Stumbling Along Toward an Ending
Wednesday, 16 September 2020
In the time I have been writing here about my approaching demise [counting from the Whipple surgery, it is more than three years] I have felt a need to be upbeat and positive about it in these pages.
The source of this pressure is more confusion than mystery. It is a natural bent of mine to seek the bright side in everything from disappointment to catastrophe. But no doubt I am also influenced by reader input that often favors pluck and fortitude in facing the inevitable destruction that is our mutual fate.
In addition, I am a realist. I do not engage in impossible fantasy as our president does and neither do I ignore difficulties. Most of the time I deal with issues head on and work them out as much as is necessary in the moment, sometimes leaving harder aspects for later.
Well, later has arrived and the truth is, it's not so easy now being my old perky self. The odd thing is that it's not about death itself that has me down some days. It's the deterioration on my way to the end.
Remember a week ago when I wrote about how I look like the Rodin sculpture of The Old Courtesan first thing in the morning? That's just the beginning of the day.
Maybe it's the “worst air in the world” in my neck of the woods due to the wildfires, but when I stand up first thing in the morning now, I can barely breathe. I was doing fine lying down and sitting, but not on my feet so I head (slowly) straight for the oxygen concentrator and plug myself in.
Who knew brushing one's teeth could be such an energy drain. Or walking to the kitchen or measuring out the coffee.
Actually, pretty much everything can take my breath away – in the literal, not exhilarating sense.
I gave up making my bed a few months ago and as of this week, I have hired a cleaning service because it is no longer a matter of taking three rest periods to change the bed; it's that I cannot do it at all. Nor can I push the vacuum cleaner anymore.
Taking out the trash is hard too. It's amazing how heavy those under-the-counter kitchen bags can get so I've taught myself to fill them only halfway before taking them out. Now I have taken to putting them in the car, which is closer to my apartment, and drive the 100 feet to the trash and recycling bins.
At first, I felt stupid making that short drive. Now it is a necessity.
Washing dishes, once a boring chore to me, has become one bright spot among all the stuff that exhausts me. It is the one thing left (aside from sitting) that I can easily do without losing my breath.
Even though I took care of my mother 24/7 during the four or five months she was dying and watched her become weaker day by day, I had no idea it would someday be so hard for me to do the household chores I took for granted for more than 70 years. Or, I suppose, I just didn't apply such decline to myself.
In healthy midlife, I think we can't imagine that we will ever become weak and tired and dependent. Oh, all right, make that “I couldn't imagine it when I was in midlife.” Maybe you knew better than I did.
Did I mention that even bending over is almost beyond my capability now? Do you remember that old joke about the old man who knelt down to get something off the floor and said to himself, “I wonder what else I can do while I'm down here?”
That's me now. Actually, it is not a matter of what more I can do. It's that I'll be heaving for breath for four or five minutes after the two seconds it takes me to retrieve a dropped pencil. I try to hang on tight to things now.
My long-winded point today is that the growing impediments to the simple way of life I have nowadays leaves me tired, weak and then dejected, asking myself, why not use those end-of-life drugs right now?
It's a good question. Except. Except. Another thing I didn't know in my mid-years is how strongly life insists on coursing through a body even as damaged as mine is now. A night's sleep (when I can get it) coupled with coffee and the nebulizer puts things right for a few hours and once again, I cannot imagine not being here.
Last week I discussed some of all this with my palliative care provider in a video call. That day, I was also lamenting that using the end-of-life drugs when the time comes deprives me of the final act of life I had wanted so much and we had previously discussed: to experience in my last moments what death is like.
As he often does, he had a good answer for me. Explaining that death doesn't happen all at once, but over a period of time, perhaps I could transfer that desire for knowing the last moments into tracking my physical and emotional transition to the day when I decide it is time for those drugs. To shadow myself down that road.
That surely animated me and made the hard stuff I'm going through worth the effort – for now or for as long as it does. And sometimes I'll tell you about it here.
There I go again, finding the bright side.
Oh, Ronnie: You seem so brave to me. But of course what choice do you or any of us really have? Your "seeing the bright side" is such a blessing for all your readers.
I thank you so much and I'll certainly be thinking of you and remembering your words
as I progress on my own journey.
Blessings to you.
Posted by: Marcia L Love | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 06:34 AM
Ronnie, I am by your side, you are not alone. You are my friend, sister, family.
