Friday, February 10, 2012

Use-by date

“You're well past your use-by date”.

The district nurse announced this last week in a very matter-of-fact tone. I had already known that, but the way she said it took me aback and made me interested in how saying something in one way can illicit a different response. I would have said to you, and indeed have agreed many times with the nurses, that my years of yoga are what makes it possible for me to manage now. I also know my diet has had a hand. But knowing that I might have died is a different awareness than knowing I'm well past the time when I should have died. It's time I was discarded form the refrigerator of life, and I will reject the recycling bin in favour of the organic.

Over 6 years ago, my doctor discovered that my breathing had become so laboured that if I were to get a chest virus, I would immediately get pneumonia as I have no ability to cough. He made it sound as if it was imminent. But some 18 months ago he uncomfortably reiterated that I would eventually get a chest infection, which I, to his embarrassment reworded it as “He reassured me that eventually I would get a chest virus”. Meanwhile, the best I can do is get laryngitis.

After many years of no weight bearing, the calcium in my bones is leeching through my kidneys into the Pacific Ocean. I also have trouble with dead cells. The nurse was convinced I would get bladder infections, but instead, I get blocked catheters. So, I'm not going to die of kidney failure.

When I got the pressure point on my bum, the nurses were convinced I would get septicemia or, at the very least, the ulcer would get bigger and go into the bone. Instead the ulcer is shrinking, and the wound is clean, now free of the necrotic tissue.

These are the truths I live with, truths that indicate that I am doing better than would be expected. You can see why I was a bit startled to be told I was well past my use-by date.


  1. What a crass thing to say to you. Although it holds a grain of truth in it, it's not something one needs to hear. Would she say the same thing to, say, Stephen Hawkings? I wonder when her use-by date is? Has she outlived her usefulness, at least to you?

  2. Hear, hear to the comment by 'Webster', Feb 11.

    What the district nurse missed was the freshness of spirit Diana brings to us all. I would say the nurse's spirit is in grave danger of going 'off' or 'sour' or even 'bad'.

    Use-by date indeed! What a negative approach to the complexities of the great gifts of life and love which Diana possesses in spades.

    1. I wasn't concerned at what the nurse said, because I already knew. It was maybe just an infelicitous way of saying it. I have known this particular nurse for several years, she is bouncy and very upfront and I have a lot of time for her. It's interesting that people are shocked by the phrase, but not by it's meaning.