When the Cost of Living Becomes Too Great

This weekend was the weekend from hell. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced sustained pain of this magnitude. It was so bad Saturday night that, although I thought it might be a good idea to go to the ER at 1 a.m., I just couldn’t imagine getting to the car. My best odds were in lying perfectly still and popping one of those leftover opiates from my surgery. All of this came on the heels of a really bad Friday night and a couple other horrendous days over the past two weeks.

In the overall scheme of things, it’s nothing. And, indeed, the pain since Saturday night has been bearable.

I’m not worried about it, although I have to admit it’s a royal pain in the ass. It’s hard to focus and get things done when you’re battling this kind of thing. I suppose I’m too easily distracted.

The episode did spur me to remember there was something I wanted to tell you, Vera, that I hadn’t gotten around to sharing yet. As will be obvious, this is a message for when you’re an adult (as if all the other posts aren’t).

I know this is difficult for some people to accept, but here it is: There are limits to what I would do to extend my life, and there are steps I might take to end my life on my own terms.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting my current ailment is life threatening or would precipitate any action. It’s not. I’m thinking ahead. Well down the road. When I’m old (an age that mysteriously keeps getting pushed further into the future).

I think I have a rather high pain threshold, and I could live with a certain amount of pain. But I don’t think I could live with severe daily pain, mainly because it would prevent me from living and doing any of the things that bring me joy. In my mind, living entails more than breathing. Perhaps I’m being greedy. Whatever.

Moreover, I have no desire to live through a hideous, painful death if I can help it. I watched my father (your great-granddad) go through such a death as cancer destroyed his body. It was terrible. If given the opportunity to avoid that fate, I’d seize it, even at the cost of a shorter life. So don’t be surprised if the time comes when I move to Oregon or Vermont (although I hope that’s a long way off!).

I also have no desire to be institutionalized. A couple of years ago your grandmother and I applied for long-term care insurance. Both of us qualified (physically and mentally), which was good news. We purchased a policy for your grandmother. I passed.

The reason is simple: I would be miserable sitting or lying in one of the facilities. If that were to happen, I’d feel as though the cost of living was simply too high.

Your grandmother points out I may not have a choice. She’s right. I easily could have ended up in such predicament as a result of my recent accident. I asked her, if that were to happen, to suffocate me. She declined. I have to come up with a Plan B.

I understand the human instinct for survival. I get it. And I’d never judge anyone who tried to squeeze out one more day, hour or breath, regardless of the cost or situation.

All I’m asking is that, if it ever comes to this, please respect my decision. Don’t expect me to continue on when the cost of living becomes too great in my judgment.

Frankly, I’m hoping that day never comes. But it might. If it does, don’t feel like a tragedy occurred, and don’t rationalize it away by saying he must not have been thinking clearly or was depressed. That would be insulting to me. And condescending and disrespectful.

More importantly, don’t worry about me. Ever. Now or in the future. And never fret over any decision I might make even if it’s different from the decision you’d make for yourself in the same or similar circumstance.

If you ever want to do something for me, just go about living your life to the fullest. Even at this early age, you have an unusual zest for life, Vera. It’s infectious. Share it with the world!

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