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MarkintheDark

Prepared to Check Out By Year's End

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Posted (edited)

I mentioned in the “How Do You Feel” thread I haven't felt ready to disclose the depths of my thoughts lately.  I guess I'll give it a try. Primarily, I'm preparing myself to die by year's end.

Aside from fighting HIV for over 26 years, the health issues have become more numerous the past six years with multiple hospital stays.  Long term with this disease, from a time when therapies were hit-or-miss, takes a medical toll on folks like me.  Despite fighting back, my stamina's taken a hit.  There are a lot of activities I used to enjoy that are difficult, now sometimes impossible, to do.  I've taken charge of those things I can vis-a-vis my health care, with decent results.  I'm glad I've been able to share those successes here on DF and elsewhere.  I'm glad I've been able to be an advocate.  I've also been able to jettison – I know it sounds harsh to those who know the story – familial baggage.  In fact, I've made every effort the past few months to enjoy my life.  And I have.

But my finances are dwindling to a point I can't support myself much longer.  I long ago learned to ignore (now) six-figure hospital bills and collectors.  Never was able to qualify for SSDI, so I just took my SSR early if only to postpone what I feel is the inevitable.  I'm accomplished in my fields and respected, but there's no suitable work, even from home. My stamina cannot even handle regular part time work on site.

Unfortunately, my neighbor/landlord/friend with whom I've become almost a brother because of our age, health issues, etc., probably has a contract to sell my duplex now.  I fully agree with his reasoning, being no longer able to afford his own living expenses.  He's the guy with whom we've both shared our respective ideations. I've never had a friend like that IRL.  And we're both comfortable sharing candidly with each other, more than I have with any professional.  Our life “plan,” so to speak, was that I'd have a place to live here as long as I wanted it.  It's not Architectural Record, but it's safe, comfortable and affordable.  Now I'll have to move in a few more months because there will be no lease renewal.  My problem the past several years is that stressful major life events, including two of them right after moves, have put me in the hospital.  And in our market, gentrification has made rents unaffordable except in the most run-down neighborhoods.  I've lived in this metropolitan area most of the past 45 years.  It's home.

What makes me sad about exiting is that I have a whole spectrum of friendships these days.  I enjoy mentoring “kids” about my craft.  I love seeing them succeed.  Intimidating people rarely intimidate me any more.  I usually respond instead of react.  I like that I'm still refining my skills, even with the lack of upgraded equipment.  I like that I'm still learning stuff every day.  And that even goes for basics like, silly as it sounds, vocabulary.  I'm better versed than ever about issues and enjoy exploring them.  My life is pretty fulfilling despite the medical issues.

About the only choice I do have right now is to make my end-of-life preparations in the time that's left.  The big task will be my Final Will. That includes, in particular, my feline companion, Spot, for whom I'll have to make arrangements for his well-being.  It includes my digital photo collection which I've already made arrangements for a fellow photographer to have.  There's a significant amount of rare aviation industry memorabilia dating from the 70s-90s I feel must have a home with a historical society or two, a more important portion already went to a museum's collection last year.  Most frustrating, no one in my family really cares about the significant research and records I've collected on Dad.  I suppose compounding it is that, in almost exactly two months, I'll be the same age he was when he died.  In a strange sense that makes my own exit more peaceful and easier to handle.

Honestly, too, having done so much therapy over my 60-some-odd years, I've reached my limit of dealing with yet more issues.  Much the same as my medical treatments, I've decided enough is enough.  I'm not willing to go yet another round, let alone be candid, with a therapist who's just gonna spout the standard treatments.  It's not that I'm special.  It's that I'm tired.  tbh, I don't know that even doing the surgery next month, for the pain of the recovery period, is even worth it since the pain has been manageable the past few months anyway.  I'd rather be out living instead of being laid up again.

What it comes down to is that I've reached the limit of what I'm willing to endure just to stay alive.  Quality of life is more important to me than anything else.  Surviving is not living.  The quality of my life has been in continuing decline for several years now.  I'm not willing to preside over my life deteriorating further.

Edited by MarkintheDark

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I know how stressful it is to uproot and have to move and leave everything that is comforting and familiar.

It's been my life story.

Of course, it's especially hard when you are ill, physically and/or mentally. 

Can you stay with your good friend, your landlord until you get settled somewhere else? Or with another good friend??

OK, so maybe you'll have to live in a crappier neighbourhood, but as harsh as this may sound, you will get used to it. There are always positives to be found in all situations. You may have an amazing neighbour or meet a kid who needs mentoring over there. 

You are my mentor here and I would be very, very sad without you. You've helped me from the very beginning.

Of course, ultimately it's your choice to stay or to go and noone can take that away from you, but you say that actually, you are happy right now.

