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Monday Sober Thread: Decisions, Decisions

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrFrylock, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. DrFrylock

    DrFrylock
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    I have an elderly relative who is currently in the late stages of a long degenerative dementia-based disease. It's sort of like Alzheimer's, but the progression is different and less predictable. Let me tell you, this has not been a decade of fun for anybody involved. She has few living relatives, and so a few of us are managing her care together, but it's a lot of work.

    Now we are having to make a lot of those decisions you hope you never have to make on this person's behalf, and wrestling with all the philosophical, moral, and ethical issues that come along with those sorts of decisions. She has an advance directive that was made when she was still competent to make one, but it is extremely poorly written and open to more different interpretations than a Kubrick film, and is completely inadequate for the kind of disease she has.

    Protip for you guys: when making healthcare decisions for yourself in advance, BE FUCKING SPECIFIC. You will likely put shit like "terminal disease" and "can't decide for myself" and "extraordinary measures" in yours. That's great. What if you have the kind of terminal disease that will kill you in 12 months, not 12 days? What if you are still capable of answering 'yes' or 'no' to medically-relevant questions like "do you want us to treat this" but you can't understand the question or you answer it inconsistently? What constitutes "extraordinary?" Some things are obvious, like putting you on a ventilator or giving you radical surgery, but some are not, like minor surgeries or putting you on powerful drugs that will extend your life but may have some unpleasant side effects.

    FOCUS: What is the hardest decision you've ever had to make? How did you make it? Are you happy with it? Would you do it differently if you had the choice?
     
  2. ghettoastronaut

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    On this note, a cancer journal from journalist Mike Celizic: <a class="postlink" href="http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38771115/ns/today-today_health/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38771115/ ... ay_health/</a>

    This paragraph, in particular, hit home:

    Some of you know I'm a pharmacy student and I'm spending a lot of time lately learning about how to treat diseases and conditions that nobody wants to get. Right now I'm on chemotherapy induced side effects (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, mucositis, anemia, neutropenia...) and fuck I don't want to deal with that shit. Frankly most of the time I'm in sheer denial about what I'm learning, and pretend that the only thing relevant to me will be how to not get women pregnant (which I've been pretty good at so far). But this paragraph above really kind of hit it home: no matter what you do in life, we always turn out the same. I thought it very strange and depressing and mystifying that the sum total of one's experiences ultimately came down to deciding the terms on which you wanted to die. Thank fuck this guy at least was able to choose those terms: it seems the men on my dad's side of the family don't go out with their mental faculties altogether intact. Between the alternatives, it makes Philalawyer's point about setting out to sea with a bottle of liquor and a pistol and some dignity left much more appealing.

    As for my decisions, well, I'm 21. All of the "big decisions" I've made turn out to be rather small ones in the end. I mean, sure, I've made a few decisions that are going to have massive impacts on the rest of my life, but, well, everyone makes those decisions and they need to be made at one point or another, so they're not really that big a deal. It would be far worse if they weren't made at all.
     
  3. JoeCanada

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    I'm in the process of making my first "big" decision.

    I started in an education program this year to become a high school teacher. During my last couple years of undergrad I was kind of bummed out that I had no idea what I wanted to do, then I took a year off after I graduated and still had no idea what the fuck I wanted to do. That's not unusual, I know, but it depressed me. Up until that point I did everything "right"--got good grades, played sports, etc., and then all of the sudden I was just drifting, going nowhere. I hated it.

    So, I went into teaching. It was the only thing I was completely qualified to start doing, and since I couldn't fucking think of something I really wanted to do, I applied and got in. Lo and behold, I don't like it. "Fine" is the best word I have to describe it.

    Last summer, well after I applied and got accepted, I started playing bass with my friend who is a crazy good guitar player/singer, and I. fucking. loved it. And not just in a "hey, this is neat!" kind of way, more in a "look at the clock and realize you've been playing for four hours" way. Something about playing music just clicked with me, immediately. And I'm good at it! Now I constantly feel like school gets in the way of music; as if I have my career and hobby backwards. One day I was sitting in class and just started thinking...

    What the fuck am I doing here?

    That question has been going around in my head non stop since, and there is no real answer. I'm here because... my mom wants me to be? I'll have a job that I don't think I'll hate in two years? There's a girl in my class who is just impossibly good looking?

    Those answers are all true, but they are nowhere near good enough. Plus, that girl is already married (you gotta lock that down).

    So fuck it: I'm dropping out after this semester and moving to Nelson, where my guitar playing friend is in his last year of music school. I'm going to make up for lost time by playing bass all day with him and his music school friends, and by summer we're going to start playing as many shows as we possibly can.

    I'm 23, single, and I inherited an investment that pays enough for me to scrape by on while I'm not making any money starting out playing music. I've been complaining for three years about how boring and without purpose my life is, it's time to fucking do something about it.



    Or maybe I just read too many of Tucker's "go for it!" posts on the RMMB... who knows.
     
