I remember thinking, back when I was pregnant with my first child, that there was absolutely no dignity in pregnancy and childbirth.
Virtually from the moment you conceive until after you've given birth, you're poked and prodded, having to endure painful exams..... leading up to the ultimate in physically-painful experiences: labour and delivery. By that point you've really been exposed -- in front of God and everyone -- while at your most vulnerable.
It's a miracle that I eventually gave in and decided to have a second child after all.
Up until now, I had figured that childbirth was the most humbling of medical experiences anyone could go through. But I now know that I was wrong.
There is even less dignity in aging.
Chef Paula Deen once proclaimed in a TV interview that, "None of us are getting out of here alive, y'all," and we, of course, know this to be true. Death is inevitable.
I've heard many people debate on what's worse: being taken very suddenly without any warning, or having to suffer through a long, drawn out illness before eventually succumbing to the inevitable.
I'm not yet sure which of the above I would "prefer", so to speak, but I do know that having to watch a loved one suffer can be as equally excruciating as going through it yourself.
I brought my mom into the ER over a week ago, where she underwent an emergency procedure and was then placed in "isolation" for the next 4 days. That label has now been lifted, which basically just means we no longer have to gown up when entering her room, but still she remains in hospital.
The entire experience has been horrifying for her, and she's asked that no visitors be allowed to come in. Not because she doesn't appreciate everyone's concern, but because she feels she's been completely stripped of her dignity.
A month or so ago she was strong and was shovelling her own snow. But today she's unable to walk (or do other, more personal, things) unassisted. And, due to the severe emotional stress of being in hospital and facing her own mortality, she's now developed tremors whereby she has difficulty with speech and in feeding herself.
Naturally, this only adds to her anxiety. It's a vicious cycle.
My daughter has come to visit her in hospital a few times now, which makes for an interesting contrast. Was my mom ever that youthful, energetic, and full of life? And will my bright-eyed daughter one day have her beautiful spirit taken away from her, too, by a debilitating illness? It's painful to think that this is how we'll all eventually end up.
While none of us know if she'll fully recover from this illness, it is somewhat reassuring to know that there are a few nurses here who are caring for my mom as if she's their own mother, too.
(I'm not going to lie, though -- there are also a couple of cold, uncaring nurses here as well. And that makes me homicidal.)
At this point, all we want again is to have some normalcy and for things to go back to the way they were before. I just hope it's not too late for that miracle to occur.
Life is beautiful, but the end of life is not always so.