A Good Man Gone

My brother, Jim Reaugh, died July 12, 2013, with dignity and grace.  For 3 weeks before he died, he drove himself to the hospital for radiation. He was hospitalized on July 5 for extreme shortness of breath. A day later, they began treating him for heart arrhythmia.  When transferred to the ICU he said he wanted to be DNR–do not resuscitate.  He said no to any further treatment, including chemotherapy. He was very clear that he was ready to go.  He transferred to a Hospice facility a couple of days before he died.  The staff there kept him as comfortable as possible.  My husband and I were with him through that last week and as he died.

Jim was a fiercely independent, gentle soul.  He DID NOT want to need help of any kind.  He lived alone, had no wife or kids. He did hard physical work for over 20 years.  He still had friends from high school and others he got to know later.  He didn’t share much about his illness with anyone.  We didn’t know the extent of it until he went to Hospice.  It was in his brain, his lungs, the cavity around the lungs and most of the bones in his body.  It’s hard to imagine the pain he lived with the last month of his life.  He was strong and stubborn.

He told me he was afraid after he was admitted to the hospital.  We all knew the likely progression of his illness thanks to the internet. It would be bad and probably fatal.  After the DNR decision, I never saw anger and I never saw fear.  He seemed to be at peace.

He died on his terms and when he decided to go. I am so grateful for Hospice’s assistance.

I admire his courage.

I am proud to be his sister.

Advertisements
Published in: on August 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm  Comments (21)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Living Beyond the Warranty

Last week I wrote about my ailing computer.  It ran really slow and I was afraid it had early-onset dementia and would lose its memory.  Which contains a lot of my memory.

My computer and I are reunited.  It has a new hard drive.  Its memory is intact.  Now I can’t connect to iTunes. I need to connect to sync my iPhone calendar to my iCal (calendar) on my computer.  (That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?)

I see a pattern.  I increasingly rely on my tech-toys to back up my memory.  I’m okay with that. Really, it’s kind of cool.

Now I need a new hard drive for my body.  I celebrated my 60th birthday in March.  And, as a cancer survivor, I am grateful for every day.  However.  My parts are wearing out and beyond the warranty.  I don’t think I have enough time left to replace them one by one.

After 25 years of rheumatoid arthritis, I have artificial joints in my knuckles on one hand and a left knee replacement.  I set off the metal detector the last time I flew.  No one cared about my official card from DePuy describing my titanium knee.  I had to go into the total-body scanner.  On the inside I giggled about the poor guy in some little room who had to look at my body unfiltered by clothes.

I miss being independent.  My damaged hands frustrate me daily.  Now I’m anemic and so I have limited energy each day.  I choose my activities carefully.  I drive myself around town and go most anyplace I want, but I get tired and I feel very vulnerable in parking lots.

I want to replace everything at once.  A new hard drive rejuvenated my computer without losing any memory.  A rejuvenated Robin with intact memories and no loss of hard-won wisdom?  Perfect.

What would I do?

I’d pick up each grandchild with no fear of dropping or hurting them.

I’d swim laps without hanging on the wall to catch my breath.

I’d get on an airplane and fly to NYC or Paris.  Alone.

I’d clean my house all by myself.  (maybe!)

Or I could just accept the body I have and be grateful for medical science and my own determination and resilience.

I could find joy in each day and learn to ask for the help I need when I need it.

And pray.