PHOTO: a bright pink Oregon Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form or POLST for Thomas Kraemer POLST registry number OR19943 is shown next to a refrigerator magnet that is supposed to be followed by emergency workers who enter my house and by any hospital or other health care facility that may be treating me. It specifies "do not attempt resuscitation (DNR) and allow natural death (AND), No antibiotics, no artificial nutrition by tube. See previous posts POLST for Thomas Kraemer OR19943 (7/3/10) and Obituary for Thomas Kraemer (1/4/12).
I performed a Google search of my own blog to find my previous post POLST for Thomas Kraemer OR19943 (7/3/10) on this topic, but I decided not to read it before writing this post -- perhaps after writing this post I will read it and add any observations about the words I wrote nearly four years ago.
My first thought, after the passage of nearly four years since I had a POLST signed, is that I still have no intention (or courage, as another person thought I might lack) to commit suicide and my motives are only still the desire to die naturally without having futile heroic medical procedures performed on me that do not result in me being able to live independently and to enjoy life. Clearly, if somebody invented a way to repair the ischemic stroke damage that has made me legally blind and weak, then this blog post would instead be a summary of my learning about the treatment and also my decision to risk seeking the treatment or how I figured out how to pay for it.
My sensitivity on this issue is that most people, in my experience, assume you are "just depressed and want to die," if you are not heroically trying out every possible cure, even though the "cures" are making you sicker and weaker and are only causing healthcare costs to rise significantly for everyone. I have also been guilty of dismissing others' near-death feelings as only being "they are just depressed." Of course, with truly depressed persons, ignoring their cries for help can leave you with a guilty feeling that you were the one who pushed them over the edge and so I can forgive people for asking.
My second thought concerns my gratefulness to God, or my intelligent designer as the case may be, and to all of the people in my life who have made it worth living and who have allowed me leave behind a small contribution toward making Earth a better place for future generations, or more humbly I hope at least not a worse place.
My third thought recalls my experience witnessing the death of other people, including deaths of strangers I met dying of AIDS in San Francisco and the adjacent Silicon Valley when I was living and working there in the 1980's during the peak of the AIDS crisis just before HIV, the virus believed to cause AIDS, was discovered and also during the time when gay people were being blamed for being responsible, due to their "homosexual lifestyle," by both religious preachers and mainstream national politicians, including our U.S. President Ronald Regan whose movie actor friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS. Until the anti-retroviral HIV drug treatments were discovered in the 1980's, acquiring HIV often quickly led to visibly dramatic symptoms and death. I clearly recall walking along Castro Street in the gayest neighborhood in San Francisco in the 1980's and seeing one after another victim of AIDS being heroically rolled around in wheel chairs by their friends and families who had not abandoned or disowned them to die alone.
All of my life experiences, both good and tragic, have taught me that no matter how bad things might actually be, complaining about it is futile and in some cases it can hurt people who have greater needs than you do. I also learned that going into denial about bad things, just to be polite and put a happy face on things, could be just as futile and also harmful to people who are searching for a more positive solution.
Finally, after rereading my current post and previous posts on this matter, I will confess that my words sound similar to other people I've known just before their own death, when everybody close to them commented on how "philosophical and religious" the person had became shortly before their death. Hopefully, this post is not a bad omen and confirms this theory. I certainly do not mean to offend or harm anybody.
As a token gesture, to counter the assumption of others that I've given up, I would like to layout some short-term goals I hope to achieve, both before and after I become unable to continue writing this blog. My first goal is to write my traditional year-in-review post in December and also at least one post in the year 2014 so that I can say I was able to blog from 2006 to 2014. Then, when I can't use this blog as a tool to compensate for my blindness and infirmity anymore, I hope to develop or acquire some new methods to continue on with my life as long as possible. Of course, I will reach my limits based on how much pain I am willing to endure and how much I am willing to let go of my independence by letting other people do things for me -- it is hard not to feel guilty that you are receiving such help when other people exist who are more deserving of help than you are from the standpoint that these other people could go and lead more productive lives.
Also, during 2014 I would like to make sure that my Oregon State University Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement continues to be legally set up properly for funding at the maximum level possible. For example, I am investigating the Schwab Charitable service as one of several things that I could use to lower current taxes and maximize my future charitable donations to the Oregon State University Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, which I legally set up a number of years ago and that is planned to activate fully upon the death of me and my spouse. As part of my estate planning, I want to make sure that my IRA is amortized in equal monthly payments as soon as possible to reduce the taxes due from it by avoiding the required distributions that become greater and greater over tine and taxed at the full income rate.
. See previous posts Obituary for Thomas Kraemer (1/4/12) and OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12).
With that all said, I will end this post on a happy note, even though, of course, I would feel free to do otherwise!