I went to Janine’s funeral yesterday. Janine was a long-term BigD friend, who’d been dialysing for 15+ years. The BigD community (recipients, their families, and clinicians) is a long-term proposition, like a special interest club. We all have a common interest (kidney stuff), we spend time together (no matter what!), we learn from each other and some of us become close friends. Janine was a gold-class club member.
Anyway, I digress. Another funeral. It was both sad and uplifting. Ken, her totally supportive husband was there, propped by their two daughters and their six grandchildren, and many, many friends. It celebrated the fact that Janine was wonderful, bright, positive and well loved. It was a great goodbye.
On another level, it got me thinking. Janine has left the club. As I see it, there are only three Ways Out:
- Get a transplant and stop dialysing (for as long as it works)
- Die and stop dialysing
- Stop dialysing and die.
I’ve had experience with the first Way Out: two transplants, one from a live donor (my wife) and one from a cadaver (more about those in another post). It’s our choice to accept a transplant or not, but a spare, matching kidney is hard to come by, so we usually grab it with both hands.
Obviously Way Out 2 is out of our control (Janine died from complications following a hip operation). Once we die, we join the rest of the universe in not requiring dialysis (or anything else as far as I know).
Way Out 3, on the other hand is entirely our choice. Stop treatment and we’re out of the club within a week. For young and healthy dialysers (like us), it’s no option at all. When this Way Out was pointed out to me, I gave it the wry smile it deserved. However, when you’re older, a lot weaker and sicker and your life is a painful, pointless struggle, it may become a valid option. Some have called it the only benefit of club membership.
I’m sure some have exercised their option. Made preparations, said their goodbyes, arranged their affairs, eaten and drunk their favourite food and drink, chosen their hymns and departed.
Currently I’m only a fan of Way Out 1. The other Ways are always there, but I tend to forget or disappear them until days like yesterday. Not that I’m rushing for any Way Out. It’s a good, supportive, life-giving club and I’m happy to stay an active member.
It’s just that every now and then I think it’s healthy to review the whole picture and what I feel about it.
What about you?
This post jumped the queue because it was timely and needed to be said. Keeping your Brain Sharp # 4 will be the next post.