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Now that the final stages of death and dying are happening to me...

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Ian Reid

I have a raft of doctors.  And I now have them all over the country on account of my rare tumour and the collective expertise of the neuro-specialists at Toronto Western Hospital.


Toronto Western is where I’ll repair to in the coming weeks for a last ditch operation to extend the palliative period… ie. give me some more months before the spinal chord gives in to the tumour.  

Am I happy about this?  Not a @$$##!! chance.

So I’ve added a therapist to my crew.  It’s been a good call.

I haven’t done thorough reading about all the stages of dying but I do know there’s grief, anger, acceptance and another two, or is it four?  

I do know that I don’t know anything about the correct order.

Don’t grief and anger have to come before acceptance, logically?

Personally, I feel stuck on anger.  I mean really stuck.  

Last week I was at the gym, where I go religiously to try and keep my body parts moving, proving to myself and others that I can fight this thing.

I’m bench pressing – a very low weight because I've swallowed my pride, which normally is the size of a prize-winning pumpkin in October – but I get up to get a drink of water, which comes out my nose but I still do it because, as I’ve noted, I’ve swallowed my pride.

I wipe the snot off my chin and wander back.  There’s a member of the Jersey Shore cast putting new weights on the rack at my bench before sitting down to pump three times his weight.  

How do I know he’s a Jersey Shore cast member?  

I don’t.  It’s a lousy stereotype, but he fits it perfectly with his white wife-beater and ‘fitted’ pulled sideways on his head. The fact that he’s stolen my place at the bench-press could also be used in some courts as evidence.

I muster my full ‘15 year old insecure, in the closet gay guy’ self and confront him.  Predictably, it does not go well with the result that I slink off, full of my 15 year old self’s typical self-recrimination. Then I proceed to pound out the best set of overhead presses I’ve done in two years. 

I yell at little old people doing 20 in a 30 zone.  I’m mad at Sunday walkers walking five abreast on the seawall, impervious to the presence of others.  I rage at the rich old men with everything who call into CKNW to bitch about poor people with nothing. That’s ironic, the fact that I’m raging at the ragers, I realize.  

I’m just mad.

What to do? I wonder.

And I know that I'm not getting out of these emotions on my own.  I need help. There are people to call.  So I call.

It’s great.  Actually, she’s great; it’s awful.  I sit there full of long silences, thinking about all the stuff I want to do, about my kids, my husband, my life that I love, the work I want to do, about how ##$$!! unfair this is.  

I wallow in a mud pool of self-pity like an old elephant in a National Geographic nature special.

Then I cry and  sputter out a few inadequate sentences.  She listens, occasionally probing or offering something to ponder, which makes me think and retreat into silence again.  

It’s the old rinse and repeat cycle.

It doesn’t fix anything.  

I’m still going to die way before I want to and there’s nothing a control freak like myself can do about it.  

But fixing it isn’t the point.  Understanding it enough to get through the day is.   

(1) Comments

AlfredDePew July 11th 2011 | 10:22 PM

I've been reading your posts for a long time, always struck by your precision and candor--and--always, your courage. This is bravery of a deeper sort. I recognize it in my sister who has just entered hospice care. And I recognize it in the people I was with this weekend in CA, some of whom are working with young people in Egypt--in the midst of a revolution. And I don't know what to say, except thank you for speaking from this place. Know in whatever way you have of knowing this that we are with you, even those of us who may not have met you in person.

Oh, and this. They say that Elizabeth Kubler Ross (the Death & Dying lady) could not accept her own death in the end and was madder than a hornet. I laughed when I heard that and was deeply relieved.

You're in my thoughts and prayers, man.