Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Updated me

December 31, 2011

I have receive a couple of messages telling me I haven’t changed my (I think it is called) avatar picture. Well there is a good reason for that, I don’t know how. way back when I started the blog, the picture I have on there was the most recent I had of myself. At that it was a couple of years old. On my about page for quite some time has been a more recent picture of an old goat and a cute chick. If you are curious check it out, I am sure you will immediatley be struck by the amazing likeness between Tom Cruise and myself. lol

I had planned a bigger post but life is getting in the way. Will try to add more to this or do a new post later.

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Celebrating the life of a friend

December 29, 2011

This morning Vi and I were privileged to be able to join in and experience something totally unique to me anyway. I have written of the passing of blogging friend Meg, this morning was her funeral.If possible we would have attended in person. Europe is just to far for us to travel so we I suppose you would say we participated in a virtual funeral.

We were provided with the time the funeral would commence and a copy of what was Meg’s favorite piece of music. At the  appropriate time Vi and I were seated here at the computer, listened to the music. I have it playing in the back ground now as I am typing. We each said a short prayer and then talked about how Meg had in such a short time had become so dear to us. Of how she had helped us both in better dealing with our own situation. OK,our cups were just filled with coffee but we drank a toast to remember and celebrate a wonderful life.  Meg, you were a blessing to us both and to countless others I know. You are missed.

Meg had left specific instruction with her solicitor which included the message she left for me, which I included on a post. These instructions included that while I would be provided with details as to the funeral arrangements (time and Meg’s favorite song with would be played. It was asked that I keep that private not sharing it on the blog. I request I have honored. This morning though I received another email for said solicitor (Isobelle) stating Meg had left another message with her to only be opened on the day of her funeral.In it she gave me permission to talk about funeral as it was and how it affected me. I wasn’t prepared for that but affect me it did. I just need some time to really digest it all and will write about it soon.

I had written asking for an address to which I could have flowers sent and am touched by the reply that came for that:  “Meg had requested that there be no flowers today but that anyone who inquired about sending flowers be told either to donate them (or a sum of money) to any local hospice or, and I believe she is following your example here, to perform a random act of kindness in her memory.” For Vi and I that is what we will be doing.

I have a lot more to say on all of this. I am sure I have people looking at me and shaking there heads thinking thoughts like: “come on Bill, how can you mourn the loss of a stranger. You didn’t even know her. You exchanged emails and chatted once but that is it. Shake your head and get over it.” Now that is a valid point and a true statement about the limited contact. Now, let’s be clear. I am saddened at the loss of a friend. Am I devastated to the point of verging on depression of something?  No, but still saddened and left changed forever.

I don’t know how to explain this. Here on the blog it seems I have opened my heart welcoming in all. All of you my blogging friends are deeply cared about and carried around in this old heart of mine. You are all that special  to me. No one that leave a comment or even just visits the blog is just a name typed on the screen. I know there is a real live person behind that name and I do care about that person, YOU

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – My Christmas

December 28, 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and are having a joyous love filled festive holiday season.

Huh, a thought just hit me as I am sitting here. As Christians we see Christmas as a very special time. It is to mark the birth of Baby Jesus. Sadly, the reason for the occasion seems to be lost on many but that is not my thought right here. It is a traditional celebration through which we put up with and even “battle” the crowds in the various shopping centers searching for that just right gift. OK finally to my thought. What is you are a follower of one of the other Great Faiths. I don’t know this but I imagine to some Dec. 25 is just a regular day. I am trying to imagine their frustration levels as they put up with the crowds in the stores. Never thought of that before.

Had a quiet but very good Christmas. Vi worked Christmas day so I was home alone for most of it. Went over to Vi’s mum’s for the big traditional meal at about 5:00, delicious. They say you “better watch out” you know the carol, santa is always watching to see if we are being good or bad. I think I must have fooled him as he was indeed very good to me.

Our festive celebration part was actually on boxing day. Daughter Shauna, hubby Jake came with Shauna carrying my very young grandchild. Now this grandchild is so young Shauna is still actually carrying him/her in her tummy. We were joined by friends Bruce and lily with their daughter Amanda. It was a very special time. The meal Vi prepare was delicious as always with there being enough food to feed about 20 extra people.

I have started on a couple of extra posts, the deep feelings kind. Will try to get them up shortly.

