I never felt I was any different from other people throughout my life. I went through marriage, having children. Then I served four years in the Women’s Army Corps, and after my discharge I worked at various jobs, including writing for a newspaper and writing publicity for local companies. When I was diagnosed with emphysema/COPD in my later years, my life took a different turn and in a short time it took too much of my energy to make the rounds of those companies to pick up the latest list of events/companies I needed to cover. I finally retired and as my strength began to wane, without my knowledge, I became one of the throwaway people.
What does that term mean? Simply put, it’s this; when you are elderly, ill and have little time left to live, you are no longer needed or necessary in a productive society. At that point, doctors can no longer heal you so they simply want you to go away. They can no longer treat you successfully and they tell you your medicines no longer do you any good. They try to discourage you from taking them. Their recommendation is that you enter a hospice where you can die “peacefully” with the help of morphine, so that they don’t have to admit their inability to heal you. Surely, that must be hard for them to deal with, but it’s also hard for the patient to face.
In April of 2018, on my 79th birthday in the emergency room of a local hospital, a doctor informed me I have 6 months to one year to live. The limit of my life being told to me in that way was something I never even considered. I knew I had less stamina than before and that I couldn’t turn out the work I used to do, but couldn’t believe someone had put it into cold, hard words….”6 months to a year!” Should I do what they recommend and just give up, go to a hospice and allow the morphine to take over my remaining days?
This is me on either April 6th or 7th, 2018, in Sunrise Hospital Emergency Room, on the Bi-Pap machine. It blows air into your lungs forcefully when you can no longer manage to breathe on your own. You can see I’m exhausted, but I’m stubborn, I continued to fight and refused to give up.
Doctors are educated in medicine so they’re supposed to know, but I find myself thinking, “I’m not ready yet!” I said it when I was on the Bi-Pap, when everyone thought I wouldn’t make it, I said it when I hadn’t the strength to get out of bed for days, I said it when I cried and my daughters held me and told me to fight to live. I fought with all my might to survive and I’m here and it’s been 3 months since the fateful day I heard those words…”6 months to a year to live.” I’m not ready yet, and I believe it’s not up to the doctors, but to a higher power, as to when I expire.
As for the title of Throwaway People, I believe that doctors know when they can do no more for a patient. I believe that once they realize this, they also realize their own limit to their abilities. It’s brought home to them that they are not God. Because their purpose in life since becoming a doctor is to heal, they don’t like being reminded frequently with the presence of a patient who is on her/his way out of the world. Doctors often come to believe that they can perform miracles, and many times they do, but once they realize they are only human after all, I think it’s hard for them to deal with. This is why we become Throwaway People. We are consigned to the helpless and hopeless. But I will keep fighting to live as best I can until the day I die, and if I have my way, God willing, that will be YEARS from now. I’m going to do my best NOT to be a Throwaway Person!