After reading the book, ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande, I have been thinking about the ageing process and the effects that come with it. I have been thinking about the swollen joints, the constant aching back, the weakened strength and even the weakened bowels. However, I have especially been thinking about what if I become senile and lose control of my life?
I am afraid, afraid of losing myself. I am afraid of my brain and mind betraying me, dying and diminishing, surrendering to dementia as it slowly burns away what it means to be me, my character and my memories erased.
The body that is left behind by senility, living and breathing will not be me, or any individual for that matter. The body left behind would be just a fragment of who he or she was before. The memories of who he was are gone, the consciousness of who he will be, will be non-existent and the self-awareness of his current state no more.
I am afraid to be in that state. Existing without knowing that I exist. It is as if I am trapped, trapped inside a body that still wants to live even though its essence of being conscious is gone as if a walking zombie.
I meant no offence to anyone who has family members suffering from such a cruel disease. I too had a cousin that experienced not dementia but a form of brain degradation. I saw him change from an intellectual young man into somebody who is unaware of his own existence. It affected his consciousness and self-awareness, and I understood how much damage it brought to him and his immediate family.
He had lost his ability to be the author of his life, unable to make decisions for himself, thus, his everyday needs are met with the help of his mother and a maid. He had lost all forms of independence and every single day, it seems as if he is just existing.
I would never want to ever fall into such a state. A state whereby I lose all sense of self-awareness and consciousness, a state where all my decisions are made for me and a state where I am existing just for the sake of existing. Maybe I should warn my family, to let me go on the first chance they have, to let me die when my mind begins to slip away…
Being the author of our own lives — being independent — is something all of us cherish. It is, after all, the essence of what makes us, us and one day, it might be taken away either slowly or suddenly. Therefore, maybe we should have a plan, a decision made before we start to lose our rationality and later, ourselves.