A while back I was doing a Google search on some articles relating to health care in America, for a post I’ll be writing in the future. As is the case with many of my searches, clicking on this link leads to clicking on another link, and sometimes I find myself so deep within the bowels of the information highway I’m not sure I’ll ever find my way back to where I started. One such adventure lead me to a blog called “Running A Hospital”, which piqued my interest, for obvious reasons. The post that day was talking about insurance reimbursement issues, and the author used as an example a patient with scleroderma, a rare, terminal, autoimmune disease. She spoke of this woman’s incredible courage and the phenomenal blog that she had created. It is called “Diary Of A Dying Mom”. So of course, I clicked on the link to her blog. I have been absolutely blown away by this gal. I am mesmerized by her ability to articulate what she is feeling, by her love for her family, by her selfless gifts to them, by her strength, her courage, her sense of humor. After reading the first few posts (reverse-chronology) I decided to go back to the beginning of this particular blog and start there, to follow the progression of her illness, and her thought process. There are some people with whom you come into contact who have a profound impact on your life and your thoughts. Let me tell you, this woman has touched my life in an incredible way. Some of her entries are not for the faint of heart, as she is obviously dealing with a very debilitating disease. I have laughed and I have cried as I have come to “know” Michelle. There was one particular post to which I felt compelled to comment. Part of what I said to her is that she is not only teaching people how to die, but most importantly, she is teaching people how to live. You’ve perhaps heard the question: “If you knew you only had three days to live, what would you do?” Followed by: “So why aren’t you doing it?” Michelle doesn’t know the day or hour of her death, but has had a very long time to prepare, and to prepare her family. Yes, parts of it are very sad, and though I’ve never met her, I know I will feel my own personal loss when there are no more blogs to read. However, the inspiring, encouraging, humorous, courageous and yes sometimes-frightened, real-person outlook that she has far outweighs the sadness I feel when reading her blog. I look forward each day to seeing her post… though I fear the time is coming when there will be no more posts. Today’s entry states that she is entering in-patient hospice for a few days to get started on the program, then return home. Below I have copied the profile portion of her blog.
I'm a 39 year old mother of 2 battling a rare autoimmune disease called scleroderma. Until December, I was a professor in the School of Public Health at UNC. I deal with the topic of death head-on in an unflinching way. I believe that, as a culture, we shy away from anything surrounding death and, consequently, deprive ourselves of all the lessons inherent in the dying and grieving process. We ignore the reality that death is as much a part of life as birth. My posts cover the gamut of human emotions because, as an Italian American, I have always had a "rich" emotional life. While many posts are sad just as many are comical. This is not my version of "The Last Lecture." It is my heart, my thoughts, my joys, and my fears as they unfold along this journey. My hope is that you will find some of it useful on your own life's journey. I hope that sharing my experiences will help not only those struggling with terminal illnesses but also those who are blessedly healthy.
I invite you to visit her blog, Diary Of A Dying Mom, get to know her, pray for her, and reap the benefits of her profound wisdom on the process of not just dying, but living! [Of note- know in advance that her language at times is strong, and her religious views might not coincide with yours or mine. Your ability to look beyond these differences will determine the degree to which you are blessed by her.]
Thank you, Michelle, for the lessons you have taught me. My prayers are with you as you enter this phase of your journey. CathyB