As we age we have more medical appointments and so my calendar is full of them. Appointments today are nothing like in the past. Thanks to the Novel Corona Virus everything is complicated. And each provider’s office has a different way of approaching safe environments for patients. Some work and some confuse.
I’ve had two virtual appointments where I can see and converse with my provider on screen. Providers use various platforms with names like “Blue Jeans” and “Ring Central.” Some require the use of nine digit numbers and symbols, some have you to sign in to a virtual waiting room, which means you wait for them to be ready for you and one had me to read and sign a HIPPA document. Life would sure be simpler if they all used one system.
I thought in-person visits would be simpler, but I’ve now had two of those and they were complicated as well. One office had me to wait in the car until they texted me to enter the building. The immunologist came into the exam room wearing a full hazmat suit and we talked. It could have easily and safely been done virtually.
The most important in-person visit was with my oncologist. Entering the professional building my temperature was taken along with my name. Then a detailed interview was performed to determine if I was at risk for COVID. At this point, wearing my favorite personal mask I was allowed to enter the elevator and proceed to my physician’s office suite. Exiting the elevator I followed directional stickers on the floor placed at six foot intervals. Eventually I reached the admission office where they took one look at my pretty mask with the Mercedes logo and told me to remove it and wear one of theirs. Of course I did as I was told. The visit continued with lab work and consultation and I was discharged one hour and forty minutes later.
I’ve sure you have had similar experiences regardless of what country you call home. I don’t care for this new normal, but I do appreciate all the attention to safe procedures.
“I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away.” George Carlin
On the day I die a lot will happen. A lot will change. The world will be busy.
On the day I die, all the important appointments I made will be left unattended. The many plans I had yet to complete will remain forever undone. The calendar that ruled so many of my days will now be irrelevant to me. All the material things I so chased and guarded and treasured will be left in the hands of others to care for or to discard. The words of my critics which so burdened me will cease to sting or capture anymore. They will be unable to touch me. The arguments I believed I’d won here will not serve me or bring me any satisfaction or solace. All my noisy incoming notifications and texts and calls will go unanswered. Their great urgency will be quieted. My many nagging regrets will all be resigned to the past, where they should have always been anyway. Every superficial worry about my body that I ever labored over; about my waistline or hairline or frown lines, will fade away. My carefully crafted image, the one I worked so hard to shape for others here, will be left to them to complete anyway. The sterling reputation I once struggled so greatly to maintain will be of little concern for me anymore. All the small and large anxieties that stole sleep from me each night will be rendered powerless. The deep and towering mysteries about life and death that so consumed my mind will finally be clarified in a way that they could never be before while I lived. These things will certainly all be true on the day that I die. Yet for as much as will happen on that day, one more thing that will happen. On the day I die, the few people who really know and truly love me will grieve deeply. They will feel a void. They will feel cheated. They will not feel ready. They will feel as though a part of them has died as well. And on that day, more than anything in the world they will want more time with me. I know this from those I love and grieve over. And so knowing this, while I am still alive I’ll try to remember that my time with them is finite and fleeting and so very precious—and I’ll do my best not to waste a second of it. I’ll try not to squander a priceless moment worrying about all the other things that will happen on the day I die, because many of those things are either not my concern or beyond my control. Friends, those other things have an insidious way of keeping you from living even as you live; vying for your attention, competing for your affections. They rob you of the joy of this unrepeatable, uncontainable, ever-evaporating Now with those who love you and want only to share it with you. Don’t miss the chance to dance with them while you can. It’s easy to waste so much daylight in the days before you die. Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you believe matters, because on the day you die, much of it simply won’t. Yes, you and I will die one day. But before that day comes: let us live.