Posted by: Lin | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 06:47 AM
More and more, I’m finding myself at a loss for words here. The ability you have for sharing your thoughts sure hasn’t diminished, in fact it seems to grow stronger. I find myself reading your posts 2-3 times over. If only this story didn’t have to end. Ronni, I can’t tell you much this relationship I have with you & TGB has meant to me.
Posted by: Doug M | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 06:51 AM
Thank you. With all my heart and breath, thank you. You are a wonderful daily companion and will be for the rest of your life and mine.
Posted by: laura | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:37 AM
I am not sure how I got to your blog but have read it for the last two years ago. I thank you so much for sharing your life with us. You still write with an ironic eye ,empathy , and such a sense of acceotance and appreciation. You are quite a role model for me as I age. (almost 70)
Posted by: Jo March | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:46 AM
Your post is filled with beautiful RAW truths about where you are, where are you have been, and where are you expect to be going. What a beautiful thing.
Posted by: Ann Megyas | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:50 AM
Thank you Ronnie for using some of your precious energy to share your experience. We are all with you and hope you can feel that support. You continue to be a gift to us, your blog community. With Love and gratitude, Mary
Posted by: Mary Coward | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:52 AM
We are with you to listen to it all. What’s still good & what is increasingly hard. You are a truth-teller so keep telling.
Posted by: Susan Dolan-Laughlin | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:53 AM
Hey, Ronni, don't be "perky" on my account, or anybody else's either. You just be you, we all love the real Ronni.............she's brave, bright, honest, loving, she surely does know how to look for the good, she's been walking a long rough path with grace, and once in a while going face down in the grass............if we only love her when the going's easy, well, shame on us! You've given us each so much, surely we can walk with you when the path is steep. You, and the gifts you've given will not be forgotten by me, I can assure you of that. I've been blessed by both, that's no small thing. So you just go on and say whatever you need/want to say..............we're here with you. From now 'til forever.
Posted by: Salinda Dahl | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:58 AM
Ronnie, you are a most interesting woman!
Posted by: Connie S | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 07:59 AM
I smiled in recognition when you described doing dishes being a bright spot in your day. I had a chance to learn what you are experiencing (with the reprieve that I have since regained some of what was lost) when I nearly died at age 37. Returned home to pick up what pieces of my life were possible, I found doing dishes was a sweet comfort. Warm, sudsy water, gentle circular motions, helping my once paralyzed shoulder practice moving again, were all a balm for my soul. My children, young then, would stop helpful visitors form barging in, informing them, "Mom's doing her zen dishes." We switched as a family to using lighter dinner plates so I was able to extend the time I did the dishes, with less strain on my weakened shoulder. I think back on those times and am still grateful for the lessons, the reminders, the peace that is had in doing what is possible for myself and others. Prayers for you as you continue this difficult path. Enjoy your dishes, leave the rest. Hugs.
Posted by: Marjorie Turner Hollman | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:07 AM
I can’t thank you enough for sharing this journey you’ve been on with all of us...
The community you’ve created.
The honesty of you’re thoughts and stories.
I wish you the very best Journey... whenever that moment comes and however you choose to take that step...
I’m keeping this post, for your wise words and those of your palliative care provider
Posted by: SusanL | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:11 AM
Thank you, Doug, for putting my thoughts and feelings so well.
Ronni, anyone who can and chooses to share openly and honestly as you always have on this site is more valued than the finest wine, the smoothest chocolate bar, the creamiest ice cream.
For me, you've "taught" and shown, by example, a life guide to live by: that troubles of all forms, be it a rock in our shoe or the loss of a loved one, will happen, and it is the COPING, with an attitude of freedom and caring without judgement, followed with thoughtful resolution and acceptance of what we choose, is what counts.
Posted by: Simone | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:13 AM
Your perkiness was just one of many attributes your readers treasured, but not, by any means, the most important. We appreciate your honesty, candidness, sense of humor, along with your willingness to share your concerns, frustrations, uncertainties, and curiosity. We are willing to go with you along this path because it has been a mutual relationship. Take care and know that we do care. Step by step............
Posted by: Roberta M Cauthron | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:16 AM
Your palliative care provider sounds wise and highly-attuned to this stage. The words "on her own terms" keep rolling through my mind. And, so what if those terms change every day or every few hours? All part of your life. Yours.
