The Conversation…

01 Mar

From time to time someone new will check out my BLOG, so for them I will preface this post.  I have COPD, it is terminal, there is no cure and there is no reprieve. It is a slow time-consuming death and hopefully mine is still a few years out.  This is about a conversation my wife and I had about what we will do when my death is close at hand.

This week my wife and I had the conversation.  The “what” will we do when you’re real close to dying conversation?   We have had it before, but it has always incited a fit of crying (both the wife and I) which has shortened and undermined the intent of the conversation considerable.  But what brought about the conversation this time is that I was recently hospitalized with double pneumonia, with a secondary infection in my left lung, plus other issues, and that I was in the hospital for 21 days, a seriously long period given current medicine.  At this point I have been out of the hospital for a couple of weeks, but have not made any significant progress since my release, which has caused me to have a fit of “woe is me.”  My wife and I discussed at length what my wishes were and at what point did I want to implement my wishes.  It was in fact a conversation to ensure that we were on the same page, and that I had not had a radical change in thought process.   Our conversation was straight forward, and we managed to keep most the emotions out and re-affirm that we understood each other, and my desires, and that my wife was ready and able to abide by my desires and the decisions made.  The conversation did not deviate from my Advanced Directive, or my Living Will.  Copies of both documents are very handy, and the originals of both are in a safe deposit box at our local bank.

We were fortunate this time, we managed to keep our emotions in check, and we didn’t try to kid each other.  But having said that, it was the single most difficult conversation I have had with anyone regarding anything in my entire life.  The conversation acknowledges events that are coming.  The conversation forces us to talk about death in a very real way, and made us have a reality check.

Death can sneak up on you and take you without notice, it can claim you in the blink of an eye, or it can drag on and on, slowly stealing your life.  If you’re diagnosed with a potentially terminal or terminal disease, you generally have the time for the “conversation”.  You have time to examine your situation, review your options, and identify potential decision points.  You can sit down with a lawyer and have your decision formalized, and you can ensure your doctors are aware of whatever decision regarding your life you have made.  As unpleasant as the “conversation” is, when the time comes you will be grateful.  Your family and loved ones are better prepared.  They know your decision and desires and they have decision points that help them make the right decisions for you so your desires are realized. And your doctors know what course of action they need to take.

Shifting slightly to speak to the reader, if you’re taken in the blink of an eye, hopefully you have taken the time to put together the necessary paperwork to de-complicate things for those you leave behind. Advanced planning for this can make life for those you leave behind much easier.  It helps greatly in their transition to a world without you. You need to make it clearly understood what your desires are, the decisions you have made, and when they should be implemented. You need to be specific, and I don’t mean a little bit, I mean as specific as you can be, drawing information from as many sources as you need to convey your desires and decisions.

Once you have your defined your wants, made your decisions, it is imperative that you have the documents created that convey those decisions. Keep the power in your hands don’t let the courts get involved. So have your Living Will, Will, and Advanced Directive completed and available.  Make sure your doctor knows you have these documents. Prepare prepare prepare!

Understand, having the “conversation” will most likely be one of the most difficult things you will have to do as an adult.  It is an extremely emotional event, it digs into your soul, it exposes your inner thoughts, and causes you to think at an entirely different level.  And that’s just you!  If the conversation tears you up inside to have it, imagine the impact the conversation has on your spouse, your children, your parents, your preacher, your lawyer, your doctors?  It has an impact on anyone who has even the slightest vested interest in your health.

But without the conversation and the documents to support it, you could be hanging on to life by a tread, you could be brain-dead, you could be on a respirator with no hope of ever breathing on your own again, or any other possible medical situation, and some judge, or lawyer, or doctor, a family member, or some political group, could end up making your final health decisions for you.   That makes the thought of dying that much worst, doesn’t it.  So prepare yourself.  Prepare your family. And take care of the paperwork.

This hasn’t been one of the easier subjects for me to write about.  But it is probably one of the more important subjects I have written about.

As always your comments and suggestions are welcome.  Please take care, Bill




Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Observations, Ramblings


Tags: , , , , , , ,

15 responses to “The Conversation…

  1. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    March 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    You said it, it’s very important and difficult. But, what is more difficult is not preparing and having doctors and nurses battle with family over what is right by “the patient.” I’ve seen this from all ends. My husband and I had this discussions when I was seriously ill and down with heart valve involvement and barely enough energy to spit. We talked and got our paperwork done. It was hard then and yes, hard to read yours and write mine here, but I know that in a little while it won’t be so eminently on my mind but in the back of my mind & I can rest easy that I did this to help out those who will appreciate it, those I love. You’re a sweetheart, my friend. Cyber hug to you, Paulette

