This is a truth-telling post, so beware. It may make you uncomfortable. You may stop reading at a certain point and get out of the story. You may not agree with what I say, or you may agree, either way, it’s my feeling at this stage of my life. Have you ever wondered why you’re here? Today I’m wondering that very thing. My doctor told me something on Monday, 1/22/2018, that I’ve known for some time, but never admitted.
“You are at the end stage of your condition.”
I never really allowed myself to think that the day would come when I was close to my death. I don’t know if it ever occurred to any of you, but after hearing those words, the question of “Why am I here?” is hitting me pretty hard. No, I’ve not been given a definite time limit, I could live 2 more days, 2 more weeks, 2 more months or 2 more years. For that matter maybe even longer, but it’s not going to be pretty, believe me! As time drags on, I’ll become more disabled because of lack of air, even with the oxygen. I’m now to the point where I can’t walk but a few feet. When we used to go out somewhere, I used my medical mobility scooter. Now I can’t do that anymore, because using my hands and arms to steer it leaves me breathless. Now I must settle for a wheelchair someone pushes. To my consternation, I’m becoming more dependent all the time, which is certainly not the way I wanted to end up.
For 20-plus years, I’ve lived with emphysema/COPD. Each day I live my life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on oxygen. During the day at home, I am tethered to a 50-foot line connected to an electric oxygen converter, so that I can move around for necessities. If I go to the doctor or out anywhere, someone carries a portable oxygen tank for me. I’m no longer able to cook meals for my family in the last 6 months. My weight has dropped dramatically in the past year from 150 to 106. The doctor tells me it’s part of the process of decline, because I burn so many calories just struggling to breathe. Emphysema/COPD is not curable, and is actually a progressive disease which worsens over time. The medications I take each day keep me living another day. Someday they won’t work anymore and that will be my end.
The Way It Was
When first diagnosed, the condition wasn’t too bad. Oh sure, I had to have the oxygen all the time, but I was strong and able to carry it myself. I was divorced with four kids, and still able to drive and go places alone. I was always very independent, working at various jobs (including four years in the Women’s Army Corps,) factory worker, cashier, bartender, clerical worker, salesperson, secretary, head typist at a newspaper tasked with teaching newly installed computers to other typists, copy editor in the newspaper, and finally writing feature stories in the same paper. But before long, the paper where I was employed entered into a Joint Operating Agreement with a larger paper, and they insisted on a Journalism degree, which I did not have. They gave me a job as Display Advertising Secretary which I held for five years. But I yearned to write, and found that there were businesses in my city who would pay a publicity writer to publicize their business. So I left the paper and wrote publicity for about 3 years, then I was diagnosed with emphysema/COPD, and began carrying oxygen. The great part, which was kind of a payback for the newspaper I left, was that my articles, with my byline, were published in the Business Section of the paper! Finally, I retired because lugging the large tanks of oxygen in and out of the car (at that time) were beginning to be too much for me.
Traveling Is Over For Me
I’ve also been able to travel a bit, seeing places I never dreamed of seeing; Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley, Disneyland, Sea World, Mt. Rushmore, always in the United States. There’s still more I’d like to see, but my time is running out. It’s more difficult to travel long distances now too. Major travel is over for me. My doctor says I cannot fly since I’ve had two collapsed lungs and can’t risk another while up in a pressurized aircraft. So I am relegated to ground travel, and long trips are very hard for me. My last one was to Wisconsin for a family reunion. I’m doubtful I’ll ever be able to make another trip of that length. I also can’t stand high altitudes, such as when we were on the Wisconsin trip and went through Vail, Colorado. My breathing was labored, we increased my oxygen flow to 4, but I still felt bad and had a headache. Once we came down a couple thousand feet, breathing was still difficult, but a bit easier and the headache went away.