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – MERRY CHRISTMAS

December 25, 2011

May all my dear blogging friends and any that may come accross this message have a wonderful Christmas. May this day be one of love and joyous giving. May that special feeling of warmth carry with you all through the upcoming year. I hope and pray all will take at least a few moments to recognize and appreciate the true meaning of this day.

DyingMan’s Daily Journal – Passing of a friend

December 24, 2011

For a while now I have been sitting here staring at the computer screen. I am saddened and at a loss for words. Maybe numb is a good word to describe it. It some how amazes me how we can grow to care for our cyber friends. These are people we have never met and realistically never will meet in person.  Some how through the power of words typed on a computer screen friendships and bonds are developed. I am so very grateful for the friendships the bonds I have with each and everyone of you out there.

In the past few posts I have written about one of you my blogging friends. I have written about Meg. Meg, a 42 year old woman, was fighting the final futile battle with cancer. Meg’s husband and only child have previously passed leaving her totally alone to fight this battle. Meg,  then totally threw herself into her work becoming a workaholic, not taking the time to make friends to accompany on this difficult journey. Work became her life, leaving her feeling she had no life when cancer robbed her of the ability to work as the doctor she was.

Meg and I exchanged an number of emails. Plus, Vi and I chatted with her once on the computer via skype.  We each knew the seriousness of the health condition of the other. Hey, let’s face it when I pass I am sure it will be all over the blog letting her and everyone else know. How would I know should something happen to here.
Emails would just stop coming and I would be left wondering not knowing. Meg advised me that as she really had no friends she would ask her solicitor to let me know via email. I was totally shocked this morning to receive that email:

Dear Mr Howdle,

I have been retained to act on behalf of Dr Megan…….

It is with deep sadness that I  write to inform you that Dr ……… ended her life yesterday.  In her final correspondence to me she asked that I let you know how very grateful she was for the time you spent with her.  I have copied her message to you below.

Hi Bill,

Please don’t cry.  Don’t be sad for me.  I simply couldn’t bear the loneliness any longer, especially knowing that this would be my last few months of life.  The silence of my life was bigger than me in the end.  If this was another time, another place then I know you and Vi would have absorbed me into your family but sometimes circumstances intervene and stop us from having what we need so desperately.  My dreams were small; a human voice to laugh with, to make the tough stuff easier, a hand to hold when the tough stuff was too tough, to know that in this life I was loved and that I mattered, not as Dr……. , but as Meggy.    There is a wonderful quote from MacLeod’s book, snapshots on a journey, which says, ‘None of us know what it will be like when the time comes. But we know it will help if people are with us on the journey – people not frightened to listen to us, who will not leave us to negotiate the last part of the track alone’.  That is what you gifted to me my precious friend and I would ask this one last thing of you: please never question the remarkable gift you are giving to anyone whose life is being touched by death just by being you.  Don’t devalue what you do, don’t underestimate it, don’t forget what a wonderful gift your human presence has brought to many others, simply cherish it and each other.  When you remember me, remember me with love.  The poem below may help you with that.

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

with my love and gratitude

meg xx

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Words of the dying

December 22, 2011

My last post contained a touching, heart breaking message from blogging friend Meg. Since receiving that message I have tried to contact her several times (email) and have had no response. I hope and pray all is well. As to the no response, I realize she is in the midst of an extremely difficult time and I understand from my own experience. There are times when I am not feeling all that spry and just want to be left alone. There are times when energy levels just won”t let you do all you would like to. This whole dying thing can be/is upsetting and stressful.  It is a private issue that ultimately we must deal with on our own terms, in our own way. I think the best that can be done at times is to just stand back allow the person their space, respect the need for privacy. BUT, at the same time ensure they know loving support is right here and available at any time. I ask please keep the loving messages of support coming to her. Meg, you are in my heart, thoughts and prayers. I/we are here for you when ever you need us.

Well, I got this far in my post stopped to run for a coffee and decided to check email when I got back. In the time I was gone in had come a reply from Meg. She has such an elequent writing style as she describes her journey,her current situation.
A situation we will all find ourselves in. Circumstances may differ but many of the feelings will be the same. Or, at least I can so easily relate. She is sharing thoughts and feelings of such a deeply personal nature, I just have to share so we may all benefit. so many of my  own thoughts and feelings are described in a manner beyond any wording I could come upwith.

