Most people, when they get news like I recently got, decide to make every day special, to really count, since there are now a numbered few remaining. But I’m finding it doesn’t work that way. Instead of some flurry of activity aimed at some direction and goals, no, days are pretty much the way they always have been. In fact, we’re slowly planning a vacation in November and so figuring out route and schedule and making some critical reservations – not the spontaneous hop on the road and go on pilgrimage one might expect. But my mother’s 99th birthday is still there on the calendar and I can hardly skip that so in reality life with the clock ticking isn’t much different than back when you sense of time running out. Other events and commitments and responsibilities drive your schedule.
In fact I don’t even think about my condition much any more, after burning out after the shock of the news. I suppose that’s one weird thing about not having any symptoms (at least yet while it’s still not so severe). Nothing seems different. Without blood tests and bone marrow biopsy life today would be essentially the same as it was three weeks ago. I wonder how long it will stay that way.
In fact now my most common thought is exactly that, not how much time I have left, but how much time before blood counts drop low enough to actually impact my life. A life expectancy projection really doesn’t mean much, since how much of the end of that is filled with unpleasant events (like panic trips to ER or transfusions or, oh joy, brutal chemo). I’ll get a chance to test a theory that actually all the late stage treatments of cancers are a curse, not a blessing. It’s going to be over no matter what, why drag it out with unpleasant and useless treatments. People talk about “fighting” it – what is there to fight? You really think your mental attitude somehow influences DNA and gene expression and chemical reactions. Sure mental attitude impacts the whole body, being fit, being positive, gives you some strength to take the punches and keep going, my willpower isn’t going to change biochemistry. And that is all it is – the same reactions that gave us life take it away, it’s impersonal and oblivious to us.
I’m not sure I want to try to make days “special”, especially when that’s really fake. Days are special when they really are special. Sure you can expose yourself to more opportunities but plenty of your last days will just drag on, the same as some of your earlier days did. Maybe for younger people, still on some mission to accomplish something, this is a time to redouble your effort, but for me, already retired (and missing doing something productive) so what – am I going to go get some temp job or intern somewhere or volunteer just to think I’m accomplishing something in my last days. Or suddenly start buying things or other self-indulgent behavior just because I can, not because I really want to. Or change lifelong beliefs just because it’s now the end.
So maybe today was special. I was free to do as I chose and maybe that’s really what makes a day special – freedom to decide how to spend the day. And I’m thankful for that freedom and maybe that’s what I’ll miss most when I have days where medical events dictate my day.