Dancing Was My Joy
In my early years, I loved to dance and did that as often as I had the opportunity. If I could, I would have just lived on the dance floor, because when music starts, I feel it throughout my body, almost as an electric, involuntary sensation. I’m either tapping my feet to the rhythm, or tapping my fingers or moving my body in some way. Lately it’s been “chair dancing” since I have no other alternative. HEY! It’s okay, at least I feel the rhythm! There was a time when I loved singing too, and performed on TV in my teen years, with momentary thoughts of a career. But I met a man, fell in love, married and had beautiful babies. I’m certainly not sorry of my decision.
By the time I was 23, my household consisted of me, my husband and three beautiful little girl babies, the eldest born in 1959, the middle in 1961 and the youngest in 1962. As life moved on, things began to fall apart, and my husband and I had difficulty living together. Finally after a particularly violent episode, he left our state and I did not know where he was. I was alone to raise my girls. When he finally came back to our state, we knew there was nothing left for us and we divorced in 1968. Later in life, I met another man I cared for, which resulted in a son who now lives in my house, in his own apartment.
If I Had A Purpose
My reason for wondering Why Am I Here? is that with my illness, I can no longer do things for others as I formerly did. I can’t even take as good care of myself as I once did. Taking a shower? Washing my hair? Dressing myself? All these things are becoming more difficult than I’d ever imagined. So now I feel that I look shabby, somewhat like what we used to call a “bag lady.” But even so, if I had a purpose for being here, perhaps I’d feel better.
Everyone Needs a Purpose
Everyone needs a purpose, and I no longer have one. I can’t write online as much as I once did because I get too tired. It takes me so long to finish one article, that if it’s on a currently trendy subject, by the time I finish it, the trend is past. I can’t volunteer anywhere, since I don’t drive now and couldn’t take enough oxygen with me even if I did. I must depend on others to take me wherever I need to go, doctor, haircut, etc. My life since my retirement has narrowed down to lonely days and few friends. I used to know lots of people, and could spend time with them. Now I spend my days talking to friends on social media because I no longer have other friends. Without my computer I’d be totally alone all day, every day. I’m grateful for the internet friends I have, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that sometimes you’d like to sit down face-to-face with someone and have a cup of coffee and some conversation.
All of my children are grown, three of the four have their own families. Two of my children live far from me, and I rarely see them. I have great-grandchildren I’ve never seen. Two of my children live here, but have no idea of my loneliness. One of them even lives in my house, but he doesn’t realize that I question my existence and I would never tell him. He’d just accuse me of self-pity, and though I don’t think that’s my reason for writing this, there’s always the possibility he’s right, so I say nothing. I try hard to guard against that sort of thing. My daughter lives across town; she’s an RN, she has a career, a husband, 2 grown sons and grandchildren, she’s very busy. My children have their lives and they are like I was in my young years, busy, busy! They’re wonderful, I love them and I’m proud of them all. I want them to be able to live their lives as fully as possible.
We DO Get Old
We DO get old, but that’s no reason not to have a full life, unless you’re prevented from it by circumstances such as mine. I just wish I was still useful, that there is something I can do for someone else. I like to think that’s one reason why I’m writing this story….to help others who may find themselves in the same predicament. There’s really not a lot I can do otherwise, for myself or for anyone, but if this story helps even one person, then perhaps I’ve fulfilled my purpose.
Why Am I Here?
I’ve lived a good life, and I regret nothing, other than that I didn’t stop smoking many years before I did. But as time goes by, I can’t help but wonder, “Why am I here?” Surely there must be a reason that I’m still alive? I’ve heard many things such as, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” Or, “Everyone and everything has a purpose, you just have to find it.” Really? I get up every morning hoping against hope that there will be something to look forward to, some reason for me to BE. So far, I’ve not found it. What about you? Do you have a purpose, something that gets you up in the morning and keeps you moving until it’s time to relax at night? Share it with me if you will. I’d like some inspiration right about now. Thanks for reading my story.