The unthinkable


As Mike walked with me through the cavernous hospital lobby, he went on about DNR requests and patients’ advocates and insurance papers and drug schedules. His mom was nine floors up, lying in a bed after a driver crossed the interstate median and rammed her in a head-on collision. She survived, but had major injuries and severe pain.

I told him I wasn’t planning on being back in a hospital anytime soon. He said, “That was Mom’s plan, too, and you see how that’s working out.”

snoopypizza.gifMy life has the basic safety measures: good diet and exercise, a savings and retirement plan, health insurance, more insurance, car with seat belts and airbag, etc. But the next steps are still in progress, not quite done: a will, a living will, a concrete bunker hidden in the mountains.

You get the idea.

Taking on a mortgage was a big step toward a long-term commitment. Heck, you could say the same thing about renewing magazines for two years at a stretch.

I usually confront the big things head on. And yet, I have loose threads dangling.

Maybe it’s the folly of (a not-ready-to-call-it-quits) youth. Teenagers don’t think about such things, because they’re immortal, untouchable. Thirtysomethings don’t think about such things because that veers dangerously close to the realm of personal responsibility.

(Terrific. Two inappropriate vehicular metaphors in two paragraphs. Here comes a third.)

I often invoke the bus-hits-me-tomorrow example. When I worked at the newspaper, I wanted people to know the big plan and how to run things in my absence, in case I got hit by a bus tomorrow. When I justify a mature and safe choice, I follow it up with, “Or I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.”

Again, you get the idea.

So call it a blind spot or two. I can plan ahead, but I haven’t covered everything. A tornado might take my home and I can rebuild, but if the doctor is about to put me on a ventilator …

Yeah, hard to think about. And yet, I must.

Tough choices with no right answers, except for me. Not making a decision is still a decision, one with more than the usual number of unintended consequences.

No one wants the unthinkable to happen to them. Some people plan for it, just in case.

And I need a bit more time to work it out.


About this entry