    • FlaHam

      March 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Paulette, Your point about doctors, nurses and family battling is very important, and I should have stressed it more. Sometimes things that I write are not as well thought out as others. Some are written using emotions. But I am sure I got my point across. Sweetie, I am glad you survived your heart issues. Sometime I will share my heart issues story. It has cluster fuck written all over it. Take care, Bill xox

      • The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

        March 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

        I think your writing is great, Bill. We can’t think of every thing. What you wrote hit all the main points very effectively, better to leave my experiential detail out of it, lol. But, thank for allowing me my little vent. Have a great weekend friend. Paulette xoxo

        • FlaHam

          March 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm

          Paulette, You can always use me to vent, hell you can use me for just about anything. Thanks again for your comments. Please take care and I hope you also have a great weekend. — Bill, xoxoxo

  2. Paula

    March 1, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    This is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Talking about your own death is not fun but has to be done. Thank you for bringing up the subject this is something everyone should prepare ahead of time. (p.s it sounds like you have been blessed with a wonderful wife.)

    Like you I have everything all lined up for the big day. I have talked to my brothers and sister about what I want done. I even joke about it. I am going to be cremated and my sister has a cabin in Ga with a creak in the back I told her to just throw me in there and each year come back and as I float by wave to me. 🙂

    I hope you start feeling better soon. The lung infection are a bear to get over. I had one and was in the hospital for a whole month. This time I died two times but my angles made me come back said it wasn’t my time yet. Just remember we are all watching you to make sure you behave yourself.

    God bless and you are always in my prayers

    • FlaHam

      March 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Paula, Your truly a sweetie, and thank you so much for your words. I use my pulpit for thoughts like this on a semi-random basis. I know the important, and I am sure there are many folks out there that also know the important, but haven’t done a thing yet. Hopefully someone will read this post and get off their butts and actually do it. Again thanks, please take care. Bill

  3. Laurel

    March 2, 2013 at 11:19 am

    A great post on a difficult topic and I appreciate so much that you chose to share it with your readers. As someone who has been the ‘product’ of early/shocking deaths with nothing left in place for the children, I advocate for a living/dying and onward plan for oneself and those left. It gives me great comfort to know the wishes of my spouse and he of mine. Also giving me comfort is knowing that everything is organized, insurance in place and more for my children. I have designed a roadmap to help should I not be here to do it myself.
    Peace and well wishes as always. I am so glad we ‘met.’

    • FlaHam

      March 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      Laurel, Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I truly appreciate it. It was a difficult post. But one I felt I needed to make, in my ongoing process of awareness. As little as 5 years ago, I didn’t have a Will, or a Living Will, or even an Advanced Directive. Issues that occurred a little over 5 yrs ago drove me to think about the need and to actually do something about that need. After my recent hospitalization, I realized I needed to use my pulpit to preach about this need, so I did it, LOL LOL. Laurel, I too am very happy we “met.” Please take care and have a wonderful day. Bill

  4. duncanr

    March 3, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Excellent advice !

    My wife and I had almost 3 years to prepare for her death from Lung cancer

    The experience taught me to do many of the things you advise to prepare for my own eventual death and I now have folders with details of outgoings, folders listing income sources – salary, pension, bank interest etc, a folder with my will, list of people to contact. Everything I can think of, in fact, gathered together in one place to assist who so ever has to deal with my affairs when I am gone

    • FlaHam

      March 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      I would like to thank you for stopping by my Blog and commenting on my recent post “The Conversation.” Clearly it was a message you understood, probably even more so than myself. Hopefully others will read it and understand the need. Take care — Bill

  5. rebecca2000

    March 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    It is tough, but it is smart. You make many good points. When my mother died knowing what she wanted helped a great deal.

  6. Wanda

    March 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Bill, I found myself nodding with every new point you made. My experience with these matters has involved my parents and one sister and I can tell you that NOT having the conversation (or a will, advanced directive, etc.) is about as destructive to the people left behind as it is possible to be.

    You and S. are to be commended for taking such a proactive approach to this. As difficult as it was (and always will be), you can both relax just a little bit for knowing that you’ve settled things between yourselves.

    Thanks for a thoughtful and very thought provoking post.

    • FlaHam

      March 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Wanda, Again it is wonderful to have you back commenting on my posts, soft smile, I have missed them. While I have branched out in what I write about on my blog, it is still about COPD and the impacts it will have. The conversation is just another of that trend. I don’t have any first hand knowledge of a family that when thru the lost of a loved one without having at least a will to guide them. I can’t begin to imagine the impact and stress my passing would have without prior planning. Some might consider having the conversation as giving up, or being fatalistic about the end, but the fact remains without it and the paperwork, you are hurting those you love even more. Take care, again thank you for your comments. Bill


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