By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter
Photo is owned by me. The friend (Cindy) who made this for us never knew how comforting I found this light in the bottle to be. Even my photo of it … comforts me. Why? Because light chases the darkness away. I’ve been in darkness too much in my life. Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter
This is another controversial subject I’m going to write about. I’m going to tell you how I feel about it.
I respect your feelings, your way of thinking on this subject. I would never think I can tell you what to feel, think. I will let you respect my feelings, way of thinking … I couldn’t let anyone tell me that my way of thinking is wrong. How do you know? How do I know?
So, before I go on … I can see your way of thinking as well as my way of thinking. It’s just that my way of thinking ‘feels right’ to me inside my Heart. These are my feelings that are … right for me.
I have been in the position of dying … of knowing I was going to die. I know what it feels like to … know … there was no need of buying me pretty clothes … Ty Beanie Babies for my collection … no need of doing anything extra for me.
I knew I wouldn’t live to see a future. I didn’t want money wasted on me when it could be used for more important. This was my way of thinking when I so sick …
If you’ve never been to this point in life … being sick with a life-threatening illness … so close to death, I can’t expect you to understand. The only way you will be able to make such a decision as I’m going to talk about … is to go to the doorstep of Death … if you can come back from it … you can make a judgement.
I’ve been there a few times in my life. I was dying from cancer … non-Hodgkins lymphoma … the suffering, tests, the time it took to find out what was wrong with me before surgeries … took several months. Only surgery could … save my life.
After the surgery … I was told I could die before I opened my eyes to see who was telling me I had cancer. I never saw her … I never saw the oncologist that saved my life with the aggressive treatment she used … and others didn’t understand why she chose that. It worked … it damaged my heart. It was a trade-off to live. I’ll take that.
I remember I thought she was a big, tall presence. Later, months later when I began to be aware of things … I really looked at her, saw that she was tall but … not big. How did I think she was ‘big’? Because later I found out she lost a lot of weight. Strange how I perceived her … I never saw her clearly and was drugged up.
When I heard her booming voice … the nurse, Skip were sitting me up in a chair in the Intensive Care Cardiac Unit … that’s the first I remember. All I could see were tall letters in my mind when the oncologist’s voice said … C A N C E R … in giant letters.
I’ll have to describe the strange feeling, thoughts that played in my mind when I couldn’t see around me … because of the drugs given to me, the weakened state I was in. I kept thinking I could go back on the other side if only … I could go back, not have cancer.
I was dying. For some reason, I kept ‘thinking I could go back to being all right if …. ‘
I could see an invisible line … if I could just go back to the other side of it. I lay in that dark world … my mind kept trying to take me back … to the other side of that … invisible straight line. Strange I know. I’ll examine that closely one day. I’ve never taken time … why does it bother me … now?
I know now, I have lived 16 years when I shouldn’t have … not many made it. The new oncologist told me not long ago, I shouldn’t be here … 98% didn’t make it with what I had, and as sick as I was. I was at Death’s door the morning I had the first surgery to remove the huge mass off my lung … resting on my heart.
I will have to take time to sometime, think about what if anything I have done of value during the precious sixteen years I was given. I don’t think I’ve done anything so special. I should have at least been some kind of hero or something.
Anyway, dying with dignity. This is how I really feel after making it back from the Cancer Journey in my life.
I feel if I’m at the point of dying … know that I’m not going to live … laying in agony … or becoming a ‘vegetable’ … I should have the option to end my life while I’m aware. I feel I should be able to say my goodbyes if by that time … I have anyone to say goodbye to.
No one knows it … I had my option to let go of life … if I knew with certainty I was dying, no chance of living.
I knew I wasn’t going to live … I was preparing. The thing is … strange thing is … something kicked in (I do think it was that infamous fighting spirit I have :).
When it kicked in … I began seeing in my mind … the future. The future where I could see me doing things once again. It was like putting a colorful toy just out of reach … to encourage a child to learn to walk. If he wants it bad enough … well, you know the rest.
When that happened, I began forcing myself to sit up (oh God, I could never tell you the horrible pain I had in my chest … get a thoracotomy … you will always know. I had two thoracotomies exactly one year apart … I have ‘forever pain’ you wouldn’t believe).
Anyway, no matter the horrible pain … I couldn’t see straight for the powerful medicines I was given … I made my body raise up, stand up, hold onto things to walk.
I could barely walk … and go only a few steps. Tears ran down my face, I couldn’t breathe for crying … I kept doing this for many months.
I had become determined to live. I wanted to live … I wasn’t accepting death without one hell of a fight. When I did these things … I would fall into bed … in agonizing pain. No matter, I meant to get strong.
No one can ever know the agony I was in … I was alone while Skip was working as a fleet manager in a produce company. I tried to be strong when he came home so, he could go to work, know I was all right.
Not only that … if he even thought I was suffering … he would become very upset. So, many times I have to say … I fooled Skip into thinking I was so tough, strong … we have to do what we got to do.