I feel you have more living to do mark.

With the exception of your work (photos) don't worry for a second about any of your other possessions. You can dump the lot if it's easier to move without them.

You are the most precious thing to think about. If you can get another roof over your head, why not continue?

:hearts:love you 

 

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I understand how you feel.   I don't want you to give up though.  I would help you any way I can.  I would try to apply for SSDI again and apply for every type of government assistance you can get.  Your finances are dwindling and you have more health issues.  You might get it.  Mom eventually got it after 4 years of fighting.  They finally factored her age into the situation along with a long list of health issues.  I do know how you feel though.  I've always had the same thoughts.  I need to have quality of life to remain here.  We're your friends though and love you and always want you to be here.  I wish we lived closer because I would take in Spot and love him and give him a good life but I don't like having these talks because I don't want you to give up!

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Posted (edited)

As always, I treasure the affection we hold for each other here on DF...and that's one reason I was reluctant to post my thoughts on a subject particularly sensitive to us.  By the same token, I've always striven to be genuine with y'all.

I've been considering my position on the issue all year and, simply, it hasn't changed.  I've needed time to come to peace with it.  This isn't the same flavor for me as if I'm having a bad hour or day or week or two.  What's different is that I've generally been doing well the past few months.

I lost just about everything back in 2002 when I was younger and strong enough to fight my way back.  My situation has changed.  My options are now considerably more limited.  It's not like I'm in my resilient 20s.  No, I don't like it.  By the same token, however, I simply don't have the will to get into another damn fight for survival.

While, yeah, I no doubt could "survive" in some manner, I have to reiterate that the quality of my life is what's important to me. 

I admit that watching my birthmother deteriorate - and having been the one stuck deconstructing her life - it was my own kinda wake-up call.  Granted, she's always been a complete, "helpless," self-destructive mess psychologically.   But, medically, too, she's so loaded with problems - now just sitting, waiting to die - that I can see the possibility I'm headed in that direction. 

Many of my contemporaries with long term HIV/AIDS (25-35+ years) struggle with medical issues due to their unexpected longevity...to the point that survival is their only reason for living.  That, to me, is pathetic.  I refuse to let that happen to me.  At the moment, it's still a choice.

Edited by MarkintheDark

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Posted (edited)

I will respect whatever choice you make but at the same time help you any way I can.  I know what you're going through.  It's what mom went through.  The truth is she could still be here today but she chose to give up her nutrition and basically starved to death because as a nurse she knew where her story was leading and she couldn't do it anymore.  Her quality of life when she was in the hospital was worse than anything I've ever seen.  Me saving her life allowed here to spend time with all of her family and tell them all goodbye but I had to respect her decision to leave this world.  I would have made the same choice if I was her.  Just know you have a lot of people here who love you.  You have helped me so much.  I feel that in your life there are people that come along just at the right time to help you through impossible times that you wouldn't be able to get through without them.  You are one of those people in my life.  Again I will respect any choice you make but also I'm here for you if you need me.

Edited by sober4life

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Posted (edited)

I understand, Mark. Seems like you have this well thought out. It is always good to prepare to not be on this earth anymore as we all have to face that. I wish I could make it better for you to stay around longer as you will be very missed. My prayers go with you. Thanks for trusting us with this.

Deborah

Edited by BeyondWeary

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2 hours ago, BeyondWeary said:

Thanks for trusting us with this.

The same sentiment here, BW.  This has been tough to share, even on DF.  You're about the only people with whom I'd trust this kind of intimacy.

To reassure some newer folk, I'm not in immediate danger.  And I'm months from any final decisions.  Meanwhile, too, I'll have ups and downs as usual, such as today's stifling heat sucking the energy outta me.

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I'll add my voice to the chorus wishing you the very best. None of us wants you to leave of course. But I "get it", at least somewhat.

I think about quality of life issues all the time. Right now, I'm still reasonably functional but I could be facing more kidney failure and cancer soon. I need to get cracking on my will too...including what should happen with my two elderly cats.

I'm happy you felt comfortable sharing all of this with your DF family. As I've said elsewhere, people here know more about my issues than any of my relatives.

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I have the same thoughts about myself.  Honestly I have no desire to survive another winter.  I still have health problems that I act like I don't have for the most part.  I don't go to doctors anymore and I'm just going to live out my natural life however much longer that is.

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I'm sorry, Mark. My mother felt the same way and I respected her wishes. I respect your wishes but hope you may reconsider. You have given me much hope and support the short time I have been here. Thank you for that, my friend. Peace and love.

