Age, sickness and death: a morbid descent into angst.

I’ve been on a downer lately, due to a confluence of things the last couple of weeks. “Age, sickness and death” is a pretty good one line summary, but if you want the full story, read on:

For starters, I’ve had a cold the last week or so. I think I"m over the worst of it, but my colds don’t end so much as they taper off; it will over the next few weeks become contiguous with the chronic ear/nose/throat congestion I have at the best of times.

However, now my wife has my cold and it’s hitting her MUCH worse. She’s 64 now, and has diminished lung capacity from previous lung infections. She’s been “any sicker and we’d go to the emergency room” sick, literally too ill to do anything but sleep, get a little food and liquid in her, and go to the toilet. I’ve had to more or less keep the house running, and if I wasn’t currently unemployed it would be impossible.

The fact is, the chances that my wife will still be alive ten years from now are poor, and in as little as five years from now she might be gasping the last of her life out on oxygen. My wife is literally my only friend in the world, and when she’s gone I’ll be alone. Unless you count my mother, who is currently 89 but who has mastered the fine art of asymptotic aging, and will probably live to be 102. The thought of my wife being gone while having my mother still around to Be Helpless and continually demand that I see, hear, act and think for her fills me with fury.

And I"M not as young as I used to be. I think 2008 will be marked as the Year I Started Being Old. I have now acquired a viciously interlocking circle of Ailments that show every sign of being permanent. I’m overweight, I have a bad knee which means I can’t walk extensively like I used to to keep my weight down, and which in turn is aggravated by being overweight. My weight gives me sleep apnea, which leaves me perpetually underrested and so of course I feel even less like exercising and more like keeping myself stimulated with sugar which… you guessed it. On top of that I now have an apparently permanent eye infection to go along with my permanent ear, nose and throat infections, meaning that I have uncorrectable blurring in one eye to go along with my diminished hearing.

All of which leads me to stare the grinning Reaper in the face. I have every prospect of the rapidly diminishing years I have left being filled with loneliness and sickness, and the realization that I’ve done nothing worthwhile with my life. And finally there’s going to be the last day, after which I simply will not be any more; the thought of which when I truly contemplate it leaves me sick. I’m reminded of the episode of Red Dwarf when Kryten, having professed a belief in Android Heaven and asked whether there’s a Human Heaven responds “That’s just a comforting lie humans tell themselves so they don’t go insane at the thought of their own deaths!”

Well none of this is new of course, it’s pretty much what all of humanity has faced since the beginning of time. I don’t have much of an answer except that you have to live the life you’ve got as best you can. I just wish things didn’t suck so much. Thanks for letting me whine.

Lumpy, I hope you and your wife feel better soon. I expect that the ensuing discussion in this thread will be better suited to MPSIMS than the Pit, though. I’ll move it over.

Oh, do I hear you.

If I may add one thing about the exercise? I, too, have many things I can’t do because of spinal arthritis and injured knees that can’t take impact. I was astonished when my physical therapist showed me the numerous exercises that one can do sitting or even lying down!

I can’t help you with the rest. Well, I could offer the usual cheerful platitudes, but that would probably be more irritating than helpful.

Do you have a CPAP machine? It did wonders for my energy levels, and my attitude towards life. Chronic sleeplessness can cause depression, so I’ve heard, and apnea itself is extremely hard on your heart.

Being isolated like this probably has a lot to do with why you’re feeling so down.
You might wan to look into if there is a caregiver support group in your area (or maybe even start one if there isn’t). Or even just try to find some other group activities that you like.

You should look into Meetup.com: www.meetup.com. Making some new friends will help you out immensely.

As for the whole ‘doing nothing worthwhile thing,’ that’s not true and I can prove it. You love your wife immensely and with great passion, therefore you have actually done the most worthwhile thing in life.

Dude. There’s nothing I can say to assuage your fear and the desolation that you feel. Hang tough. That’s all I got, but be sure I mean it from my heart.

Lumpy, I don’t know what your financial situation is, but is there any way you and Missus Lumpy can get a campervan, or even a station wagon and a tent and get your arses out of maudlin-territory to somewhere warm?

There’s a whole unofficial ‘movement’ here in Australia called ‘The Grey Nomads’ where retired couples fritter away their kids inheritence by becoming gypsies and travelling all around the country following the sun and the cheap campsites. It may not cure your physical ailments, but getting out and living to the max (and taking risks) is a wonderful placebo all the same. You may as well get OUT there and die as while away the time being depressed.

Good luck to you both.

I’ve no advice Lumpy. Your comments remind me though of the old line about “terrible food and the portions were tiny”. Also, where would all the calculators go?