Saturday, March 9, 2013

Truth at the End of Life

Elaine Waples
Posted 3/5/13 on TEDMED

Elaine Waples and Her Husband, Brian Klepper
Most of us have spent some time thinking about our own deaths. We do it with a sense of dreadful curiosity, but then we push it aside with “well, we’ve all got to go sometime.”
Unlike most people, I probably know the how, the why, and maybe even the when of that event. It is profound information that turns the world upside down for us, our families, friends and caregivers.
I have cancer that is incurable, aggressive, and has negligiblesurvival odds. My chemotherapy is a long shot. I will leave a spouse, children, siblings and a life that I love and cherish. I cannot imagine existence without them.

I have read the books about stages of grief and end of life. But when all is said and done, truth is the great measure. The truth between doctor and patient when there is nothing else to be done. The truth between patient and family who want desperately to have a few more months or days and cannot. The truth between patient and friends who must accept and move on without bitterness. The truth between patient and spouse, partner, or caregiver who have waited for that moment and are helpless to change it.
Of all things, the simple act of truth has become most important to my husband and me. We talk about my dying. It is a poignant, painful and sometimes funny honesty. We have done it after solemn consults with physicians, during long hospital stays, through gut-wrenching disappointments, and sometimes over toast and coffee on Sunday mornings.
We have learned to be forthright and unafraid of saying it out loud. We deal with small moments – planning vacations, making purchases, visiting family, entertaining old friends – in a sober and reflective way. Routine plans – Christmas with the family; the vacation cottage; an annual trip – become critical decisions. We discipline ourselves to push aside the things that are trivial. It becomes easy to ignore the cracks in the driveway and the clutter in the closet.
And we occasionally treat it with laughter although, perhaps to the horror of some, it is gallows humor. We joke that when I am gone, the piano, the house, the cars will all be his. We laugh and mimic Homer Simpson, believing he is doomed, reading a pamphlet headlined, “So You’re Going To Die.” It reminds us that we are in a real world where playfulness is a part of life.
There is no bucket list. There are no plans to see the great pyramids, kiss the Blarney Stone, or throw a party in Times Square. We look to the small things we have known for decades that have become precious to us now: a walk on the beach, a Saturday matinee movie, sharing a bowl of ice cream, holding hands as we go to sleep at night.
Details – advanced directives, the will, the attorney, the broker – are easy. These will help put affairs in order but they do not address relationships with the world and the people who inhabit it.
The hard things that tug at the heart and create the pain are the unbearable truths to parents that they will lose a child; to siblings that the person they’ve known their entire lives will be gone; to children that they must overcome and move on. They convey a clear and undeniable message to doctors that they must relinquish the desire to salvage, fix and prolong.
But most of all, the truths we come to know lie in the depth and clarity of our bonds. For me, this is reflected in the conversations with my husband, the beloved person in my world. I want him to go on with life; to find someone to share it with; to help the children as they struggle with the loss; to remember the laughter and how much we loved each other. That is all I have left to give him. And for that I extract a bittersweet promise that he will make me laugh until the end, that we will hold hands every night, that we will share the ice cream, that we will always talk about what is happening, and that I will die with him beside me.
It is the dignity, the finality, and the truth at the end of life.
Elaine Waples is retired and lives in Atlantic Beach, FL.

10 comments:

  1. Elaine, Thank you for sharing your journey with such insight and grace. There has been much for me to feel and ponder. Sorry I have never met you.

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  2. This is so touching and beautiful.

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  3. My mother was just diagnosed with Primary Peritoneal stage 4. I thank you for you well spoken insight.

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  4. I decided to share this because i am so glad today and happy that i am alive to see another new day and not just that but also to share the goodnews of how i survived a deadly stage 4 cholangiocarsinoma (bile duct cancer). I was told by my oncologist that she had just 6 months left to live and i was so scared to lose my wife. I was lucky to contact Dr Mrs Aleta who i told all about it and she is the nicest person i have spoken to. She recommended a herbal medicine for her which she took that cured her in less than a month. Well for more info about the medicine and cancer treatment simply reach her on aletedwin@gmail.com she can help you too. Contact her for any form of cancer too.

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  5. ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS FOR GETTING MY WIFE OUT OF FIBROID WITH HIS HERB One of the greatest moments in this world is when you see your own wife put to bed, this awesome moments makes you a man and not just a man a real man. My wife suffered from Fibroid which made her unable to get pregnant and give us a child for almost 18 years with multiple surgeries done and none seemed to help the situation. I almost gave up but due to the love i had for her because i married her a virgin i had to find a way to help her. I told a member of my church who recommended Dr. williams to me, i contacted him and he sent me a medicine and this medicine shrinked it naturally in a weeks it was like magic but it's science. I am happy writing this because he delivered a baby girl. Do not loose hope too soon contact him on drwilliams098765@gmail.com and i am confident he will help you too.

