The Wall

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The Wall

Dr. Colin Dicks

MBChB, FRANZCR, MBA, MSc Palliative Medicine.
February 14, 2019

I was speaking to a friend who has incurable lung cancer. He commented that no matter how positive he tries to be, his doctors are usually negative. He would comment” I am going to beat this “ and they would either not respond or respond by denying this possibility verbally or nonverbally. After all no one beats stage- 4 lung cancer!

He was hurt by the apparent lack of compassion or caring. Why don’t doctors help patients who are trying to overcome impossible odds? Is it because they don’t care? Most doctors care deeply about their patients. It is their inability to deal with death that creates the problem.

There are no solutions to dying. There may be ways to slow its arrival or occasionally cheat death. It is possible to effectively manage the symptoms associated with dying. Regardless of the timeframes and circumstances we all eventually die. There are no exceptions; we all hit the wall of mortality at some point.

My friend with lung cancer is probably going to hit the wall before me. I am expected to hit the wall before my children. Millions and millions of people have gone before and billions will follow. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the wall: it is there, dying it is a fact and it is going to happen. There are no doctors that can solve this problem of death. Expecting them to places an unkind burden on the shoulders of mere mortals.

If hitting the wall is unavoidable, why do we spend so much time and energy fighting it? Why do we spend so much time looking in the other direction and pretend the wall doesn’t exist?

Spend more time and energy doing something useful. If your journey is ending, make someone else’s life easier. Have fun. Forgive debts. As you focus on the lives of others and generously contribute to their success, the wall does not seem so big after all. In fact it becomes possible to start to imagine what lies on the other side of the wall.

Can you imagine?

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