next day got an infected toe and had to cancel. He then did some more talking to the doc and realized that even if successful he would have weeks or even months in hospital. Since he wouldn't even have known about the aneurysm if not for the fall, he decided not to have the op after all. As he told us, "I hear that it is not a bad way to go".

My Dad, age 84, died the same way 4 years ago, still living at home, and when he was taken into hospital with a bad pain in his gut he was told that he had an aneurysm that was leaking and would burst very soon. He was offered an op with a 50/50 chance of survival but he declined, saying that he was ready to check out. At the time this decision upset my sisters who were with him but we all agree now that it was the right one. He died a few hours later. My sisters were taking turns being by his side in hospital and he asked the one that was with him to go get him another slice of toast after he'd eaten breakfast. When she returned a few minutes later the aneurysm had burst and he was dead. My only regret was that I didn't get to see him, he died just before I boarded a plane to go over.
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Old 12-24-2013, 09:14 AM   #2
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+1 My 75 yo dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer and to our knowledge was going to start chemo or radiation (I forget which one) in a couple weeks. He wasn't feeling well and went into the hospital but was supposedly returning home in a day or two. He had just been cleaned up and was sitting on the side of the bed and visiting with Mom and a couple friends who stopped by and were saying hello. Mom thought he fell asleep but the friends though differently and called the nurse. That was the end of it. Not a bad way to go IMO.

I suspect that his lung cancer was worse than he led on, but we'll never know.

When he was admitted I asked Mom if I should go down and she said no that he would be home in a day or two.

My biggest regret is not even calling because I didn't want to disturb him in the hospital and figured I would just call and talk once he got home.

I see a lot of older folks (80s/90s) who seem to have had enough and growing old is making life harder for them and they are ready to pack it in. It seems that too many have long and difficult declines and long periods of low quality of life before they pass. As for me, I'd like to get run over by a beer truck when the time comes.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:08 AM   #3
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He was 92 ... and he was exactly how we would like to be at that age - Living independently in his own house and still physically active, very witty and sharp.
Heartwarming, thanks.
My mom's father was the same until his death at 96. A very cool guy, and sharper than most of my contemporaries when in his 90s.

This sort of story reminds me that for all the times we talk about "average" or "typical" individuals, there are always plenty of folks on both ends of the curve.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:09 AM   #4
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My only regret was that I didn't get to see him, he died just before I boarded a plane to go over.
What can you? There is always a last time you see someone.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:43 AM   #5
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Being close to my late father and father-in-law in their last days and seeing what they went through, I think about this subject a lot. In the case of my late FIL, he really had no choice other than refusing food (he did not need a feeding tube). He did not receive any medical treatment that he could have denied.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:44 AM   #6
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My only regret was that I didn't get to see him, he died just before I boarded a plane to go over.
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What can you? There is always a last time you see someone.
Originally we had not planned a trip to the UK that year (our last working year), but since our 3 surviving parents were all in their 70's or 80's, even though none of them were ill, we changed our minds and spent 2 full weeks in the summer, a week with each. That turned out to be really good decision because MIL, 78, died in October, my Dad, 84, in December and then FIL, 85, in May the following year. MIL died a couple of hours before we landed but FIL lasted a full day and night after we arrived so DW was able to see him, and he seemed really pleased to see her.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:03 PM   #7
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I sure would be pleased if my kids were to write something similar about me. Thanks, Alan.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:11 PM   #8
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Good story Alan. Was this an abdominal aneurysm?

Anyone who gets out without the humiliating loneliness, loss of independence and the other negative aspects of modern "old age care" is a big winner.

Ha
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:45 PM   #9
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I have often thought that modern elder care has created a dilemma. In the old days, people did not linger for so long because there was no choice. Now, it is difficult even for the patient to deny treatment.

As I have explained here quite often, my own late father wanted to live as long as possible despite his condition, and we did what we could according to his wish. It was very tough though for me to see what he went through, and I have often told myself I would choose differently.

In the case of my late father-in-law, he was reasonably healthy in his late 80s, and when he died at the age of 93, he spent 3-4 years in physical impairment simply due to old age. He did not receive any medical treatment that he could deny, in order to die. The major thing that kept him going for so long was the care that his offsprings, my wife included, offered. Although he had to be in a nursing home, he got daily visits and was patiently spoon-fed. Left to the nursing staff, they would have to put in a feeding tube long before that, because he had trouble swallowing. I think that when I can no longer bend my elbow to scratch my nose, then cannot even swallow without choking, I would beg for letting me go. Without the care of relatives, my FIL would not last that long. He indeed outlived many of the younger residents in that nursing home.

There have been quite a few stories about elder care in Japan, a country with the most aged population. There, once a feeding tube has been inserted into a patient, no medical personnel would remove it as it was considered murder. Hence, a patient would have to deny tube feeding from start. What a dilemma!
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:54 PM   #10
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Your dad sounds like a fine man, Alan. Thanks for relating his story. I didn't get to see mine the day he died either, but we had lots of good days and times over the years and I remember that.
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Old 12-24-2013, 03:16 PM   #11
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Good story Alan. Was this an abdominal aneurysm?

Anyone who gets out without the humiliating loneliness, loss of independence and the other negative aspects of modern "old age care" is a big winner.

Ha
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Your dad sounds like a fine man, Alan. Thanks for relating his story. I didn't get to see mine the day he died either, but we had lots of good days and times over the years and I remember that.
Thanks guys. Yes, in the case of both my Dad and DW's uncle it was an abdominal aneurysm.

My grandmother died of an aneurysm as well. She was 78 and living in Australia in her own apartment, a few miles from her youngest daughter and was on the phone talking to her when she apparently cried out in pain and said "Ow, my chest", and nothing else. When my aunt went round to check on her, she found her dead in her chair.
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This is how I want to pop my clogs.
Old 12-24-2013, 04:52 PM   #12
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This is how I want to pop my clogs.

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." - John Lennon

I suspect the same could be said of death. We may have little or no say when it comes to when or where or how we die. We may not even know we are "going". It might just....... happen.
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:26 PM   #13
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We may not even know we are "going". It might just....... happen.
This seems to be the way most people prefer.

"What you do not know can't hurt you" - Idiom
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:43 PM   #14
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From one of my long ago college alumna....
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.... "Nature"

Quote:
As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:41 PM   #15
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And from a Hospice booklet:

'I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone Where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”

And that is dying.
-Henry Van Dyke.'

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Old 12-24-2013, 08:21 PM   #16
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And from a Hospice booklet:

'I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone Where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”

And that is dying.
-Henry Van Dyke.'

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That's beautiful. Here's one that also connects for me.

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion of what becomes
a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.

Rilke
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