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Not the Kid I Used to Be

Something Special on End of Life Care

[PERSONAL UPDATE: How nice to receive so many words of encouragement from you on yesterday's post about my - uh, dental challenge. Thank you all for your kind notes.

The needle pricks (more than a dozen) of novocaine were the hardest part. (Forget waterboarding; if Dick Cheney wants to know anything from me, just keep sticking needles in the roof of my mouth and I'll tell him anything.) After that, the teeth pulling was easy. The denture feels like a boulder in my mouth, but I assume I'll get used it.

The oddest thing is how tired I was even before the procedure was finished; as exhausted as if I hadn't slept for two or three days. Back home by 10AM, I spent all of yesterday in bed, waking every few hours for pain pills. Tylenol handled it fine and I was soon asleep again.

This morning, I'll visit the dentist again to see how I'm doing and then, I think I'll spend some time with the mirror smiling at myself. It's been a long time since I've allowed myself to smile much. It's terrific to have attractive teeth again.

Anticipating that I wouldn't feel much like writing after the dentist yesterday (good call, Ronni!), I prepared the post below a couple of days ago. It's a lovely, little film.

Again, thank you so much for your encouragement and care. I appreciate all of you so much.]

Most of us are all too familiar – through stories from others or the personal experience of family members - with end-of-life horror stories. Too often, dying elders are plugged into machinery, kept alive long past their use-by date because, lacking instructions from the patient, doctors and hospitals are obliged to do any- and everything to maintain life, even if it is in name only.

If you have not made a living will or other kind of advance health care directive and appointed a health care advocate through a durable power of attorney, you should. We'll discuss details of that soon, but today, there is La Dama y La Muerte or in English, The Lady and the Reaper.

This short film, from Spanish director Javier Recio Gracia was among the 2010 nominees at the recent Academy Awards in the category of Best Animated Short Film. It is beautiful (maybe a little unfair to doctors) and funny – a joy to behold.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: The Little Brown Wooden Box


It was so good as well as fun to read your post today and know that you are doing well. Also thanks for the reminder of appointing a health care advocate. I've seen enough of what happens when this important step has been neglected.
Loved the film!

I'm so glad you have your smile back!

Lovely film clip too!

Ronni - SMILE - brave gal.

Final wishes by Maggie Callanan is a wonderful book about that end of life moments. These a hospice nurse tales of their patients and that time before "they go into the light." Make sure to have the kleenex ready.

Okay, okay...I'll get the directives and assign the advocate. What a great way to get the point across!

Hope your smile is fabulous. I can never go to the dentist without remembering the Bill Cosby routine about needles, numbing, and drilling: "I hobe you are sabis-fibed!"

Goodonya, Ronni, I'm glad it all went well and the bodies just take a bit more time to recover, I realized that a few times myself. No longer the immediate bounce back but a slow almost lethargic return to good health. As it should be.
All healing thoughts go your way. I'll watch the film when I'm back in Highspeed.

Glad all has gone well with dental surgery, Ronni. Healing should be fast.

Great little movie and a timely reminder to update instructions in Spain. I don't think my British living will is valid. Thanks so much.

Glad you are feeling better, Ronni. I had forgotten how painful needle pricks in the roof of the mouth can be. Hate, hate, hate that, too.

I have put the video on my blog and linked back to you because it reminded me of this story, which I also put in my post:

I know a man who, as his 77 year old mother lay dying in the final stage of breast cancer which had spread to her lungs, bones, and brain, refused to let the doctor give her the morphine she needed to ease her excruciating pain because there was a good change that it would shorten her life. He said, "I would rather my mother lay there for ten more days than to do anything to speed up her death."

She died three days later.

That something like this could happen in our country is sickening.

Ronni, "boulder in the mouth" is about right. The good part is still ahead--smiling, laughing, eating (almost) without a second thought.

Congratulations on getting through what is by far the worst part, psychologically. The next two weeks are challenging in a different way, and dentists (who nowadays generally have perfect natural teeth themselves) don't always explain it well. If you keep them in most of the time and attempt to eat most things, your facial muscles adapt and your brain learns--without conscious effort on your part--that These Are the New Teeth Now. So, something is happening even when it feels like nothing is.

Also, don't be afraid to go back for "adjustments" over the next few months. That's what they're called, but what's really involved is usually a little sanding and drilling to get the perfect fit. Definitely worth the effort.

Again, congratulations and good luck.

Ronni, you are heroic. I so hate dentists! I guess you have gone through the worst part and will no doubt adjust to all the rest. Hugs

It has got to be very hard. Give yourself time to heal.

I LOVED THE ANIMATION!! It is so right on. I have a living will and all kinds of directives lodged with my daughter (executor of my will), my hospital, my Kaiser Permanent records, and anywhere else I can think of. Do you think I should have it tattooed on me somewhere?
I come from a small town (more a village really) in the wilds of West Virginia where being born at home in your mother's bed and dying at home in your own bed (often inherited from your parents) was the norm. We had wonderful country doctors who may not have known much about modern medicines, but would give paragoric for pain and never think a thing of it. It was not a bad way to live ... or die.

Ronni, it is good to know that you got through the extractions without too much of a problem. I hope you continue to do well with the denture. I've often thought it may be the very thing for me to do, so if you get on well, I may consider it.

good movie short. i hear so many horror stories of folk's final days.i let everyone know my wishes. just like the sex talk w/ kids, little mentions start to get the message across. all at once it's too much.
glad you're thru the dental part so well.


I read your dental post from today as you suggested, and I needed it. I am spending the day before Thanksgiving in a dentist's chair. I have had one lousy experience after another this year (and since I was 5) with teeth. I am happy to know I am not ALONE.

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