Monday, June 21, 2010

End of Life Care

Today has been a strange day. Quiet, introspective. You know, pseudo-deep (my specialty, really). I sat at my desk at work immobilized for a good hour after reading a New York Times story on the tragedy of too much medicine intertwined with end of life care. The article is heart-breaking and since everyone was at lunch, or in a meeting, I let myself cry in my cubicle. I then emailed Matt and said “Let’s talk about this evening; thought this would be a good catalyst for a discussion on living wills”. Who wants to come over to our house tonight?!
Matt and I have discussed such things in only vague terms, the way any 28-year-old would do. We both have the same outlook: if our functioning is so impaired we rely on a machine, then, please, end it. But there’s a lot of grey there, and what if there is no machine? Both Matt and I are dubious of any sort of afterlife, but I told him if there was, and he left me become a shell of who I once was, I was going to find him in this afterlife and bitch slap him. I ended with, “And you KNOW I’ll find you.” To that he replied he’ll pull the plug at the first chance he got. (I also gave him dating advice as a would-be widower: “When I’m gone I want you to date other women. Find a nice nerdy woman who will throat-sing with you. Grieve for a good year and immerse yourself in projects the second year, and then start dating. Anything before that would be tacky, and I don’t want people to think you got over me quickly. But on a show if you have to. Oh, and I want you to love her, but let her know who came first in this scenario, ya hear me?” He replied he’ll never find someone he’d love as much as me (I’m sure just trying to score kudo points). To this I said, “Don’t be stupid”.)
Anyway, I hope my, uh, “colorful” commentary doesn’t take away from the seriousness (and beautiful writing) in the author Katy Butler's piece. It makes me even more fearful of aging, and having the ability to die with dignity. (It also puts the fear of getting wrinkles into perspective.)


  1. Knowing none of my friends would be at the gym this morning, I grabbed the Sunday NY Times Magazine on my way out. Thumbing through it as I toiled away on the treadmill, I was drawn to an article about a dying parent. I was spellbound as I read, and when I finished I studied the accompanying picture of the author. Reading the name Katy Butler, I realized it was the same article which Kathryn had recommended in this post. It was so powerful and required reading for anyone who values the quality of life over it's length.

  2. Cyndy,

    Excactly: thank you for putting it better than I could.

    To any readers: Ignore my silliness; it's really a powerful and important read.