  4. Disgustipated

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    My mother died of metastasised lung cancer in March. After three rounds of chemo, in December it manifested in two brain tumours. Despite some immediate and aggressive radiation therapy (you can't do chemo on the brain), they continued to multiply. They put pressure on the emotive parts of the brain and wildly changed her personality.

    When she wasn't asleep or dozing, which was most of the time, she regressed to an almost child-like, selfish state. It wasn't long before she lost her powers of speech; but having known the woman for my entire life I could tell what was behind the eyes. Thankfully, there was no pain but when she was awake she developed this pervasive air of greediness and temper. As much as she could handle, tantrums were common.

    My father is a hard, hard man. He has little humour, negligible compassion and less sympathy. However, this absolutely broke him in ways I have never seen. It was all the harder for him as he had lost his first wife to cancer at a young age.

    My mother had put together a comprehensive health care directive, but dad just wasn't able to make the decisions that had to be made. So, my brother and I had to make the decision to put our mother into a palliative care unit where they just upped her morphine dose until nature took its course. They don't talk about these things, but it's the most humane thing to do. She'd indicated she'd never wanted to go into one of those places, preferring to stay at home until the end where it was comfortable. It just wasn't practical by that stage as she could hardly move, and dad wasn't capable of looking after her; emotionally or physically.

    Despite knowing it was the 100% right thing to do, it broke my heart; compounded because my mother was my only immediate blood relative. It was, and felt like, giving up. I don't know if she understood what was going on at this stage, but she never showed it. Dad managed to put the barest of brave faces on but he was just a zombie for those few weeks. We all knew she was never coming out of that place.

    I cried my eyes out on the drive to the hospital when my brother called me to say she'd died. Not for her, because I'd already prepared for that and knew she was better off. I cried for myself because I felt like an absolute shit for putting her in that place, despite it being the right thing to do.
     
  5. Matty Light

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    I am only 22 years old, but I do believe I just made the biggest decision of my life thus far. I am about to get out of the Marine Corps after my obligated five years of service. I joined right after high school so I could have my college paid for when I get out. In 2006, nobody could have told you the economy would be like it is now though. A college degree means nothing when nobody can find a job. Anyways, I was offered a job from a company that is willing to pay me a six figure salary starting out (I am a Middle Eastern Linguist) but, I also want to get my bachelor's degree. If I accepted the job, I would have to leave the country six months out of the year, which doesn't mix well with the fact that I am newly married. So, I have decided to just go to college using the new GI Bill which pays for my tuition and apartment while I go to school.

    Hopefully I can find some way to make enough money to pay the rest of the bills while I go to school, which in this economy is a large order. Obviously, I am still unsure if this was the right decision. For those who may ask, re-enlistment was never really an option I even considered. I appreciate the opportunities the Marine Corps has provided me, but the "Marine Lifestyle" is just not for me. Five years was long enough.
     
  6. Noland

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    I had to decide what suit my father should be buried in.
     
  7. Samr

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    Fuck that article. Let me repeat this again for emphasis: FUCK. THAT. ARTICLE. I was having a great morning until I read that.

    Jesus christ this post wasn't even going to be about those decisions until I read that. But since we're on the topic, that guy essentially pulled the plug on himself. I've almost been in that position, and my instructions were basically along the same lines; I didn't want to be hooked up to a machine after surgery, because that to me wasn't being "alive." The point of life is love and enjoyment, and if you lose those abilities, what's the point? This was actually one of the easiest, most cut-and-dry decisions I ever made. I had just turned 19.

    [On a related note, I have always, always been a firm supporter of clinically-assisted suicide for special instances (such as the one above). PM me if someone wants the youtube link to a video wherein you literally watch the person die peacefully through a "suicide machine" or whatever you call it. I had to find the video for a presentation I did a while back. It's incredibly sad, but it gives you something to think about. ]

    - Most difficult decision was when I was 20. Had been dating my girlfriend for a few months, was very much in love, and gradually had found out the extent of her psychological problems. A few days after she pulled a kitchen knife on me during an argument, I knew I had hit the proverbial fork in the road. I don't normally smoke, but I went out and got a black n mild and sat on the porch for an hour or so. It was decision time. I was in love with a woman who had a history of suicidal tendencies (and a few attention-hungry "attempts"), anger, was basically bi-polar on a daily basis and suffered from deep depression. If I broke up with her, I was positive of two things: 1) her depression would get worse, and 2) I would have lost the woman I was potentially going to marry. If I stayed with her, I was in it for the long haul. It was "handshake time" with her, and if you make a handshake, as a man (as least as far as my principles go), you DON'T go back on it. For better or for worse, I was staying with her until something drastic and outside of her psychological disabilities came into play.

