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Living At All Costs

Nearly 2.5 million people in US die each year. Of those, over 60% of people die in hospitals. (Kochanek et al. 2004)

Do you expect to die in a hospital? How long do you expect to live?

Makes me think of the book Little Women. The one sister who has always been sickly finally passes on – she is lieing in bed, holdin onto her sister’s hand. They reminisce of their lives together and she difts softly into sleep and passes on.

If these sisters were here today in 2011, I’m sure the sickly sister would have lived a sicky, long life into her mid 80’s at least, found herself in a nursing home which she received sporactic visits from family now and again. She would be on several different medications that the nurses would be there to help her take.  She would play cards and bingo with other residents. She would be given a bath by a 25 year old girl that could care less about her life and was wondering to herself if she is missing tweets from her BFF.

I have yet to experience someone close to me pass, but I have experienced suffering from family memebers in their old age. From Alzheimers, cancer, quadruple bypass surgery, dependency on pain medication, scary bacterial infections, knee replacements, lung surgery and limb removal…. It makes me want to ask …

When is it enough?

Say I find out I have cancer at the age of 60. I go through chemo and all the procedures that are entailed to get rid of it. Then 5 years later I start having the onset of Alzheimers or I find out that I have to have a kidney removed and live on dialisis for the rest of my life.

Which is worse? Dieing of cancer at age 60 or living with Alzheimers for the next 30 years…

I’m not sure where I am going with this.

I guess I am asking when does a person say, “I am no longer going to intervene with my mortality” ?

When I am going to let myself pass.

Many years ago, people didn’t have that choice. They died in wars, tragic events, or illnesses in which they had no cure for. But today, it seems that we have a medical procedure for everything – I pill or cure surgery that we can choose to take to make us live longer… maybe not better, but longer.

“I am choosing that I will not let AIDS kill me.So, I will take these 15 pills everyday of my life to keep me alive.”

“I am choosing that I will not let cancer kill me. So, I will have my right lung cut out and I will go through radiation until it is gone. I will no longer be able to walk up a flight of stairs, but I fought cancer and won.”

All these choices are empowering and we all have the right to choose to live – but when do we choose to let go? It is when our bodies are completely debilated, or when we no longer have the mental capacity to choose for ourselves?

What message are we sending to the next generation? You must always choose to live and never choose die – there is no reverence for death, only life?

Live at all costs?   


  1. As someone with a husband on dialysis, I find this a little bit offensive. I see your point but I would surely rather live a sickly life into my 80's than die in my 20's - Wouldn't you?

    Perhaps it's being an atheist but my quality of life would have to be really bad before I would choose death.

  2. I apologize if I was offensive - that is never my intent. I was only trying to get out something I have been thinking about for awhile.

    May I ask how bad would it have to get until you decided to pass?


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