No Absolute Time

I haven’t written in this blog for a long time. It has been a lot longer than I had originally planned, in fact. I have simply been busy, and stressed, and otherwise occupied.

That means that I have no excuses for not writing. It’s just that I have excuses for not writing, if that makes sense.

In fact, it is where the title of this entry gets its inspiration. “No Absolute Time” is the title of an album by jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. The underlying theme of the music on this album is about the concept of time, which he gets from the great physicist Albert Einstein. The latter’s premise, when talking about time, is that it is not real. And that is true; time is a construct that human beings need to have. It gives us the ability to quantify events in our lives and the ability to refer back to them based on our memory, as well as this man-made construct. If we did not have it, we wouldn’t be able to put our memories into perspective. And we would likely end up like other of God’s creatures that may or may not have memory as we humans know it. If they do, they are trapped because they have no ability to express their memories. If they don’t, then they probably only live moment to moment.

Sometimes you have to wonder if that isn’t better.

Recently I went on a call involving a 94 year-old female who is a long-term resident in a nursing home located in Massachusetts’s Merrimack Valley. Like many nursing home residents, this woman is doing nothing more than existing. What is sadder for me is that I have dealt with her when she was living at home, on her own. She had a sharp memory then. These days I’m not so sure; it has appeared that she has lost her will to live. And while her body is not dead, her mind has to be declining. She remembered me, which I was surprised at, but she couldn’t remember why she remembered me, if that makes sense. On top of that, she was really sick. It was suspected that she had what is known as an ileus, which in its most simple terms, is a bowel obstruction caused by no movement of the smooth muscle in the small intestine as opposed to being caused by matter. She also had a fever; this usually means infection is present. Between those, and that she had been vomiting over the course of the day, we were somewhat concerned.

This lady was sick.

After we got to the hospital but before I left her in the care of the nursing staff of the Emergency Department, she said to me, “you know, I just want to be left alone. I’m ninety-four years old. I’ve lived my life. It’s time for me to go.”

I couldn’t say anything; on one hand, she is right. She should have the ability to make her own choices and decisions. On the other hand, I won’t lie; it made me really sad to hear her say that, mainly because I knew what she said was true in her case, and she was being made to make decisions that really weren’t hers.

Is that fair?

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No Absolute Time

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