Practice Three for Anything that Feels Impossibly Scary

  1. I have many more medical and social resources than I had three months ago. I have visited with a geriatric care manager, a sparkly, knowledgeable woman who is helping me find additional part-time household help. I met with both a doctor and social worker who are part of a palliative care team convened to help me navigate both my physical and psychological choices within my healthcare system. I’ve also made contact with a palliative care group outside of that system. I’m guessing now that I don’t need both teams but I’m not crossing the outside group off of my resources just yet. I have accepted more doctors’ appointments than I’ve ever had on my calendar before. So, yes, I am poised to absorb new information.
  2. It is even clearer to me than three months ago, that I will have to decide what and how much medication I can tolerate, or even want to. There are new drugs for cancer almost every day. My oncologist is now recommending one that he knew nothing about just two weeks ago. He says this one has fewer heart side-effects (much of my discomfort is from the side-effects of the first cancer drug I took). My cardiologist has recommended adding another beta-blocker to the one I already take. I will not do this until I talk with him because the current drug makes regular exercise almost impossible (I get out of breath walking from our bedroom to the kitchen).
  3. I now know that palliative care is broader than making end of life more comfortable. I know that it is support for all of these decisions I have made and will have to make. Knowing more about palliative care and what’s available to me feels like a safety net under me. They will not save my life, but they can help me make sense of the life I have.
  4. I know from a kind friend that my emotional instability is “normal” given the onslaught of information, physical discomfort, mysterious body functions or malfunctions, and lack of energy I’m experiencing. So, some days I cry alot. I’m not so angry right now, but I expect that may return.
  5. While I’ve known intellectually, and often viscerally that I have much to be grateful for, I experience gratitude directly on the days like today. It is more than a relief to have a day filled with hope. It is almost magic.
  6. The overarching theme of all of this information is that I’m not the me I was a few months ago. Today, this is OK with me. But remember I said that today was a GOOD day. I’ll need to be aware of what I can accept, move toward (I still WANT a future), and tolerate.



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Sara Orem

Sara Orem

Sara speaks about and facilitates workshops for older adults about vitality in the aging process . See more about Sara at