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When my father died I asked the doctor what was the cause of death. He said it was from ODTAA. Not being familiar with that, I asked if it was some type of weird condition or disease. No the doctor said, it means “One Damn Thing After Another.” That is why I think our bodies are like automobiles; when the thing starts breaking down and its one damn thing after another, we get rid of it. With cars we can trade it in for a new one but we don’t have that luxury with our bodies. But to a large extent the thought process is the same.
With both, hope springs eternal. We hope that the old jalopy can make one more trip but at some point the fear of breaking down on the highway overtakes our hope and we know it is time to trade in the clunker. Even though hope is not a plan, for too many hope is THE plan – and then fear happens – and then a decision has to be made. It is at that point, when your fears outweigh your hopes, that you become motivated to develop a plan of action based on something other than hope. Fear or hope, what matters most to you?
To answer that question you must know your fears and your hopes. When it comes to death and dying, what are your biggest fears and concerns? (Physical or emotional pain, dying alone??) What would push you to stay alive? (Attending your daughter’s wedding, seeing a grandchild graduate, watch the Cubs win a World Series??) What trade-offs are you willing to make to achieve your goals.
The purpose of this exercise is to assist you in articulating an answer to these questions, to enable you to find an answer within yourself and to encourage you to discuss your answers with the person who will eventually be called upon to make medical decisions for you.
This by the way is not a final exam. It is the start of a process and one that will continue until the ole clunker can clunk no more.
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