Living With Immortality

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“To himself everyone is immortal; he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.” – Samuel Butler

Every day I watch my elderly patients struggle with their loss of independence, the certainty of their own mortality.

Today was terrible. My patient to who is in her 80’s and has travelled the world, looked at me with bewildered, pleading eyes.

Can’t you make this stop?

She was in for a hospital follow-up, her third so far this year. Her last overseas trip was just about nine months ago. She is coming to grips with the fact that travel is over for her. Her world is shrinking.

“Getting old is awful, Doc.”

Yes. Yes it is.

I had another patient tell me once that she had thought she had escaped wrinkles… until she had her cataracts done. “Doc, I cried for days and days when I saw what I really looked like!”

What are the positive things about growing older?

No more periods (but that comes with hot flashes). Grandkids (if you like them). Retirement (if you can afford it).

I would love, love, love to hear about the positive things you have discovered/learned for yourself or heard from others. I need some encouragement as I am getting older, too!

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37 thoughts on “Living With Immortality

  1. I like the European mindset of getting older. You get wrinkles, so what, it’s a part of aging.
    What Carrie said….Not giving a damn what other people think. I hope that my the time I’m 80 I will be forthright and ballsy. I plan to start smoking cigars, by then it won’t matter. Some things are worth waiting for.
    Glasses. The beautiful frames nowadays. Love wearing glasses. I cheated and wore prescription free lenses until I needed glasses only recently.
    Wisdom. Some though no matter how long they are here never achieve this.
    False teeth. You get to clean your teeth by sticking them in a jar overnight. No more flossing!
    Luck. You’re still here!

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  2. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    What are your positives about getting older? I gave up most of the bad habits at age 39 or toned them down to try and stretch my lifespan out a little further… I am 61 now and very comfortable in my own skin. It is what it is. However, I have made a promise that if I reach 100 I shall take up everything that I gave up to get there!!! Yippee….

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  3. Its fascinating the lengths to which people will go to live forever (well attempt to do so). The inventor, Ray Kurzweil and other Transhumanists believe that individuals can, eventually become immortal by downloading their consciousness into an artificial brain and continuing to live on in an artificial body or via some form of internet. His books, including The Age Of Spiritual Machines make for interesting reading.

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  4. I’m relating to the woman with cataracts. Remind me to stop getting new glasses. Years ago when i couldn’t afford a new TV or cable for decent reception, I’d just take off my glasses while watching TV — that way i couldn’t tell that it was all static and blur! 😀

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  5. I would assume the gained wisdom (hopefully), and experiences. Also, as I get older, I notice you care less what people think or say, you really come to terms with you, and embrace it. So I can only imagine where I’ll be when I’m 2-3 times my current age!

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    • I have enjoyed the being taken seriously as an “adult”. A 40 year old saying “Hell, no!” carries quite a bit more weight than a 20 year old saying it, as it turns out! 🙂 I am sad when I think about how much time I spent on self loathing over my appearance when I was younger, though. I wish I had been able to enjoy what I had then! I would love to have that body back NOW (minus the hair)!

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  6. Finally understanding the truth of “don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.” One thing I love about retirement is the gift of time. I didn’t have enough of it when I was young and working full time. Now I can exercise and take care of myself, spend precious time with friends and relatives and read all I want. My pets get great attention. What I don’t do is worry about how clean my house is. In fact, I try not to worry at all.

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  7. I was a scared little baby until I was about 40. Now I’m less scared 🙂 I like being in the friend part of having kids. I was never any good at disciplining them and now I don’t have to. I almost died once–nearly bled to death– and was awake the whole time. I noticed how incredibly good people can be to strangers in intensive care (especially doctors and nurses). It happened in my thirties and I appreciate each day and most people etc but I still hate wrinkles.

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