Thursday, March 13, 2008

What To Expect

When I was pregnant with Josie, I read every baby book on the market, starting with the mother of all baby books (sorry about the pun), "What To Expect When You're Expecting".

I think somebody ought to write a book, "What To Expect When You're Expecting... To Die". I'd like to have some idea of what I'm facing. I'd like the blow-by-blow details of what will happen to my body physically, whether I'll have control over my body, my speech, my mind. I'd like to know whether I'll be lucid enough with all the pain medication I'll be on, to talk to Tony and the kids.

Which organs will shut down first - lungs? Liver? And what will each feel like? If the lungs start to fail, will I be put on a respirator? Is this when I sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order so they can pull the plug on me? If it's the liver that goes first, how long will that process take before the rest of my body gives in? And during that period, will I be able to talk to and see my kids? So many questions.

Some people might call this morbid curiosity, but I'm trying to find the best way to minimize the trauma to Tony and the kids. I don't want them to see me at the end looking like a sack of skin and bones that can't talk, smile, or breathe on her own. I don't want them to see me in pain. In order to make this as painless as possible for Tony and especially the kids, I need to plan ahead and to do this, I need some details.

If any of you have been there at the end of someone's life - someone who died of cancer - please feel free to share your story with me. I'd like to know what it feels like from the caregiver's point of view. I know there's information out there on the Internet and in books, but I think the best information comes from other people who have personally experienced it.

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