Posted by: Duchesse | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:17 AM
One foot in front of the other Ronnie. Step....step.....step. Do it for as long as you can [we need you] but no longer. Put yourself first - it is so difficult but so necessary. Thats my opinion for what its worth. I travel the same path.
Posted by: Betty Bishop | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:18 AM
Ronni, thank you, for the notes and love you show to all of us, as you are going on this journey, and looking on the bright side, I just listened to a Fran Lebowitz interview, and felt such a strong connection same with you, as I too have read about death and dying, and living with elders since a young age, rather sit with my grandmothers than go to lunch with friends, the wisdom I have gathered about life, and myself always made me feel stronger as a person. Sending loving moments to you, virtual hugs, and know we your flock are with you, and you are in this process, as we all will be, listen again to Leo Bascaglia (bought three of his books and sent the one about Freddie the Leaf to my kids and grandkids) and just think of it as a balance...going from here to there... so many people have passed away, and if there's a way to connect to them when you get over there, send us more messages. Shalom, 5781...m
Posted by: Martha Backer | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:20 AM
To all the heartfelt, eloquent tributes, Amen. Now to trash management! You can’t have that much. Surely a neighbor can pick up from outside your door every 2 or 3 days and take to the bin. Perhaps, in time , a home health aide (from hospice) to help w the niggling tasks that take your energy from all that gives you comfort and joy? Try not to think of dependence on others as “taking”. It is a Giving. Of work and opportunity to those who help you surely as to those of us sharing /and learning from
your experience. Much love dear friend
Posted by: Ann Burack-Weiss | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:24 AM
I hope you will continue to be honest with us about your experience and not feel the need to downplay it for our benefit. That is one of the things that always bothers me about well known “spiritual, think positive, visualize good things” leaders. They don’t share that they have cancer, heart disease, terminal illness, until you hear they died. It’s like they’re embarrassed to acknowledge that everything they preach didn’t work for them. But, on the other hand, they have the right to share what they want. I agree with you, that it’s difficult to imagine ever not being able to care for ourselves. Having been a medical social worker, I saw daily how being independent can change in an instance.
Posted by: Laurel | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:30 AM
You are so genuine, so real. You give others permission to do the same. This dying is step by step--sometimes steps over moments and sometimes steps over years-----I think of the tree that has toppled and yet puts out leaves; noting this in trees, with whom we share 25% of the same DNA, I have wondered at what point is a tree declared dead. One thing I can say, is you will be truly alive as long as you live and as you also experience this death. You teach us how to live, to be awake, to take note, to be fully human.
That is your legacy, dear Ronni. Peace..................
Posted by: Kyoko | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:30 AM
It’s being able to find the bright side that gets us through the nights.
I live in Portland and also have physical difficulties that will soon do me in and this latest thing with the smoke is really too much.
I very seldom cry but yesterday I broke down. It’s like old age and disease along with Trump and a global pandemic aren’t enough? So now we have the smoke that seeps into our homes making simply breathing harder than ever.
At times it is all just too much.
I know you are grateful for life and I am grateful for your sharing of something so great that most people would rather not acknowledge it.
(It gets in through those darn portals though. :;)
Today looks a bit better. The air quality down from hazardous to a mere dangerous.
You will know when it is all too much and time to take the drugs.
Peace and light.
Posted by: Rubye | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:36 AM
Hi Ronnie -- Please buy a couple of packages of pencils, for example, and then just kick the dropped one under the furniture so it won't become a tripping hazzard. Those cleaners you hired can deal with it and restore it to its rightful home. And I really appreciate your workaround for taking out the garbage. Not silly at all.
Live long - as long as you're up for -- and prosper!
Posted by: Cat | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:36 AM
I really appreciate your detailing what life is like for you as the end comes. Helps me get my head straight in preparation.. and physical limitations to expect. Hoping when this smoke clears we'll feel better. I practically passed out yesterday just getting up. (vancouver, wa)
Posted by: Mark Anderson | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:42 AM
Ronni I have tears in my eyes from the truth you have just shared. My only response is I love you.
Posted by: Andrea | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:44 AM
Doug and Simone have said it all. You will live forever here, but when it is time, we will continue to be with you every step of the way. Heartfelt thanks <3 <3
Posted by: Carol | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:47 AM
If you are on the West Coast or Oregon, the air quality is awful and that could definitely be contributing to the way you are breathing. Consider that and be glad that you are able to keep moving despite what you are having to breathe in. You definitely have challenges and big ones; you also have a wonderful spirit that will help you through all these nasty aspects of what you are having to deal with.