That wasn’t a bad way to fool someone … at least in my situation. It did make me personally stronger, and I made it. It gave him comfort … he just knew I was still me … and I could do what I said.
After 3 years of fighting the toughest battle of my life … I made it in time to go with Skip to the doctor, then … oncologist … to be there when he was diagnosed with … colon cancer.
Skip had been caring for me, working his ass off … and he was … dying with colon cancer that had begun coming through his colon.
I’ll never forget what I said to him at the moment he went into shock. I said, “Skip … that must be the reason I lived … so, you could see that you can make it. I’ll take care of you just like you did me”.
I will say this … when I became aware of Skip being sick … something wrong … was during the time I was very ill. I couldn’t make decisions for myself at that time … had to hold onto things to walk. My body was in bad shape … I was on powerful medicines.
Skip came to me during that time, told me that he’d been bleeding. When he’d ‘go’ to the bathroom … the commode would be filled with blood. You know how sick I must have been when I couldn’t jump up from there … make him get to a doctor. I wanted to … but, the state of mind when one is very ill … you aren’t yourself.
One day, I raised up out of bed after Skip told me he wished I could see all the blood. I meant to see it … I knew deep down something was wrong. Skip had been suffering with terrible cramps in his legs. Ripping cramps up the inside of his legs. This had been going on for months.
I made Skip help me to go see … my knees buckled under me, he grabbed me. I began crying … I knew then … Skip had colon cancer. The damn crazy thing here is … I ‘knew’ … but, being so sick I couldn’t keep it in my mind … I couldn’t make him go to the doctor … I couldn’t help myself. Months went by …
This is what happened as time went by … I had something in my mind that ‘made me’ know I was going to get well to do. I meant for Skip to go to a doctor. I knew … he was very sick. Skip … like me … is strong … has a fighting spirit that matches mine … maybe stronger.
I know our neighbors heard me crying through the walls of our home at that time. They just didn’t know that I was beginning to force myself to do things in the house again. I had a purpose ….
I made myself hold a broom … my hands had forgotten what a broom felt like. So hard, splintery. I made myself put clothes in the washer. I began to mop … sure the area was very small … it was a beginning. I burned my hands as I stood at the stove staring at the eye on top … it was hot.
Somehow I had forgotten … like a child, I didn’t think about it burning me … isn’t that amazing? I took something out of the oven … letting my hand touch the top … I learned from that burn … not to touch hot things. Now … I knew that … but, forgot everything during my illness. I am amazed when I think back.
I began to do little things … in my mind … I could see me in my future being strong, well again. I knew I wouldn’t be letting myself die … with dignity. I knew I was going to live.
You have to know that knowing I could decide what I wanted to do … if … I was going to die … gave me comfort. I needed that comfort … I didn’t want to live not having quality of life, someone having to care for me. So, no matter what anyone thinks … that’s the way I felt … still feel. I won’t argue it with anyone.
A person who has never experienced this … can talk all they want to. Put their ass in the same situation … see what they do. It’s funny how things change when the person who talks loudest … experiences pain, agony, near death. You find out what you are made of. You find out … that your whole perspective changes on life, death. You find out … you know nothing.
So … those who run their mouth about this or that … don’t really know anything … maybe they’ll get to know firsthand … then, we can see what they think.
It’s like in my situation being a grieving mother … I lost my only child … having listened to people who ‘knew it all’ about losing a child … find out they don’t know a damn thing … they don’t know how it feels to have their own child … die. Some people … hadn’t ever had a child … go figure.
Until people can walk on those roads in life … they can only ‘guess’ at what they would do. I promise you … they won’t do all these things they so loudly say they will do when … tragedy strikes. I promise you that. It would be good if they kept their mouths shut … not make an ass of themselves.
They do not know a damn thing. Admit it … just say I think I would try to do this or that. Not ‘if my child dies I know I’ll do this, I know I’ll do that’. Like I said … you don’t know a damn thing.
I don’t even listen anymore to people … like you. It’s probably best for you to tell someone who has a weaker mind than I do … I don’t want to hear it.
Why … would I listen … to you …tell me something you’ve never had to deal with in your life? You’d be like a teacher trying to teach … never having an education … not a foot to stand on.
It’s like someone telling you how to drive … never driving in their life. It’s a whole different ballgame …
Anyway … unless one knows from experience … it would pay to tread lightly when saying things around people … who have survived trauma, tragedy … bad things in their life. You don’t want to make these people … teach you a thing or two. You really don’t have to say a thing excepting … I care, I’m so sorry.
This is some … I never said it’s all I think on the subject of death … of what I think about dying with dignity. In my case after experiencing what I have with near-death … it’s for me. I believe in it. I believe in hospice … keeping someone from suffering.
I believe in my case, my life … I would want to have a tablet to take when it came time that I knew I couldn’t come back from my illness. I can’t speak for you … only for myself.
I believe in the right to die with dignity.
Note by this Author: Photos/my thoughts on this subject are both owned, written by me … Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee/@GeeGranny on Twitter.