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JULY 16, 2010


Numbers on clockThe casual way he said it made it worse.

My teenaged grandson explained that the meaning of his blood test results was "how many years I have left." He was diagnosed with Type I diabetes around his fourth birthday, and the clock started ticking.

I've been thinking over the terms of a deal, if a deal could be made: would I swap potential years of my life for potential years of his?

Let's say my projected life span is 90 years (I come from a family with good longevity genes). Would I be willing to stop at 70 if it would extend his life a similar amount?

Apart from the big question of would I have the courage to carry out such a deal, there are other issues. Nothing in life is guaranteed, so the terms of a deal like this would surely be "potential" years of life. Regardless of the potential, either he or I could meet an earlier end. Would that be a deal-breaker?

Then there are all the other people involved. By helping one grandson would I be short-changing the other five grandchildren? My children? My wife? Who matters the most? What matters the most?

I watched my father die at 93 and am pretty sure he'd have traded his last few years for just about anything. Sometimes we live too long. But of course the question is how long is too long? At this point I'm relieved that the choice isn't mine to make.



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JULY 2010