Posted by: Irene | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:52 AM
Dearest Ronni~ I cannot thank you enough for sharing this sacred time of your life with all of us. You have decorated our lives in so many ways. In moments of silence and of catching your breath may you find solace in looking back fondly on how many of your readers you have helped, supported, educated and cared for. You are leaving all of us a legacy that cannot be compared. You are indeed a balm to the soul. I am sending you love and want you to know that you will never be forgotten.
Posted by: Diane | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 08:57 AM
I have always thought of dying as being akin to going from room to room blowing out the candles one by one until I reach the basement and having the choice weather or not to use my final breath to blow out the last one. Hopefully, the candles will continue to burn bright for you, Ronnie, and you will make that trip to basement only when you are ready.
Posted by: Bruce Cooper | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:07 AM
Like everyone else I am grateful for your honesty in keeping us informed along your journey.
I find it remarkable that you can find the stamina to keep writing. I remember when you wrote about your medicine regimen, I thought to myself “ Oh, that alone would do me in!”
Thank you for having the courage to write “what it’s really like to get old”. Much love is accompanying you along your way.
Posted by: Lola G | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:13 AM
Thinking of you lovingly, as your sacred journey unfolds...in your own time, in your own way.
May the path open kindly and peacefully, just as you wish.
Posted by: Marena Charron | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:19 AM
Posted by: Rosemary Woodel | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:26 AM
Bruce Cooper. I love your analogy and will remember it. "going from room to room blowing out the candles one by one until I reach the basement and having the choice weather or not to use my final breath to blow out the last one."
Posted by: Jenn | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:26 AM
Can't do better than what has already been said, but forecast is that much of the smoke will be blowing off over the very next few days. As your caregivers have come to know you, I'm certain any one and all of them would be most happy to move out the little bags of trash or obstacles in your daily path.
Vigorous covid-free hugs to all.
Posted by: Norma | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:28 AM
Roni, I so look forward to your posts and dread the day they end. I so wish you could write and tell us if there is something on “the other side.” Although we’ve never met, I think of you often and somehow consider you a friend. I wish you peace.
Posted by: Patricia C Stegall | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:38 AM
Ronni, you are a very special person.
Posted by: James W. Harris | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:40 AM
Dear Ronni, please do whatever you must do. No need to be "upbeat and positive" for us; only for yourself as you desire. I am sorry that you are having such difficulty or having to give up so many things you have been able to do all your life.
I, like so many others here, am grateful for your candor and willingness to share your path to death. You are giving all of us a necessary lesson about dealing with illness, attitudes, and many different end of life issues. You are giving us a gift. Thank you.
Posted by: Shirley Thompson | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:40 AM
It can be an effort to compose something coherent when one is feeling poorly. Please don't feel obliged to write just for us. Write if you feel up to it -- and we will appreciate every word. But if you let a day or two pass, we'll understand. Know that we're all here for you.
Posted by: Susan R | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:40 AM
You don't have to be cherry for me. Your effort, weariness, pain and sadness are so human. We can all become more human at your side. And, cling to life for and with you.
Posted by: Judith | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:41 AM
Once in a great while, on a dingy back alley wall or staircase covered in graffiti, one can find a poem or saying of such great beauty or insight that it seems to turn the setting into a museum piece.
I think about how the Internet is becoming a giant polluted sea of sludge and disinformation often, but then I also think about the occasional brilliant gems one can find among the dross. Gems like Time Goes By. And I smile when I think about how you may very well become a person like Circe, known and treasured by people for millennia, people who never had the luck to actually know you.
Blessings to you, may your breathing be easy and your burdens light.
Posted by: John Gear | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:43 AM
First thought--- The choice for the title of today's blog was perfect. Clever, funny, true.
Second thought--- (sorry, don't be upset with me)
You would have to pay out of pocket, but really, if you can afford it or can tolerate it, now is the time to bring someone in for a few hours 5 days a week as a helper.
If you were a man, you would do it. I knew a man, alone, who died from colon cancer and in the end,he had a woman come in to make him meals and clean and do what ever he needed around the house.
Selfish thought-- that way you would have more time and energy to share you musings and opinions and thoughts with us!!
