“Very old men told me that fear is not of death itself. They are afraid of what will happen before you die: loss of hearing, memory, friends, way of life.” What should be the old age and death – says American surgeon Atul Gawande. Excerpt from the book “we are All mortal. Which is expensive for us in the end and what can help medicine”, published by the Corpus.
Photo: Diana Kradgača photography / flog.pravda.sk
Very old men told me that fear is not of death itself. They’re afraid of what will before death: loss of hearing, memory, friends, lifestyle. Felix put it this way: “aging is a continuous series of losses”.
Philip Roth in his novel “an Ordinary man” put it where bitter: “old Age is a terrible thing. It is not a struggle for survival — it fights without rules”. Luck and perseverance — proper nutrition, physical exercise, control of blood pressure, constant medical supervision, often allow us to very long lead perfectly acceptable lives. But sooner or later the losses accumulate, and here we go for the line where everyday things are beyond us — either physically or mentally.
Death rarely overtakes us suddenly, and most of us spend a significant part of life in far too helpless to live independently.
That it is inevitable, we need to remember is not love.
As a result, almost no one is willing to decrepitude. We did not get together to sit down and properly consider how we will live, when you will not be able to do without assistance, and then think later.
When Felix was at this stage, the first in the line is not crossed it. This was Bella. I spent a few years watching how it becomes harder and harder. Felix is the same in the low nineties has maintained an amazing shape. No health complications, he was not, he still regularly worked out in the gym. Continued to teach the visiting students of gerontology and to serve on the medical Committee “orchard Cove”. Even drove the car still. And Bella was fading. She finally lost vision. Very bad heard. Her memory is considerably weakened. At dinner, Felix was forced to constantly remind her that I’m sitting across from.
They both lamented about the loss — but do not forget about the pleasures that they have left. Every time Bella couldn’t remember me and others not too close friends, but enjoyed the company and conversation, and never lost an opportunity to communicate. Moreover, they have Felix did not stop their own, not intended for extraneous dialogue, which they conducted for decades.
Caring for Bella was for Felix’s great purpose, and Bella lived in order to be near him. They found solace in the physical presence of each other. He clothed her, bathed, fed. When they walked, holding hands. Cuddled before bed and fell asleep. Felix said that they were the most precious moments. He felt that they now understand and love each other more than for all almost 70 years of marriage.
Bella needs to stay home with him
But one day an incident happened which showed how fragile and precarious their lives. Bella caught a cold, the middle ear she had accumulated fluid. This burst eardrums, and Bella finally lost the hearing. This was enough to broke linking the spouses thread. Bella had been quite blind, her memory failed — and now, when she was overtaken by deafness, Felix could no longer communicate with her.
He tried to draw her letters on the palm of your hand, but she didn’t understand. The simplest things — like dressing — became her living nightmare. Without sight and hearing, she lost all reference points, did not even know what time of the day. She did not understand, at times she was delirious or delirium. Felix could no longer care for her. He’s absolutely exhausted from the emotional stress and lack of sleep.
Felix didn’t know what to do, but, it turns out, such cases had a special system. Employees “orchard Cove” offered to take Bella in the nursing Department, on another floor. Felix hated this idea. No, he said. Bella needs to stay home with him.
Officials insisted, but then Felix and Bella got a reprieve. After two weeks of torment right eardrum Bella partially overgrown, and although the hearing in my left ear she finally lost, the right ear began to hear. The couple again were able to communicate, albeit with difficulty.
I asked Felix what he would do if Bella once again lose the hearing or fail in some other disaster, and Felix answered that he did not know: “I’m terrified thinking about what will happen if I will not under force to take care of it, he said. — I try not to think too far ahead. Do not think that will happen in a year. It was too sad. Plan for next week, not next.”
So behave people around the world — this is understandable and natural. However, for it sometimes has to pay.
In the end, the catastrophe, of which Felix was so afraid of, happened. They walked, and suddenly Bella fell.
Felix did not know how it happened. They seemed to be going slowly, the track was smooth, he was holding Bella by the arm… And she fell to the ground, and at once broke both the fibula: this long, thin outer bone which run from the knee to the ankle.
Emergency doctors had to put her casts on both legs above the knees. Something happened that Felix feared the most. Now Bella wanted a much more time-consuming care, which he himself could not provide. Bella had to be transferred to the nursing Department, where with her all day and night duty nurses and nurses.
It would seem that this should have been a relief for Bella, and for Felix, took with them the burden of physical care of yourself. But in fact, it was more difficult. On the one hand, staff “orchard Cove” consisted of professionals of the highest class. They took over almost all of the features Felix so long ago played with the voltage, washing, toilet, dressing and all the other everyday needs of the disabled.
Now Felix could do whatever wanted — Bella and himself. However, as he tried caregivers and nurses, their presence is deprived of Felix and Bella, in the presence of the spirit. Some belonged to Belle just as a normal patient. For example, Bella loved to see her in a certain way and combed your hair, but no one thought to ask about it. Felix has developed the best method to cut to Bella’s food so she could swallow without difficulty, knew how she preferred to lie and sit, as she prefers to dress. But as he tried to explain it to nurses, many of them do not understand what this is all about.
Sometimes Felix dropped his hands, and he just altered my way of their work, and this caused misunderstandings and hurt feelings. “We are each other only in the way,” said Felix. In addition, it was concerned that Bella is lost in an unfamiliar environment. A few days later he decided that she needed to return home. You just have to figure out how now to care.
They are Bella and felt that they themselves control their life
Their apartment was located just a floor above. But for some reason this all changed. Felix himself couldn’t explain what it is. As a result, he still had to pay for the services round the clock caregivers and nurses. And six weeks left before the plaster is removed, completely wore him out. But on a shower it became easier. They are Bella and felt that they themselves control their life.
Bella was home, in his bed, Felix would not leave her. All this was for him of fundamental importance. Because four days after the plaster was removed, four days after Bella once again began to walk, she died.
They were just about to eat. Bella turned to Felix and said, “I don’t feel good”. And went limp in the chair. She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Felix didn’t want to disturb the doctors. So he didn’t go with Bella, and followed the ambulance in his car. Bella died shortly after arriving at the hospital, not waiting for Felix.
“I like the severed arm or leg. A feeling that tore me in half,” — said to me, Felix. His voice was shaking, and red eyes. However, it was comforting Bella didn’t suffer, she spent the last weeks of life at home, peacefully and quietly, basking in the glow of their years of love, and not in the nursing Department where I would feel just one of the patients — alone and confused.