    At the time, I made what most would view to be the worse decision. Then I went to Barns and Noble and bought every book I could find on bi-polar people and those experiencing borderline personality disorder (from research, the two disorders she most displayed). Not to suck nuts, but Dr. Rob's blog was also a tremendous help. And I got her better. Her therapist said her services were no longer necessary (ironically enough, that therapist is now a co-worker of the one I see, and also, I later found out, a loyal customer of our services). She cut back her medicine, moved in with me, and roughly six months later I proposed.

    The aftermath is that she is now my wife, and because of several circumstances I will probably talk about at a later date, she eventually saved my life. I have absolutely zero doubts that if it were not for her, I would have killed myself. I can say that logically, without emotion, and factually, since the risk of it is now well passed. It would have happened, as it came pretty fucking close even with her by my side. Turns out, depression hits even those who have learned how to fix it. Who woulda thunk?

    The hardest decision I've ever made was also the best decision. Because of it, I found my love and enjoyment.

    FUCK that article.
     
  8. whathasbeenseen

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    I'm in the middle of a hard decision that is making itself more and more simple:

    My older brother is going through a rough patch, stuck in a cycle of the past and being unable to forgive himself and other people. He's a big guy and likely to hurt himself or someone else.

    I am moving out of the country to begin a life with the woman that I love. My family want me to forgo my own plans and my own family to nurse maid him through the winter in of all places, hell on earth, Detroit, Michigan.

    I thought about this for all of 5 minutes. I'm not going to Detroit. I love my brother. But I'm not married to him and my wife comes first. If he dies or hurts someone, I'll feel guilty. But I'm not willing to risk my marriage on that bet. Selfish? For. Fucking. Sure. But eventually you have to live for yourself.
     
  9. audreymonroe

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    The worst part of my life was when I was 12-15 (which, actually, had a lot to do with these types of decisions being made without me, but also other things that were entirely out of everyone's control). I was really going downhill rapidly and totally fucking up my life. When I was 16, I decided that I wanted to turn myself around, because it was a bit early to ruin everything. Bit by bit, I cut myself off from self-destructive behavior, stopped doing drugs, stopped stealing, stopped hanging out with the "bad crowd" (and severed a bunch of friendships that I still haven't quite gotten back to normal in the process), got the balls to dump the boyfriend I didn't even like anymore and had known so for months, and tried to change my outlook on life from "it's terrible, so why bother?" to "I, of all people, know how short it can be, so I might as well make the most of it." I'm sure other people can relate to entirely revitalizing your life, but it is fucking hard. My willpower wasn't the greatest then (hence all of that shitty behavior) so it was a really difficult process to stick to my decision and not slip back into anything bad for me the moment I started to feel sad again, and it was definitely harder (and less cowardly) than just letting go. Thank god I did, though, because ever since then, I've basically achieved whatever I've put my mind to and I fucking love my life. Every now and then I think about what would have happened if I just took the easy route and given up, and the image is awful. I want to go and pat my sixteen-year-old self on the back.
     
  10. Juice

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    I had to testify against my best friend in court. It wasnt my decision to testify, but it was my decision whether or not I was going to save his ass by what I said. He had gotten caught driving under the influence of cocaine. Over the years prior he had developed a horrible addiction to the stuff and very few people stuck by him, just me and my other 2 friends, not even his parents would. He had been in and out of mental institutions because of manic depression and suicide attempts at the same time as his addiction developed. For his trial, he claimed that someone laced something he ate with coke and had no idea he had taken it. I was called to court as a witness on his behalf because I was at the party he left from and had to decide whether or not to lie about what I saw. I decided to completely throw him under the bus. My friends and I all told the judge about his usage and that he needed serious help. He was sentenced to 6 months mandatory rehab or goto jail for 3 years. Sadly he blew off rehab after the sentencing and went to prison, and hes there until the end of 2011. I still dont know if I made the right decision by taking that route or if hell ever talk to me again. I guess even if he doesnt, itll be worth it if hes alive.
     
  11. Nettdata

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    In the early 90's, I owned Apple stock. I hummed and hawed about selling it to buy a new Jeep.

    After today, I cried a little bit, thinking about how I probably could be retired now if I'd held onto it.


     
  12. Nettdata

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    On a more serious note, the two biggest decisions I've made in life have been:

    To be self employed.

    To not have kids.


    The first one is probably the hardest to deal with. No job security. Basically eating what you kill. It's not for everybody, but personally, I can't see it being any other way until the day I die. Even a 2 year contract working for someone else is enough to make me want to kill myself. Luckily, that shit's worked out for the better, overall.

    I'm now single, and have no kids. I've realized that my family name will die with me, as there are no other males in my part of the family tree to carry on the family name. That kind of makes me sad, but really, I'm absolutely OK with not having kids.

    Some people look at you like you're broken, or missing out on shit, but I'm OK with that. Call me a selfish old bastard, but I enjoy doing the stuff I do, and have no regrets.

    And I have a few nieces and nephews coming along that will fill that potential void just fine, thank you very much.