Posted by: victoria | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:46 AM
I definitely agree that, 'Hey, Ronni, don't be "perky" on my account, or anybody else's either. You just be you, we all love the real Ronni....' (Thank you, Salinda, for coming up with the right words - and equal thanks to many others who left wise words.)
Despite feeling that way, I found myself chuckling over your driving 100 feet to deposit your trash. What a mental picture I got from that.
I do, indeed, love you just the way you are, be that upbeat or neutral or down.
Posted by: Cop Car | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 09:48 AM
Salinda, your "going face down in the grass" reminded me that I used to do that as a child, just to see the view from there. From there, I could see and smell and feel things I couldn't from anywhere else. The earth. Insects and other things too small to see standing up. The grass and the weeds. All part of life and death.
Sending love, Ronnie.
Posted by: Jean Gogolin | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:05 AM
Ronni, the sunshine is always there. Right now it just happens to be above the 6,000 foot layer of smog we are all enduring. I agree with other writers that the breathing may be better
after this weekend when this stuff is supposed to blow away. I use a 3M mask outside with 2091 filters. It helps, but because of the exhaust vents I cannot wear it in public. Recirculating air through the fan system in the A/C can help inside. All in all, the air is as bad as shown in China. It's good to see your moxy showing. Your body may be declining but your mind is still sharing its wisdom. Now that I think about it, decline is inevitable for all of us
it's just frustrating to have a disease speed it up. I enjoy the words you share and read them whenever they are available. Thank you, B
Posted by: Bernie J Fleming | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:09 AM
HOORAY that you got help w/ cleaning and bed-making! Those are not necessary now but they are to feel better w/ the surroundings. And clean sheets! Oh is there much better at any time of life let alone now?
Your journey is felt by all of us. I realized I'd avoided reading for some time of late because just as my grandmother (z"l) would say "see the pretty birdie", so had I when it came to you .. and to friends who are living with dying. So .. to read this was heartening .. a roadmap you are giving yourself and us. Thank you.
Most of all .. assign the trash-taking to someone esp. while the air is so horrible. Even the car 100' means still being out.
Blessings on your head. And for those of us who will begin a new year at sundown Friday, perhaps you too should have an apple and some honey (or if I had your address I'd send a challah!) to ensure whatever time is left you live it sweetly.
Posted by: Joan | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:13 AM
Dear Ronni, I am usually speechless after reading your blog these days, especially today. Your courage in facing death head on is ... is... here I am, speechless again. Just know that you are loved and so appreciated and your blogposts are very precious to us. Full of wisdom.
I can no longer take the trash cans out to the street so my neighbors do that for me, and I didn’t even ask! Just taking the garbage and recycle bags to the cans close to my back door is hard. I can’t make my bed either and don’t drive anymore. I use a walker or I’d be falling on my butt everyday. I identify with what you said about lack of energy and breath, but I am not nearing death as far as I know. I just have COPD and I don’t like it at all.
When the cleaning service is there, have them take the trash out that you have accumulated in your car. Order a “grabber” (or two or three) from Amazon and leave them where you need them so you don’t have to bend down to get anything from the floor. I have one in the kitchen, living room and bedroom. Makes everything easier. I use a steno chair on wheels in the kitchen and roll myself around because I get too tired standing up. I like to do dishes too!
I adore you Ronni.
Posted by: Applegate Melinda | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:14 AM
I never thought of you as perky. Strong and positive, yes, but not (in my lexicon anyway) perky. It's something of a relief to get some plain-spoken honesty, as painful as it is and as frightening to read.
My Mom was in the nursing home for six years. One of the things I learned is that life, under once unimaginable circumstances, can be preferred to not being alive. At her 90th birthday, she managed to convey this: "The thing is to stay alive. As long as you're alive, there's hope." I don't think she meant false hope but a feeling of hope. That said, the time came when she was done, when she moved from living to dying. What your palliative care provider said reminded me of that transition she made. Her death was peaceful, like watching a feather come to rest.
Every time I try to handle aging gracefully or proudly or with humor or humility, a part of me thanks you. And the info you share here gives me a little more patience and understanding as I try to stand by the friends who are dealing with their own aging.
Posted by: Mary Jamison | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:40 AM
Let me join with other readers who have said, PLEASE do not feel you must be partly! That
must really be exhausting to "pretend' when you don't feel it. We love you when you are up, when you are down, or when you are sideways.