Hello Bill

I read your blog and the comments left by your bloggers while i was awake during the night.  the tears streamed down my face, especially at the comment along the lines of ‘holding you in my heart, wish it was my arms’.  I ache for human touch, a hand to hold, an arm around my shoulders.  Imagine you were locked in a room by yourself.  This is no ordinary room.  The walls are made of glass.  You can see people walking around going by there daily business but you can’t hear them, can’t touch them, and they look through you as if you are invisible.  You know that you have to stay in the room and it will get smaller and smaller each passing day until there is no room to breathe.  every second of every minute of every day you yearn to be with those people you can see around you.  And yet you are locked in this box, neither seen nor heard.    That box is my body. Now don’t get me wrong, Bill.  I take heart from the messages left in support on your blog, more than simple words on a computer screen could convey.  But imagine living a life where you do not hear another human voice for days on end, where your phone never rings, where you are completely physically alone.  that is my existence now.  And yes, I do wonder where I went wrong for while giving myself to my patients and accompanying them on whatever journey they were embarking on in leaving this world ultimately secured them a peaceful and ‘good’ death, I came home to a silence that was deafening.  when  my husband died I hid in my work because the pain of grief was too much to bear.  so, I am 42 and there isn’t anyone to physically hold my hand on my own final days and it has left me wondering, what have I got to live for?  why am I prolonging the inevitable death that lies in the days, weeks or months ahead?  And i simply don’t have an answer.  i have dreams; dreams of opening my e-mail to loads of messages, so many i wonder how i will ever have time to reply, dreams even more so of coming home from the hospital or hospice and seeing the red light flashing on my answer machine, a friendly voice, someone to chat with about anything and everything, some people to share my life and theirs with, mutual love and support.  Now you and Vi have come into my life and for that I am so grateful.  But i am also wary of burdening you with my pain.  My protective self comes to the fore and I think, ‘Bill has his own troubles and so many people to e-mail and respond to’.

Today I met with my consultants and each and every one of them cried when talking of my decision to discontinue any and all treatment and tests.  I wondered who the tears were forWere they for me, for what they knew of my professional career, or for themselves in facing the death of a patient who, quite frankly, is still quite young?  Each hugged me as I left but none will be there for me ‘outside of office hours’.  Perhaps that is where I went  wrong in my career.  I was there ‘out of hours’, my most vulnerable patients had my home phone number, my mobile, my e-mail and my pager and knew they could use them whenever they needed to.  Most only reached out in crisis and most talked about just having those details helped them through, how my calmness calmed them.

Today on the way home from the hospital I carried out what could be my last act on this earth in tribute to you my friend.  It was a random act of kindness.  There was a homeless man sitting by the bench at the entrance to the hospital when I went in.  On the way out I stopped at the hospital canteen and bought him some sandwiches, a banana and a large coffee thinking that if he was there when i left I would give them to him.  As I approached him I thought of you.  Instead of giving him the food and coffee and heading home I gave him them and sat on the bench with him while he ate.  We sat for almost two hours while he told me his story, how his life had ended up this way, his hopes, plans and dreams for the future and how he talked of the old friends lost when he was made redundant, lost his home and everything he owned and how he had made new friends who had fallen on hard times.  Let me tell you there is a real sense of community spirit amongst the homeless in Edinburgh!  As I went to leave he thanked me for my time and I squeezed his hand and told him it had been my privilege, an honour to share his time and hear of his life.  I hope in some small way I made his day better.

So, my friend, I am sorry if this is something of a ramble.  Remember to hold on tight to each other.

my love,

meggy xx

Kind of makes you think doesn’t it? Reading a message like this, does it help put your own problems into prospective?

Dying Man’as Daily Journal – Prayers Please

December 20, 2011

A few posts ago I wrote of the loneliness that comes with knowing you are dying. This is in no way intended as a slight to the wonderful, loving and supportive care givers in this world. It is just a fact that ultimately this is a journey that we know ultimately from a worldly prospective we will face alone.

Over the time of this blog I have been truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people. I am a blessed man, I am a lucky man.This may be hard for many to understand but in the world of the living dying, you can develop a special bond or kinship with another in your situation.

I have written a little about our blogging friend Meg. It is for her that I am asking for the prayers please. Meg  has been fighting cancer for some time. It is a losing battle and is nearing its end, stage 4. Meg is alone in this time of need and when I say alone I do mean alone.  In private email messages from Meg she has helped me tremendously. She has a great wisdom about her. I will be sharing much of that wisdom in posts to come. Meg has given me permission to post any of her messages. I am doing exactly that. This is the message I receive this morning.

