Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Some What-If Scenarios

English: Titanic is sinking in Mime Misu's In ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I see no benefit in wishing that things had turned out better. That’s a waste of time and an emotional drain. However, I do have an active, albeit MS-addled brain, and lots free time on my hands, and so my mind wanders. I find myself imagining, just for the fun of it, how things might play out under different circumstances. For example…
Question one: What if Kim had come down with MS instead of me?
This would have been a disaster. I am so much better suited to have MS than Kim is, and Kim is so much better suited to be a caregiver than I am. Don’t get me wrong, Kim is a tough cookie and would have found a way to cope with MS, had she contracted it. But she has no love for sedentary activities and has difficulty relaxing. In contrast, many of my interests are sedentary, and I’m quite adept at kicking back and taking it easy. Furthermore, Kim is a natural caregiver – it’s in her DNA. I think I would have been an adequate caregiver, but I don’t possess her rare combination of empathy and energy.
It’s best for each of us, and for our marriage, that it worked out the way it did.
Now let’s ramp the discussion up a notch to another subject I allow my mind to ponder at times. Warning – some of you may consider this second scenario borderline morbid, in which case I advise you to stop reading here (I’m talking to you, Carole).
Question two: Imagine if Kim and I were the last two people on a sinking ship. There’s only room on the rescue helicopter for one more of us, and the other will certainly drown. Who should be saved?
I would insist that Kim go on the helicopter. She, being the empathetic person that she is, would insist that I go. Many people in committed, loving relationships would behave similarly. So, although these would be noble gestures on our parts, they would not be particularly unusual for the circumstances. But I would have reason and logic on my side, instead of merely love, duty, and compassion.
Here’s what I mean. If Kim were to live and I were to die, yes she would be left without the love of her life. But she would most likely enjoy a long, active, independent, healthy life, and one freed from the burden of caring for her devilishly handsome, but significantly disabled husband. She would almost certainly remarry, probably to a doctor, lawyer, or wine sommelier. However, if I were to live and Kim were to die, I would be left without the love of my life and without my primary caregiver. I would likely endure a shorter, more difficult life than Kim would, and I would (will) suffer one health problem after another. I would be completely dependent on paid caregivers who may or may not treat me with the TLC that Kim does and would not necessarily have sex with me. It’s conceivable that I could remarry, but I wouldn’t be exactly the most eligible widower in town, iBot wheelchair or not.
I’m not being heroic or romantic here. I’m being practical. Therefore, Kim, I don’t want to hear any argument from you in the unlikely event that we find ourselves in a sinking boat scenario. I’ve already stated my position clearly; now get your ass in that helicopter!
Two clarifications:
First, I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to live if Kim were to die. I would find a way to marshal on. It just wouldn’t be pretty.
Second, I am by no means implying that my life is not worthy, that Kim would be better off without me, or that the lives of disabled people are less valuable than the lives of healthy people. I’m only making an assessment based on the scenario presented and an honest appraisal of our probable futures.
Readers, do your minds ever wander in this way, or is it just me?

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  1. A friend lost her caregiver to cancer just before
    christmas. She's in a wheelchair as well but has a
    small, very supportive group of friends and relatives
    who are helping her out while she decides what to do next.
    I've wondered too, what would happen to me if my
    husband were to die an early death, but so far he's healthy. I'm not in a wheelchair
    but certainly have my mobility issues
    and lots of others too.
    I hope we both stay lucky with our partners
    for our duration on planet earth.

  2. When we spend so much time with our own thoughts this is one thought of many that others without specific obstacles ponder. Can you imagine without the internet where we'd be!

  3. there was a scene in the movie Titanic when Jack and Rose are trapped in a rapidly flooding room, handcuffed i think to a railing or something. Rose gets free, and goes off to get help. When we saw that, Alison told me that, although she loves me, she would probably not come back for me. I, like you, would insist that Alison get on the helicopter, for the same reasons you have.

  4. I think of these scenarios, too. I agree that I'm better suited for being disabled, but it's because I have a tad more patience, and I'm more inventive. Also, I'd make a lousy caregiver!
    I don't think Titanic, but burning building. First of all, we'd never make it out if we both tried -- I'd muck up any progress. And if left alone, I'd soon be sent to "Shady Pines Nursing Home!"

  5. Diane,

    I think people living in places such as Canada, like my friend Weeble, have many more, and less expensive, choices for assistance. In fact, MS is kicking her ass even worse than mine, and she is able to stay in her home by herself because she has so much professional help, in addition to her personal support system. I’m jealous.


    I’m very thankful for the internet! I don’t know how I would have stayed sane without it.


    I remember that scene! Good example.


    Yes, patience too. I’ve got more of that than Kim. Shady Pines sounds wonderful. Do you get green Jell-O for dessert there?

  6. Mitch,
    You know better than to tell me to don't do something, of course I read the whole blog,I read them all,no matter how sad some of them are to me. Love you, Carole

  7. I think about this too, especially now that my husband is fighting cancer. We figure that between us, we have one fully operating brain and one fully operating body. Oddly, that works. He freaks out about it way more than I do, and especially when my back goes "out."

    I'm pretty much one to take it as it comes but still, every once in a while I wonder if it would even be possible for me to get out the big garbage and recycling containers by using my scooter!

  8. I was going to say, "It's just you, Mitch," but apparently not.

    I am clearly the better one to have MS in our relationship. I have far more patience, like you, I am content doing sedentary things, and I don't mind being catered to (Not that he ever does that).

    He is the better caregiver in many ways; things medical don't daunt him, and he has a fairly good understanding what we're dealing with.

  9. Carole, saying to you "whatever you do, don't press that red button" pretty much guarantees that you will press that red button!

    Daphne, cancer? Damn! As if life wasn't interesting enough.

    Webster, you bring up a good point about a person's comfort level with being catered to. I definitely have more of that than Kim does as well. She would argue that I have too much comfort being catered to.

  10. I totally get where you're coming from, Mitch.
    Oh the crazy places our minds take us.
    I know what you mean about who "goes" first.
    I just tell my hubby that if he tries to go first I will kill him!
    It's as simple as that.


  11. Dee, nicely put! I'll try that out on Kim.

  12. This is a very timely post for me, thanks! I can't say I have such morbid thoughts, but this morning I found myself thinking about how my hospitalisation last year (with brain cancer) disrupted my children's after school hobbies, to which I used to drive them, resulting in them losing interest and giving them up entirely, and I was wondering whether there might have been some realistic way to manage some continuity for them. I think the main thing is that we should be allowed to have such thoughts without being told that they are not helping anyone or that we should be thinking of more positive things, or that we are being unreasonable or unrealistic. It's our thoughts, right? It's probably part of getting back to normal life to think hypothetical thoughts about what we might do or think if we were able-bodied again. Though I hope that when/if you get the chance to go on a holiday you are not faced with such dilemmas!

  13. Julia,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    So sorry about your brain cancer.

    I guess we should be allowed these thoughts as long as they don't consume us. We don't have a "right" to these thoughts if they are causing us health problems, mental or otherwise. But at the frequency I'm talking about, I agree with you. If I want to go down these roads once in a while, then that is completely up to me.