I love the honest genuine sharing of what is truly going on ...even as I ache for a magic wand to just fix everything for you.
Please consider getting someone to take ou the trash. I bet you could ask ONCE and it would happen. I am affirming fresher air for you and comfort for as long as you wish to be here.
Peace and comfort to you, ronni
Posted by: Fritzy | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:52 AM
Had to read that one twice to really ponder all the truth in it. I am a perky sort as well, although for me it has always seemed related to my childhood with dysfunctional grown-ups: I'd better find a way to see something positive in every situation because nobody else is coming to fix things for me. As others are saying, I respect your sturdiness but I love and admire your truthtelling. We can face it or not face it, but we will all arrive at the moment of our deaths. It's something that connects us all so poignantly, but very few people are willing to engage that connection. So much gratitude pours out to you every day for being one of those people. I hope we will pay it forward.
Posted by: grace | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:53 AM
Whether still running the marathon or walking the last few feet, these are hard days for all of us here on the west coast. We are covered in smoke, the worst smoke in the world, ever, and it makes it very hard to breath, even for those of us without a compromised lung or two.
The sadness of these days lays heavy on my chest. An online artist friend in Phoenix, Oregon, lost his home, and all of his artwork, to that terrible fire. I sat and cried at the devastation.
Dear Ronni, I think of you every day, and especially in these fiery days when I know it must be hard to breath, and I wonder at how you are doing, wanting you to keep on for as long as possible, to squeeze every bit of life from each day.
Posted by: dkzody | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 11:13 AM
I've been reading and admiring your blog for more than a decade. Thanks to your research and excellent writing and thoughts in the comments I've learned many things that influenced my attitude and activities for the better. However, I seldom was surprised.
Today provided a surprise when you said you plugged in the oxygen generator first thing in the morning. I UNPLUG my generator first thing every day.
I was diagnosed with COPD some 15 years ago. About a year ago, I was hospitalized with a severe case of the flu. Was put on oxygen 24-7 for a week and sent home with a concentrator and told to continue round-the-clock with the oxy. After two weeks I had a follow-up physical with my family physician. I complained about the necessity to haul the concentrator around whenever I left home, and he checked all my data thoroughly. Quite to my surprise, he told me to use the concentrator only at night when I went to bed. "You'll feel better," he said. He was absolutely right, strange as the advice seemed.
Two days ago I had a routine exam with another doctor who said I was the healthiest 84-year-old he had ever seen. Wow. I'm sure that was a bit of a stretch, but I have been feeling very good since going to the oxygen only over-night regime. You might want to give it a try.
Posted by: Dick Klade | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 11:50 AM
As usual(!), I'm late to the gathering and anything I would say has already been eloquently articulated by those who preceded me. I'll just reiterate what I've stated for the past 40 or so years: it's not dying itself that concerns me, it's what I may go through to get there. As much as I wish things were different, I am relieved for Ronni that she will be free to choose the hour and means when the time comes. We should all be afforded that option.
Other than that, it is what it is. Slightly less smoky up here near Seattle today but still pretty icky and difficult for anyone with breathing issues.
Posted by: Elizabeth Rogers | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 11:51 AM
How extraordinary you are Ronni, and what a gift you give all of us old geezers (mainly)in sharing your story so unflinchingly with us.
I, too, drive my rubbish to the bins which are just too much of a marathon away for me to get to these days. Or a kind neighbour texts and volunteers to pick it up outside my door.
The small things, both the wee and major tasks seem insurmountable some days. I am so glad you have a service to take care of you now.
I do hope the air cleans up and soon, it is frightening how pervasive it is now, spreading across Canada even.
Posted by: Wisewebwoman | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 12:16 PM
Ronni, you teach me something important every time you write here. I used to deal with getting tired during the day by drinking a cup of coffee. I can't drink coffee anymore, so when I get tired I allow myself to sit down and look out the window, or even take a nap. Reading your blog has taught me this - only one of the many things that help me to manage ageing.
I will never forget you and the important things you have taught me for as long as I live.
Posted by: Regina B. | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 12:18 PM
Dying seems to have its own pace, doesn't it? When I was a hospice volunteer some years ago, before I entered the home of the patient, I knew I had to slow myself down, try to let go of my life's busyness so I could meet the person where she was.
I have the same feeling now. I want to take in your experience, feel the great intimacy you are choosing to share with us as your earthly life winds down. To learn, to feel and to observe this most sacred time. I am realizing whether it be birth or death- I feel awe.
