No matter how bad your life is, you still have a purpose for life. Actually, unfortunate people have more of a purpose then rich people.
A blurb about the suicide of the founder of Kodak:
George Eastman, founder of Kodak, the film company, committed suicide. In a suicide note, he wrote “I have no more purpose left in life.” He couldn’t have been more wrong. We see how much people use cameras today. Even if he didn’t feel as if he’d made any good contribution, he didn’t realize how important his contribution actually was.
A local newspaper wrote:
A homeless man lives in our town. He lives in the woods, and he roams around, sometimes going from town to town. He has barely enough money to survive. The importance of people like this is that they teach the rest of the people what a bad life really is, and they try to make it so that other people don’t end up as bad off as they are.
PROMISES TO KEEP
Readers Digest – February 2004
Of all my patients during my four years of training, Sarah Berenson was the girl I swore I’d never forget. I met her during my rotation in orthopedic oncology. Eighteen years old and beautiful, Sarah would die if we didn’t help her. She had osteogenic sarcoma on the left side of her pelvis – a “growth,” as her family doctor in Los Angeles had told her – and it might be bad. Bill Kramer, the lead doctor, and I were left to tell her that her only hope was a radical operation called a hemipelvectomy, in which we’d remove not only the leg but part of the pelvis as well.
Sarah radiated innocence and trust. This is the Mayo Clinic, her eyes said. You will cure me. Before we’d done a thing, she was already thanking us. Part of me liked this, liked being thanked by her. It was an acknowledgement of our power, our skill as surgeons. But I was uncomfortable too. Her trust placed a burden on us I wasn’t sure we could shoulder. I knew the stats. Since Sarah’s cancer was quite advanced, the best guess was that her five-year survival rate was less then 5 percent.
But I preferred envisioning her arms around me, her wet tears on my neck, as she thanked me for saving her life. I wanted to cure her. Cancer was the big bully forcing itself on this beautiful creature, and I was the guy who was going to stop it. “You want Sarah?” I imagined myself saying. “Well, you’ll have to come through me first.”
The night before surgery, I stopped by her room. She was lying in bed, her blond hair on the pillow. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. I asked how she was feeling. “OK,” she replied. I went through the usual pre-op instructions. I told her she shouldn’t drink or eat anything after midnight. Then, noticing a little card in front of her, I asked what it was. She showed me. In a neat, feminine scrips she had written hemispheric I remembered she’d asked earlier what the name of her operation was, and I saw her copying it down. “Can you tell me what this means?” she said. I tried to act casual, as if I were always asked about hemipelvectomies. “Hemi,” I said, “is from the Greek. It means half. Ectomy means to remove something. So hemipelvectomy means to remove half the pelvis.” Sarah frowned. “But I thought you were going to remove … my leg.” “Well, we are, Sarah. Half of your pelvis, and your leg.” “Oh.” She was silent for a while. Then she asked me, “Will it hurt much?” “You won’t feel a thing during the operation, since you’ll be asleep,” I said. “But most patients do have some pain afterward.” Shut up you idiot! I screamed at myself. You’re not an expert. You’ve never seen a hemipelvectomy yet. “Sarah,” I said finally. “I … well, I’ll do everything I can for you.” She smiled kindly. “I know you will. Thank you.” This was the Mayo Clinic. We would save her. The next day, the orderly came for her at 6 a.m.
SWEATING IT OUT
At the door to the holding area, Sarah’s father leaned forwards and kissed her on the cheek. Her mother stepped forward, her eyes filled with tears. They tried to embrace each other around the IV. “I love you Sarah,” her mother said. “I love you too mom.”
The orderly pushed Sarah through the double doors. I helped wheel her into a corner, where I introduced her to Luella, who was going to do the prep. While the pre-op nurse was attaching the antibiotic solution to the IV, Luella explained how she would scrub and prepare Sarah’s leg and pelvis. The curtain was pulled, and they were behind it for several moments. Finally, Luella said, “There, now. All done.” She tucked a warm blanket under Sarah’s chin and tore back the curtain.
An anesthesiologist came in and talked to Sarah about the surgery. He said that once she was asleep, he was going to put a breathing tube in her mouth. He also said she might be given some blood. Sarah lay quietly, watching the nurses scurry back and forth among other patients. “Have you had anything to eat or drink since midnight?” I asked her. She shook her head. “No,” she whispered. “Okay, then, it’s time to go.” As we entered the OR, I pulled up the mask that had been dangling beneath my chin. I docked Sarah’s cart next to the narrow black operating table, and asked Sarah to “scoot over.” The nurses and I helped her onto the table. Sarah gasped briefly at the cold surface.
