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Damocles Sword

"According to the story, Damocles was pandering to Dionysius, his king, and exclaimed to him that Dionysius was truly fortunate as a great man of power and authority, surrounded by magnificence. In response, Dionysius offered to switch places with Damocles for one day so that Damocles could taste that very fortune firsthand. Damocles quickly and eagerly accepted the king's proposal. Damocles sat down in the king's throne surrounded by every luxury, but Dionysius, who had made many enemies during his reign, arranged that a huge sword should hang above the throne, held at the pommel only by a single hair of a horse's tail to evoke the sense of what it is like to be king: though having much fortune, always having to watch in fear and anxiety against dangers that might try to overtake him. Damocles finally begged the king that he be allowed to depart because he no longer wanted to be so fortunate, realizing that with great fortune and power comes also great danger." -Wikipedia Suppose you were in Damocles shoes for a week, or a month, what would your life be like? How would you feel with that continuous and imminent threat hanging over your head? What if Dionysius couldn't save you, and trade places again ? What if you are left to your own devices, to make your own choices, to save your own life? Damocles could trade places; it was part of the deal. The life that you are dealt with does not come with flavor options to choose from. You make your choices, and you deal with your own consequences. Human beings mistakenly, or not, feel so powerful and unbeatable. Yet, they are very similar to Damocles, whose life is threatened by a thread. Health, unmistakably, is a Damocles sword. Contemplating the fragility of existence while lately in the hospital with my father, the whole concept of health and existence itself took a different dimension and extent. He is soon to be 95. Wow, most will say, true; what is also true is that there is no age for fearing for a loved one. We think we are immune, we have built a strong armor, yet we are as fearful and as disarmed as a newborn when it comes to those we love. Whoever they are. Whether they are kinship, with blood ties, or the people we select to have in our lives, because we value them for who they are, we love them for their simple being. We are fearful facing the fragility of life, the vulnerability of people facing their fears, really hanging on a thread or string for that matter, knowing that they are at the mercy of whatever treatment will function with whichever bodily functions responding. Some people hang by strings of whatever works for them on the spectrum, from the scientific medical advice passing by emotional bursts to the thoughts and prayers, while others pull their own strings. The elephant (or elephants) in the room remain all the questions that no one dares to utter unless a kamikaze family member ventures and asks one of them. Can we increase the living days whatever the consequences are? Consequences such as the moral wellbeing, which is fleeting at these moments, the impact on the family, the physical harassment, and intrusion, the reliance on others and how it affects the recovery, the loss of independence and autonomy- no comments required in that area, the quality of life. Is anesthesia on the checklist? Can the body handle it? Does the person involved want to go through it? Is surgery still doable? Are ablation or any other form of amputation feasible? Who is the decision-maker in this case? Everyone has an emotional stake, BUT whose life is it? Do you want to gain a few days / years? How far would you go to attain them? What are the trade-offs you are willing to make? After all have been tested and done, do you love enough, beyond yourself, to unplug?


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