Posted by: Daria | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 12:26 PM
Much thanks for all that you are sharing. I so appreciate it.
Posted by: Sharry Teague | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 12:58 PM
I sit in a wing chair with a heating pad on my back from torn, or strained or something muscles. My laptop is in my lap. I stop typing to put my hand into your hand. I send wishes to Ronnie Bennet in Portland, Oregon, USA. She put her hand in my hand and we both cry a bit. Another day goes by. Bye!
Posted by: Betty Bishop | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 01:24 PM
Ronnie, your honesty is bracing -- and a gift. Know how much we appreciate it, and you.
Posted by: Judith Graham | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 01:32 PM
Ronni, I confess that I am the proverbial "chicken." I once again opened your offering this morning and saw that no one had commented yet. I was at a loss for words (highly unusual). Darn it! Anyway, I was grateful for the length of your story today despite your loss of energy/strength. You never cease to amaze. It's truly wonderful to read all the comments and to see how very much you are appreciated and loved. You are such a very special human being. I hope there's an afterlife just so I can get to meet you at last. Everyone has pretty much covered it all so I will end and simply say "lots of love, support, and positive thoughts sent your way in your journey." The most gentle of hugs. Regina M. (originally from NY - now retired in Maine)
Posted by: Regina M. | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 01:48 PM
I agree with Susan L. I always admire people who look on the bright side. After all, expecting the worst all the time robs you of any possibility of good. All the time is wasted on the negative.
I will be (as I already have) thinking of you and wishing you well in your decision.
Posted by: Judy Carrino | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 01:57 PM
How could I not be moved by post of yours— and by the comments. For everyone who comments there are probably about 98 of us reading, eavesdropping, taking it all in. The insight and advice from your palliative carer will stick with me for a long time: thank you. And thanks to Simone, Laurel, Bruce Cooper, Judith Graham and Daria in particular for their comments. I long for you all to breathe freely again. Kia kaha.
Posted by: Rachel McAlpine | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 02:37 PM
I don't know if you believe in a meta-consciousness of some kind, like a soul or essential being, but if we have such a thing, I believe it will be fully aware of the whole incredible transition from life to beyond-life when it happens, regardless of whether you're awake or have taken the drugs.
Much love to you, dear Ronni.
Posted by: Elissa R. | Wednesday, 16 September 2020 at 10:59 PM
Always, keeping you next to my heart with so much love. So thankful that you are you.
Posted by: Julia | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 01:55 AM
I had tears in my eyes reading your words , as today I had no courage at all, I am ashamed of myself, I would like to be like you, strong, brave, honest, clever... ou are a model to me Thank you
Posted by: artaud chantal | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 06:05 AM
This blog should be required reading at every university or even high school in the country. Your "bright side" capacity feels like courage from here, and the way your desire to learn and know burns through the understandable sorrow is remarkable and insightful.
Posted by: Lisa | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 07:55 AM
I would heap more praise on your head, Ronni, but The Community has done a beautifully eloquent job of that already.
I'll say this to/for you & all of us:
Look at what grew from this blog; a true Community.
I cried more thru the comments than thru the article. They are full of love, joy, prayers, perspective, and humor.
My life is so much richer for being among you. Thank you, Ronni, & Everyone...
Posted by: Kate | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 09:11 AM
You will know, Ronni, when the time is right.
Posted by: Natasha M | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 02:32 PM
Dear Ronni,You have given us perspective, attitude and vocabulary to cope with the difficulties as well as the joys of life. As Julia said, "So thankful that you are you."
BTW The young people who live in the complex where I live also drive their garbage
to the dumpster.
Posted by: Estelle D | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 02:54 PM
My eyes are full of tears now. This is a poignant, achingly beautiful reflection. I appreciate that you are here and the gift of your writing.
Posted by: Kathryn | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 08:18 PM
Your thoughts are beautiful as you share here your difficult steps. I had not realized that even bending over might be so exhausting or even impossible, or making your bed, etc. I am learning a lot from you, and admiring you. You are helping us by telling us how your journey is. Thank you dear blog friend.
Posted by: Terra | Thursday, 17 September 2020 at 08:34 PM
RBG went ahead this evening.
Hugs to you.
Posted by: MageB | Friday, 18 September 2020 at 08:20 PM