Two boards were swung out from the side, and Sarah lay with her arms on them. The anesthesiologist wrapped a blood pressure cuff around her right arm while one of the nurses adjusted the IV in her left. Another nurse returned with more blankets. Soon I could see Sarah’s eyes begin to glaze over. “I’ve just given you a little something in your IV to relax you,” the anesthesiologist said. “Are you cold, Sarah?” I asked as I tucked the blanket under her chin. “Please,” she said, her voice raspy and small. Her eyes welled up with tears. She struggled to sit up. “Please don’t …” As the anesthesia began to take effect, she sank back down and closed her eyes. “Don’t worry, Sarah,” I said. “We’ll take good care of you.” The anesthesiologist told Sarah to take some big, deep breaths. Bill Kramer, the head surgeon, and I turned her on her right side and prepped her from the back to the knee. We covered everything with sterile drapes except her left leg. Bill took the marking pen and outlined his incision. Then he put the pen down and help out his hand. “Scalpel.”
LIKE A MILLIONARE
I was constantly clamping, cauterizing, and placing reactors. As the operation progressed, Bill and the anesthesiologist talked often, deciding when to give the next unit of blood or plasma. Slowly, over several hours, we began to separate the leg from the rest of Sarah’s body. Even then, Bill and I had more work to do. There was a question of how many sacral nerves we could spare. We had to decide how best to close the skin. Should we tuck this, excise that? By the time wa placed the last drain and put in the last suture, it was early afternoon. Sarah’s blood pressure was stable. She’d been given 18 units of blood. Despite the long operation, she had come through everything well. But the truth, which we’d tried to hide under the layers of sterile blue surgical drapes, was right in front of my eyes. I tried not to look, but I just couldn’t help it. As the nurses removed the drapes and I peeled away the sheets, I saw it clearly. Sarah had no leg. There was a long line of sutures across the left side of her abdomen, and below that – nothing.
Bill went to talk to the family while I applied the dressings. Soon after, we moved Sarah from the operating table to the cart. Her skin was pale and cold. The nurses covered her with blankets, and I wheeled her to recovery. Sarah’s post-op course was stormy. She ran a fever for four days and had to be seen by a urologist. But sarah was a marvel. She kept thanking us for all we were doing. She was as bright and engaging as ever. I couldn’t understand it. I thought, if I lost my leg, I would be inconsolable. I would never laugh again. I wanted to take the advice of Job’s wife – to curse god and die.
I longed to ask Sarah about it, but didn’t know how. What would I say: “Sarah, shouldn’t you be more upset about having your leg chopped off?” So I approached Annie Cheevers, Sarah’s nurse, who had become like a big sister to her. “Sure, we talk about it,” Annie told me. “And of course she’s sad about losing her leg. But she says it’s made her realize how many things she hasn’t lost. She says it’s like a millionaire who loses a thousand dollars – he’s sad, but he’s still not that bad off.” I was thrilled when, three days after the surgery, Sarah stood and took a few tentative steps on her crutches. She was pale and trembling an she looked at us for encouragement. But she was up. She was moving. Seven days after the surgery, I knocked on her door and heard Annie Cheevers’s voice say, “Just a minute.” I stood there, looking at the curtain drawn around the bed. Sarah would go home soon. She’d return for a post-op visit two weeks after that, and then she would begin chemotherapy. No matter what happened to her in her life, I knew she would find a way to stay happy. That much this young girl had taught me.
Finally Annie pulled back the curtain, gestured at Sarah, and said, “Ta-da!” Sarah sat on the edge of the bed, smiling. Annie had helped her wash and set her hair and apply makeup. She looked stunning. “Sarah,” I said, “you look … nice.” It was my turn to blush. Annie was outraged. “‘Nice’? That’s all you can say? She looks ‘nice’?” “I, uh, well you look really nice. I mean-” And they both laughed. Sarah went home a few days later. She hugged me and thanked me for saving her. Now that the actual moment was here, the one I’d dreamed of, I didn’t know what to say. I knew we surgeons had removed her leg. But I was also beginning to understand that there are some thing – hope, optimism, and unfailing trust – scalpels can never take away.
So if you have trouble, suicide is not the way out.
Be glad of the hard times. Take advantage of them. Let the tough stuff make you better. And remember, if you have a lot of problems, you’re better then a rich man who just sits around. Everyone has trouble… and the unfortunate people are the most gifted people around. You all have a purpose for living, the most beautiful part of that not knowing what it is.
Better Than Before
I came a child
A little kid
Full of fun
I went many years
I never had problems
My life is soon to change
Tons of mistakes
Learning from everyone
Many people have come and gone
Left many footprints on the heart
I’ll love you always
So much has changed
The old days are gone
There’s been so much trouble
Loss after loss
But we won’t be sad
We’ll be glad
For all the good life we had
We know that turbulence kept us together in love
Because of that
We’re stronger then before
So I’m leaving here a better man
And I can’t stand to go
But it’s not what you take that matters
It’s what you leave behind when you go.
A better man.
The ground is now firm
We’re glad for what we had
We gained because we lost
And we left good there
There’s people out there
Who’d rather have my problems then theirs
I’m glad I had a tough time
Because I’m a better man
A better man.
Because I’m a better man.
And still a better me, yeah!!!!!
If you have no reason.. really.. no reason at all to go on, then you are free to pick any reason in the world, and it’s better than nothing at all.
Hope this helps.