Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Talk of Death


I just returned from visiting with my parents and aunt. I take the two hour drive every other weekend, as I know that my folks, and their generation of family members, won't be around forever. Of course none of us will be around forever, will we? It's just that my parents are in their late 70's, and with many health problems. My aunt is in the final stage of her cancer, and I'm all too aware of how precious time becomes when you know someone is leaving sooner rather than later.

Each time I take this trip, my car is loaded with my kids, my daughter's boyfriend, and on a few occasions, Abel, my new boyfriend. Today's trip felt quite intense. We visited with my folks first, then had them join us for a visit with my aunt. While at the visit my cousins were sharing with me that my aunt has chosen to end her chemotherapy. She has decided that her last days will be healthier and happier days without the misery that chemo can bring. It was kind of a sobering occasion.

On the long drive home Abel and I had a long conversation about health, death and aging. We talked about the various diseases that have affected our family's of origin, and how illness and death have touched each of our lives. At one point there was a pause, and Abel turned to me to ask, have you had a physical lately?

Funny timing. I do have a physical scheduled for this Monday. My health is definitely not something I take for granted. Although my kids are now teenagers, and young adults, I know that they still need me. I know that I still have much more parenting to do, and want to be sure that I am around for a long time. Remember, I will become a grandfather in less than two months. Last time that I met with my doctor, he told me that he was concerned about my blood pressure. It has always been borderline high, but now it is looking problematic. He reviewed my medical chart, and asked how long I have been on my anti-depressant.

Too long.

Like Janine, I have struggled with depression for many years. My depression has not been helped by the mental health problems that my two sons suffer from, nor has it been aided by the death of my husband. In the past two years I have tried twice to go off my medication, each time without much success. I usually do well for a couple months, then find myself sinking deeper and deeper.

I told my doctor that while I was not sure about going completely off the medication, I preferred to try going off the anti-depressant rather than adding another medication for high blood pressure. I'm worried, because I'm not sure I am making the right decision, but once again I feel that it is worth a try. I suppose that if there was an optimum time to try it would be when I am happily in a new relationship and looking forward to the arrival of new life. Is that enough? Is anything enough?

All I know is that I do feel a deep sense of responsibility to not die. Well, just not right now at least. One pill? Two pills? I will make that decision on Monday. Suddenly I have someone holding my hand, reminding me that he is quite invested in my being around for quite some time.

1 comment:

  1. Dan- did your doctor suggest going off anti-depressants? Is he going to ween you off or go cold turkey? Can you possibly try a different anti-depressant or different blood pressure medication? Also, if you see a therapist, maybe get their input as well. Sorry for all of the questions, but it is important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health. There are so many options in medications and other alternatives (acupuncture, herbs, yoga, etc) that can help with both and hopefully you are looking at all of your options. It is wonderful that you have someone supporting you. May that support help guide you in making decisions about your health.