In medical school, I was struck with how precious and precarious health and life are. In the hospital, I saw many patients at what is called the “end-stage” of heart failure, dementia or emphysema.
They were no longer able to do many of the simple things most of us take for granted: going for a walk in the park – or a walk up the stairs, singing their favourite songs – or recognizing the loved ones they were talking to, and enjoying a deep satisfying breath.
At the end stage, their medical care was no longer curative; in fact, progressive deterioration and impending death was certain. The goal was comfort.
I also saw younger people with life-threatening injuries or overwhelming acute disease, and at every age, I treated patients with incurable cancers. Many would not see the full, long life we all expect.
By the time I completed my internship and became a practicing physician, my reverence for life informed how I lived my own life.
I took nothing for granted. I was determined to make the most of each day – to enjoy each day to it’s fullest, to make the most of each patient encounter, and to treasure the people I loved.
If today was your last day, would you live it any differently? Would you spend less time watching TV . . . and more time touching and talking with the people in your life? Would you eat each of your meals more mindfully, savoring each bite as if it was your last? Would you spend your time looking in the mirror, looking out the window or getting out the door and seeing the beauty in your world and in others?
Would you treat people any differently? Would you say the things you’ve been meaning to say?