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Mark thank you for sharing and trusting all of us with your thoughts. I am in tears here... you were one of the first people to respond to me when I joined DF and you always seem to be there for so many. the posts on your day to day life and feelings have taught and shown so much. I can understand that you are tried and don't want to face another surgery  or hospital stay. I struggle daily to keep going and that is without other major medical issues on top, you have shown tremendous courage and tenacity. If you do decide to follow the road to the end I hope that you can have a peaceful journey and that you can finally rest.

Hugs.
C.

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Posted (edited)

Mark,

I am a long time DF member who has changed my user name several times. Sometimes I pop in for many weeks..sometimes just for an evening and don't return again for months. This is a place I've always felt comfortable. I've shared this story here many times. I have lived with chronic pain for years, along with PTSD and a long list of physical and emotional disorders. My birth family was abusive and dysfunctional. About five years ago, like you, I simply had enough.  It was not only for myself that I knew the time had come to make my exit. My wonderful husband was showing the signs of the strain and stress of living with a sick crazy lady. My grown children no longer allowed me near my grandchildren and wanted nothing to do with me. They were annoyed, frustrated, and embarassed with me.  I had spent my life devoted to all of them. I had nothing, absolutely nothing, left to live for. I took my time, just like you are, and carefully thought it through. I am woman of deep faith, so I also spent a great deal of time in prayer searching for God's will. When I was certain it was the right thing to do and had an incredibly peaceful heart about the matter, I set a date and made my plans for a time when I would be alone. It was important to me that absolutely not one of the people I loved would interupt, disturb, or in any way stumble upon what was happening.  I made a "bargain" with God. I want to keep all of this vague not to violate the DF rules, but essentially the plans I made protected and shielded my loved ones. If I was making a huge mistake, I told God to disturb my plans, knowing there was absolutely no way He could without intervening in a fantastic way. He intervened fantastically and early. Today my life is incredibly wonderful and I am infinitely grateful that I am here to actively participate in the lives of all my grandchildren and children. My husband and I have a lovely marriage and have been married almost 44 years. I still live with horrible chronic pain, PTSD, and a mixed bag of emotional and physical disorders. But I am a happy, thankful woman who is grateful that, even though I was peacefully positive I was meant to take my life five years ago, it never happened and I'm still here today to enjoy every day. Please consider that even though you have carefully thought this through, those are the issues as they exist TODAY. Take a quick look at how fast our world changes! Medical breakthroughs, technological advancements, legal changes. How your life looks now may be drastically different in a very short time. Please give yourself the gift of time. I am so glad I did!

Edited by rainingviolets

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I appreciate your detailed, thoughtful response. Yours is a remarkable story.

While I respect your faith, I'm agnostic. A part of me I suppose has sometimes been envious of those with that capacity. What I will say in that respect is that any kind of hope such as you describe has been in the realm of fantasy for me (the flip side of catastrophizing, if you will). Personally, and also lacking familial connections, I've found it better for my mental health if I stick to a more earthly frame of reference.

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It has been a pleasure having you on the forum @MarkintheDark.  Your reasoning for not wanting to go on is pretty sound.  I do believe that everyone has that right.  No, I do not consider suicide cowardly or incorrect. 

You have comforted me with your posts on more than one occasion good sir. 

May your death give you all the peace that you never found in life.  (Taken from the Vulcan prayer that Tuvok gave for crewman Suttor's funeral).

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A li'l Monday victory that put me a bit more at ease short term.  My SSR was finalized - a remarkably quick visit to their office to show my ID - the first check going into the account in a week or so.  I realize it won't fix things, but it's something tangible to calm my mind.

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1 hour ago, MarkintheDark said:

A li'l Monday victory that put me a bit more at ease short term.  My SSR was finalized - a remarkably quick visit to their office to show my ID - the first check going into the account in a week or so.  I realize it won't fix things, but it's something tangible to calm my mind.

That's wonderful!  I don't know how SSR works.  I hope it means you have Medicare now to help with your health care.

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Simply put, SSR is the Almighty Social Security Retirement fund/check here in the States - like CPP and OAS in Canada - the terms of which I reluctantly had to become familiar with.  Due to circumstances, I'm taking it a little earlier than usual with only a slight penalty.  To answer another question, Medicare only kicks in at 65.  Whole damn thing feels weird.

I was never able to satisfactorily qualify for disability, which I would have preferred.

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Well I am glad that you have gotten some financial relief, interesting about the Medicare I always thought that was related to income (not that I have ever bothered to look).

Don't suppose that te new owner of your place would let you stay on as a tenant when the time comes?

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2 hours ago, Tears_Always said:

Don't suppose that te new owner of your place would let you stay on as a tenant when the time comes?

My impression is he's determined to update the place.  He's playing his cards close to the chest, as well.  In my brief encounters with him, I don't get a warm, fuzzy feeling.

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