How we are dying

I agree with you in general (when you’re dealing with people, the individuality is the important thing. (Although I would say things like sugar and ciggs are only part of it. Around that time our entire diet started going down hill, largely owing to the modernist predilection of thinking we could improve upon millions of years of co-evolution and create better foods (margarine as a replacement for butter? Seriously?).))

But when you’re dealing with public policy, statistical measures are probably the most appropriate.

But sometimes I wonder about the statistics too. As an example, my mother had lung cancer when she died, but she was 86 years old. So from a statistical point of view she would probably be “another one killed by smoking,” but I actually think of her as dying of natural causes, 'cause 86. After all, we all die eventually.

When my mother died, she died. The doctors wanted to eek out a few more miserable months for her via chemotherapy, but she refused.

I hope I’m that strong if I ever face that decision.


I worked on an end-of-life cancer care study a couple years ago in which we revealed millions being spent on chemotherapy in the last 2 weeks of life. As well as MRIs and other heroic measures stuff.

Sure, lots of people don’t want their loved ones to die, but chemo in the last 2 weeks of life as a regular, measurable thing that happens more than a handful of times? Oh man, we’re sunk if we think this is good medicine.

Sorry your mother died that way, because it was probably very painful. But I think you have the right perspective about her 86 years, strength of character and personal choices toward the end.

I don’t believe that is true. When I was growing up people in their 50s looked old. I don’t mean that in the way that children think that their grandparents are ancient, i mean that they were wrinkly and not looking good in terms of health. Now their children are 50-60 and they do not look as in bad shape as their parents did.

Assuming no long term illnesses, it will only be your last five years that will be bad, regardless of whether you die at 60 or 90.

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Honestly, you already know. You know yourself. It’s a Hollywood cliche that people act uncharacteristically when faced with a crisis, but the reality is that you will almost certainly adhere to form.

The fact that you can recognize your mother’s fortitude so lovingly gives you a clue.


Your level of man hate fails in the face of reasonable logic. My wife is the person I spend more time with than anyone else, be it day to day, year to year. It is only logical that she is going to be the person that causes me the most emotional changes than anyone else in my life, be them good or bad. So reasonably your spouse is the person that you are going to feel the strongest emotional states for be them positive or negative.

I love my wife dearly, but there certainly are times that she grates on my ever last nerve. And the same goes for her toward me.

And to put it on topic, my wife and I have both decided that is we make it to 80 that’s good enough. If one of use starts showing mental degradation past that age then we’ll find some way to move things along. We have both watch our grandparents wither and die slow deaths because of mental issues - it’s not something we want to be a part of. (Notably modern medicine doesn’t help in terms of being able to solve little issues that could easily build to bigger ones and kill people.)

I’m betting that had to due with the type of work they did most of their lives. My grandparents were farmers, so they looked old mostly because of sun exposure and a much more physical lifestyle. (I said looked old, but they certainly were physically fit and active.)

Maybe, but I also don’t see as many people wandering around with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths as I used to.

FWIW, I’ve noticed that locales (and specific jobs) with a high percentage of heavy smoking seem to be ones in which the environment itself is pretty dangerous/toxic, so adding on the additional risk is a small price to pay for a shot of temporary enjoyment.

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I got a divorce. Now I can live forever!

Lighten up, Francis.

I’ve seen that a couple of times. I had one friend who has a life story to rival Job’s. One of the small comforts she had was that her father had left her a tidy sum of money in trust with her mother and that, though my friend is unable to work outside the home due to debilitating PTSD and agoraphobia from the horrors she had endured as a child at the hands of her father, she would be able to live off her inheritance, or at the least it would help a lot. Then the mom got cancer and toward the end of her life the doctors sold her every trial drug they could get their hands on. For the last year the mother was taking $20,000 shots every day. She died still from the cancer and my friend was left with almost nothing remaining in the trust.

The other friend this happened to just died this weekend, an 80 year old woman with ovarian cancer. The family was very close and wanted her to try, so she went through with the chemo even though it seemed clear that if the cancer didn’t kill her the chemo would. I didn’t see the point of why her family was encouraging her to try the chemo but I guess as long as there was a slim chance she might recover they wanted to try.

Highly stressful environments as well, although I think smoking is less about enjoyment and more about coping with an unpleasant life in that case.

Whoah. That is super scary. “First do no harm” does NOT extend to bank accounts.

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