Last week, I failed to skip grief’s anger stage. Today, to reinforce our moving between the stages of grief in a nonlinear fashion, I reintroduce shock. You might want to sit down. I am.
Do you remember a few months back when I told you I had a year or so to live? (How could you forget, since I’ve reminded you regularly in subsequent posts.) I genuinely thought this news was the hardest I would ever receive, but I was wrong.
First, I should confess that I have not been well of late. I’ve been exhausted and weak (the couch has been craving, but not getting, alone time), and my appetite has been low. I’ve also developed a chronic low-grade fever and night sweats. I knew something had shifted; I just didn’t know what.
During yesterday’s visit with Dr. Blood Lite, I learned that my illness is progressing at a much faster pace than he anticipated. Despite recent transfusions, my blood counts are on a downward spiral. My bone marrow has apparently reached the point where it is no longer producing blood cells.
The short-term solution to this problem is weekly transfusions. Over the next while, I will be spending one day per week at the cancer centre receiving other people’s blood. If you haven’t yet donated blood but are eligible to do so, I really need you now. If you can’t donate, bully a friend into it, would you? Transfusions are truly a matter of life and death for me.
But–and there is always a “but”–transfusions will only sustain me for so long. At some point, my blood counts will drop so low despite those transfusions that there will no point continuing them. Once they end, I will die. I don’t know how long that will take, but it will happen.
Because I am a seeker of the truth, I questioned the timeline I’d initially been given. Dr. B.L. concurred that it was unlikely I would survive the year, and suggested that perhaps I would live until the summer. That’s not very long.
When I thought I had a year, I could get my head around dying. I figured by the time the year (and I) ended, I’d be ready. I wasn’t expecting this curveball. I will admit I’m not coping as well with my shortened life span. I have less time to prepare myself, and I have so much left to do.
There are some difficult matters to be addressed, now sooner rather than later. J. and I are talking about where and how I want to die and then, even harder, how I want to be put to rest (even I appreciate the odd euphemism). I have placed my end-of-life wishes on file at the hospital, and set up a meeting with the home-care team that will assist my transition to a hospice if I choose that route. J. and I are also meeting with the kind local rabbi who, despite my not being a temple member, will conduct my funeral.
Shock isn’t a bad thing; it buffers the worst blows, except at 3 a.m., when it is MIA, leaving panic it its wake. Why isn’t panic one of the stages? Maybe grief staging is due for a revamp….