Thursday, March 25, 2010

Awakened to the Night of the Living

I've spent one day a week for the past six weeks at a nursing home facility in the city. It's been... interesting. It's certainly raised a lot of issues for my own life in terms of what I'd like my end of life care to be like and the fact that I need to sit my parents down and talk to them realistically about what they'd like done.

Somehow I don't think my mother's "If you're thinking of putting me in a nursing home just tie me to a tree instead," is going to work as well as she thinks.

How do you even broach a conversation like that though?

Mom, Dad, hey, let's talk about what you'd like while you're dying.

I'm so in denial about that even being a possibility. I mean, they're my parents. My PARENTS. They're such a constant. A constant source of bickering, passive aggression, angst and grudges? Sure, but... they're my parents.

Today I was speaking to a patient who has had an incredible life. He was a former show business guy and has met some of the most prominent figures throughout the industry from Billie Holiday to Michael Jackson. But now he's in a nursing home. And he's not leaving until he dies.

How does one even begin to reconcile that kind of life change? I mean, I even wrote "has had an incredible life." Like it's already over.

He told me he's just a zombie. "You know, a zombie. The living dead. I just haven't stopped breathing yet."

Scarier than the prospect of such a ghoulish image was the fact that I couldn't disagree. Scarier still?

He's somebody's parent.

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