Hi bill
Please don’t worry about me, save  your precious energy for those around you.
I have decided to withdraw from all  future treatment and tests and accept the path nature has chosen from me.   I believe our last breath does not come with the death of our physical body but  rather our last breath is the one we take when we are still the person we have  experienced ourself as, the person we lived as, not the person we have become  through illness.  My last breath came  along time ago.  While my  physical pain is well managed it is my existential pain, the pain of loneliness  and meaninglessness, that is crushing me.  I can only hope that  without continued medication and tests that my last physical breath will come  peacefully and release me from the existential agony of my life.  I  wonder often where I went wrong in life but realise that illness scares people  who are consumed with the activity of living.  My heart aches with  sadness.  I am living the existential pain of death and I no longer  want to.  I’m simply not strong or brave enough to fight.
I want to thank you for everything  my friend.  I suspect you are a kindred spirit  and one I have been  honoured to know.  Pray for a quick end for me my friend.  my energy  will likely suffer but I will try to follow your blog and reply to your  e-mails. 
much love


Meg has no family what so ever. She is totally alone in this last battle. I ask please for prayers and an out pouring of loving support.

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Stressed over Christmas

December 17, 2011

I just can’t seem to believe how fast time is passing. I suppose sleeping  a good part of the afternoon may well explain how it seems to just shoot past.

Talking to and listening to others this past while, it seems for many if not even most the approaching festive season, seems to bring out at least a little anxiety or even dread to some extent. now this has nothing to do with the reason we celebrate Christmas In the Christian world it is celebrated as the day Jesus was born. Every year on Christmas day I have my own little thing, a short prayer just wishing Him a happy birthday. To me anyway it seems in the world this the real reason to celebrate is becoming lost in all the other happening of the day and those leading up to it.

It seems so many of us have almost a “Norman Rockwell” picture in our mind of how Christmas should be, a huge loving family gathering  The entire family has gathered in a loving, festive manner and all is right with the world. Loving feelings are shared and felt by all. Now, it that is indeed going to be your Christmas, I think that is wonderful. i just hope you realize how truly blessed you are. What I am saying here about Christmas I believe would also apply to people of all the other great Faiths and Religions.

That is the kind of Christmas we want and are envious because we “know” that is how “everyone” else will be celebrating the season. I have to wonder though is that really how everyone else will be celebrating the season. Some yes, but the majority I don’t think so. Why is it I don’t think so?

First off let’s just look at simple geography. A mere 50 or so years ago families were not spread out as far and wide as we are today. In days gone by people/families settled, got jobs usually within a relatively close distance from home. Getting home for Christmas or any occasion was so much easier, often just a relatively short drive. Today not so easy and can be very costly. Distance and cost can make it impossible for all to attend.

What about stress? How does that affect our Christmas? We can wear ourselves out to the point of just being too tired and fed up with it all to enjoy it. Instead just looking forward to getting it over with. How many days, weeks or even months do we spend roaming the stores, battling the crowds, looking for that perfect gift? All that time, effort and energy looking for that gift that may or may not even be appreciated. How much stress and pressure do we put on ourselves doing that? Is it any wonder we are just to worn out, too tired to enjoy the day? Is there any wonder we can often feel so let down. All that time and effort and in one day it is just over and done.

Hey, then there is preparing the big meal. Does anyone feel stress racing to get the big meal/feast prepared, wanting it all to be just perfect. All those hours preparing, cooking and baking. Wonder why you are too tired just too worn out to enjoy the day, irregardless of who is around you at the time.

I just shake my head thinking, we do all of this to ourselves to have a good time on “the day. Again I say this does not just apply to Christmas to can apply to any time, occasion or event.

Christmas like any time is what we make of it. Suddenly realize you do nt have time to prepare the meatballs for the Christmas dinner, do not get stressed just think, Oh well, I ran out of time and let it go at that. Stress about, did I get the right gift for…. let it go. You did your best, let it go. Some people are impossible to shop for and others will never be satisfied anyway.

Suppose you do have a loving family group that will all be gathering. If everyone shows up tired, stress and therefore likely cranky, how enjoyable is that time likely to be.

Relax and enjoy the time.How are you going to spend your Christmas or what ever celebration your faith may have at this time of the year

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – oops with the chat room

December 13, 2011

I thank those that joined me on the chat line. It was great. I am not all that tech savy, surpise. I seemed to have hit a button and lost everything. Sorry abut that. Will be back on about 9:00 this evening. Again thanks to all

Dying Man’s Daily Journal – It is a great day to be alive.

December 13, 2011

It is my birthday and I think the title of the post pretty much says it all.