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  6. I got married to my lovely husband for the past 7 years without conceiving and fibroid was the issue, i took different prescribed medication but could not cure it but my husband was so confident in me and kept encouraging me that one day someone would call me mother, we did not rest searching for solution from different Doctors all they could say was surgery and i was afraid of that then a friend in my office introduced me to Dr. Davismartin who sent his product to me which i took and it really worked perfectly, and my Dr. confirm me pregnant after 2 months of taken his product. i gave birth to a BABY GIRL February this year and i will named her TESTIMONY. contact him also at drdavismartin62@gmail.com.

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  7. ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS WITH HIS HERB MY WIFE WAS COMPLETELY CURED FROM FIBROID.
    Is my pleasure to comment on this site and i thank the admin of this site for his/her great work so far.one of the happiest moment in life is when you see your own wife put to bed.this awesome moments makes you a man, I really don't know how to thank DR WILLIAMS for helping my wife get cured for over how many year of suffering from FIBROID. i came across DR Williams contact through a headline news on internet about how DR Williams help a woman to get cured of his fibroid and so many other with similar body problem ,i contacted him and he told me how to get his herb,few day later he sent me the herbal portion which my wife take every morning for 21 days, and his medicine was able to shrike the fibroid naturally,and now my wife is 4months old pregnant for our second child, and now she very okay without any side effects whatsoever, If you have fibroid, you can contact him on his email address drwilliams098765@gmail.com for advice and for his product.

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  8. I GIVE ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS WITH HIS HERBAL PORTION I WAS COMPLETELY CURED FROM FIBROID
    I can’t believe this. A great testimony that i must share to all fibroid patient in the world. i never believed that their could be any complete cure for fibroid with out going for surgery ,i saw people’s testimony on blog sites and Facebook page of how Dr williams prepare herbal cure for diferent king of disease,and with the help of his herb they where able to shrink there fibroid naturally. i had to try it too and you can,t believe that in just few weeks i started using it all my pains stop gradually . Right now i want to tell you all that i just give birth to a baby boy last month,and on thin now i have not had any pain, and i have just went for text last week and the doctor confirmed that there is no trace of any fibroid in my system . Glory be to God for leading me to this great Dr williams I am so happy as i am sharing this testimony. My advice to you all who thinks that their is no herbal cure for fibroid that is Not true ,just contact him and get cure from his email drwilliams098765@gmail.com and you will be free and free forever, Try it and you will not regret it because it truly works. i hope to see your testimony soon.

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  9. ALL THANKS TO DR WILLIAMS WITH HIS HERB MY WIFE WAS COMPLETELY CURED FROM FIBROID.
    Is my pleasure to comment on this site and i thank the admin of this site for his/her great work so far.one of the happiest moment in life is when you see your own wife put to bed.this awesome moments makes you a man, I really don't know how to thank DR WILLIAMS for helping my wife get cured for over how many year of suffering from FIBROID. i came across DR Williams contact through a headline news on internet about how DR Williams help a woman to get cured of his fibroid and so many other with similar body problem ,i contacted him and he told me how to get his herb,few day later he sent me the herbal portion which my wife take every morning for 21 days, and his medicine was able to shrike the fibroid naturally,and now my wife is 4months old pregnant for our second child, and now she very okay without any side effects whatsoever, If you have fibroid, you can contact him on his email address drwilliams098675@gmail.com for advice and for his product.

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  10. "Dear dr williams, your herb has saved my life and my sanity. I was scared, and had been seeing numerous specialists and almost all of the straight away told me I had to remove my uterus because of my large fibroid. Can you believe this? To top it all up, none of those doctors had answered my simple questions on the subject. I was so scared that I would not be able to have a baby as surgery seemed like the only choice then. Your product had dramatically allayed my fears. I have read many other guides on the subject of fibroids and i think dr williams herb is yours offers and the only true and lasting solution to fibroid. I am a walking living proof of that claim. It has been 3 months since I implemented dr williams herbal portion, and I am now completely clear of fibroids and I am sure I am on my way to become a mother. I also feel very healthy and vibrant. Thank god for your work and support dr williams, for more information about his herb you can also contact his email address drwilliams098675@gmail.com

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