Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Little talks

I often struggle with whether I should be writing about philosophical/life stuff on here. Originally this blog was created to talk about a stage of my treatment process beginning in 2008, three years after I initially got sick. It then evolved into a standard and probably boring bike racing blog. I hoped to get too busy in medical school to even think about writing on this blog, but I've found myself extremely repulsed and repelled by that particular option (i.e. getting too busy with medical school to stop thinking/feeling/writing/riding/racing). So now when I sit down to write, I try and strike a balance between writing about the realities of a 30-something-guy with a family who lives with cancer in his lungs and bone but also write about stuff that I really love, like bikes, bike racing, food, and occasionally movies/books/beer/music. The reality, I would argue, is that it forces one to confront a very real mortality. As I've learned at every doctor check-up and scan, hoping for the best but being truly prepared to hear the worst is the only legitimate strategy of forward progression. It makes me feel pretty damned scared, occasionally peaceful, slightly carefree, but always very human.

Anyway, I read this piece today and wanted to post. It's worth thinking about:

Top five regrets of the dying (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)
A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Are you trying to tell me something? :) I agree that all of those regrets are things that can be addressed now, but man some parts of life seem hard to change.