My dear friend Pat is visiting with me and this is a day out of our time together. Since we are both close to the same age, we have similar concerns. Health is a major concern. What happens if we have some major health problem? Lots of people in our age group have them, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, etc. Where do we go in case of an emergency? For Pat, it is even more of a problem because she lives in San Blas which is over an hour and a half to a town large enough to have a hospital, Tepic. But the advantage of being in an area where there are few expats is that she receives better service. The hospitals are not overwhelmed by older expats, like here. IMSS does not have as many rules as they have here. Once a person is registered on it, he/she can use it immediately.
Pat's health care plan is to keep herself as healthy as she can by eating good food and exercising daily. . I try to do the same but I am more of a worrier. I think about what would happen if I had a stroke or heart attack. Heart attacks run in my family. So this is something, unfortunately, in the realm of possibility for me. Pat has better genes. Long lived and healthy relatives. No matter how hard we try to hold off disease and death, much of it depends on our genes.
My friend Diane tried to encourage me to have an end of life health care plan where I assigned someone to have the power to pull the plug if I were hooked up to machines. So far, I am not brave enough to do that. To actually accept that I might one day be in that kind of situation. But I know it is an important thing to do. It certainly can't be done after the fact......
I guess the hardest thing to do is to think of oneself as not being in control of one's body or circumstances. I remember many years ago a situation where that was brought home to me. I was teaching English in Japan. It was winter time and very cold. I had only been there a week and I got back to my apartment around eleven at night. I didn't have my house key. I didn't speak Japanese. I didn't know my neighbors. I was standing out in the cold by my front door and all of a sudden it dawned on me that I had to do something to take care of my body. My body had become a very physical entity. I didn't know what to do though. I felt helpless. (I finally realized that I had the phone number of another teacher in my purse. I called him and he told me how to take the train to his house where I slept that night. Without that number I guess I would have become a frozen statue on my own doorstep.)
We each have to make our own decisions about taking care of our own bodies. How much of our energy and time are we willing to put into preparing for our deaths? Maybe none. Maybe we just live each day to the fullest and when death comes we accept it. I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of hanging on between life and death after having a stroke or being so disabled from some other disease that life is unbearable. So these are my thoughts at four a.m. As I wait for the driver to take me to have tests at the IMSS hospital. Tomorrow I am going to the spa with Pat. It will be a much nicer day.
One more thought on this subject. I met a woman here several years ago who has a disease that is causing her a slow death. An inherited disease. I hadn't heard from her for a couple of years since a telephone conversation when she had become bedridden. I thought maybe she had passed away and then a few days ago she called me again. From her sail boat! She bought a 28 foot sail boat, taught herself to sail and sailed from Miami to the Florida Keys... She is living on it there now and planning another sail soon. She said, Death is going to have to chase after me......
I love that attitude.