Just Frances

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A life I value

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2013 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: widowhood, pkd, phd, itp, health, goals, fear, faith, crazy, confession

Yesterday’s post seems to have created some interesting—and unexpected—feedback, so I thought I’d take the time to talk about it some more.

It seems that one or two people think my stance is selfish and are very upset that I would say such a thing. Others seem to understand my view and have shared similar views themselves. And others don’t understand, but they seem to respect my views.

My decision to share this view wasn’t made to shock or offend anyone. It wasn’t made to elicit pity or attention. My decision to share was simply to bring to light issues that we tend to ignore until it’s too late. There are too many conversations that we don’t have until it’s too late, and I’ve decided that I want to have this conversation now—before I’m sick—so that it’s understood that I’ve thought through my choice. And maybe by sharing this difficult conversation now, it will help someone else to have the conversation with their loved ones. Or maybe it will help someone understand the decision that their loved one has already made.

I want to make it clear that I do value my life and that I do not want to die.

I have dreams and goals in this world. I want to get a PhD. I want to see my nieces and nephews get married and have children (if they chose to do so). I want to travel the world some more. I want to run a sub-5-hour marathon. I want so many wonderful things. And I aim to have as many of them as I can manage.

In my ideal world, my health will continue to remain stable and sustainable for years and years. I plan to continue eating well and exercising so that I can maintain my body for as long as possible. When the time comes that I need help maintaining my blood pressure, I will take medications. When my platelets drop, I will rest to allow my body to heal. And I will continue to avoid things that I know will lower my platelets, too.

I am not going around trying to shorten my life. I am not endangering my life. I am not planning my death.

As it stands today, my life is far from over. I hope that I am able to live for a long time without the need for major medical intervention. And I will continue to plan for my future because I know that I have one—and I know that I want one. I’m not preparing for death. I’m merely going through the responsible process of thinking about my future. My decision is no different than someone creating a living will—or a last will and testimony. It’s no different than making sure that my beneficiary information is up-to-date.

No, I don’t like my life right now at this very moment. I don’t like the way things have turned out and I am miserable. I’ve never made that a secret. But I think that I’ve made it clear that I am trying to find joy and happiness in my life. Even on the days when my hope fades, my faith remains. I don’t like my life, but I am not giving up on it. I hold out hope for finding a PhD (and the funding necessary to pay for it). I hold out hope of finding a new love. And—who knows—maybe even one day I will be blessed with the ability to adopt a child. (The last two of which would obviously mean I’d have to change my view on this issue.)

Do I value my life? Yes; very much so. And I value all of the people in my life. But I am well-aware of my medical conditions. And I am well-aware of how they play off against each other. Current treatments for one are likely to worsen the other—especially when it comes to treatments for kidney failure.

Do I value my life over that of someone else? No; I don’t believe that one life is more valuable than another. I don’t think that one person ‘deserves’ to live more than someone else. But I do believe that I would rather give the opportunity for life to someone else. And I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with that.

Also, I am well-aware that regardless of when or how I die, I will leave behind people who love me. I don’t for a moment think that my leaving this Earth will be meaningless to most of those I know. I recognise very much that my passing will cause pain. And I know first-hand what it’s like to lose someone. But, I really do believe that the people I care about will understand—or at least accept—my wishes when the time comes many, many years from now.

I realise I’m just re-hashing what I’ve already said, but I want to make it very clear that I am not out to harm myself and I am not out trying to speed up my demise. I will work hard to keep my body as healthy as possible for as long as possible. And if sharing this helps just one person as they journey through life’s difficult decisions, then it’s worth the ink. (Or the pixels, as the case may be.)

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