Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

The Will To Live – 29 April 2010

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To live forever – an unobtainable goal – has to be measured against the obtainable goal of living a good life until we have to die.

I had never realised the strength in the will to live.  Those who have followed this blog since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer some four years ago, would have to agree that I have prepared as well as one could and accepted the inevitability of my terminal disease.  Yet, as close as I came to death a month ago, I have no indication that my time is up.

Right now, life is a struggle.  Whilst the pain is managed with opiates, and I sleep well all night, my day times are simply filling in time as I am not stable enough to participate in anything.  Due to emphysema, my breathing is shot and I am on life support oxygen most of the time.  I also need Ventolin with cortisone to help open my airways but it is a variable battle.  Things can be fine for hours on end yet simply going to the toilet can have you bent over trying to catch your breath.

Last Thursday, Anita – the District Nurse – phoned and found me incredibly short of breath.  It concerned her so much that she called back an hour later to see if I was still struggling.  I was, so she called around after lunch.  After contacting my doctor, Chris Lourensz, we turned up the oxygen supply to 4 litres a minute and that made a big difference.

Pauline contracted a bad cold a few weeks ago and, as I sleep with her, I got it too.  An X-Ray shows heaps of phlegm in my lungs.  I am on antibiotics to get rid of this muck.

Visiting the doctor is a major deal as he is located in Benalla – a 40 minute drive away – for an update and new
prescriptions.  That means an oxygen bottle and a bag of clothes in case he wants me to go to the hospital where I can get some more specialised treatment.  As it turned out, I opted to come home and return to the hospital if things turned sour.  Today has seen an improvement with little need for oxygen throughout the day.  It seems that the antibiotics are doing their job in breaking away the phlegm in my lungs.  If that works, I will live to fight another battle.  If not, I am in trouble.

My general condition is terrible as I am not eating well enough.  I have lost a couple of kilos in the last fortnight.  Of course, losing one’s appetite is an early sign that the end is near.  As the body shuts down, one has little need for nourishment.  Now, what quality of life is that?

Now, this is where I get confused.  I know that my time is running out – my doctors have told me so – and my body agrees with them.  Yet, I have no sense of approaching the end.  Sometimes, when I go to bed, I advise Pauline that I might need an ambulance before the morning.  Yet, I get through waking in a much better state.

People tell me I am one hell of a fighter.  However, I am not trying to fight the outcome.  I am simply doing what needs to be done to keep on going until the inevitable final illness overtakes me.


Written by Greg Naylor

29 April 2012 at 8:06 pm

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