Friday, April 15, 2011

Life Expectancy

Halfway through my daily walk, I stop for five minutes to really savor the view of the bay. At dawn and dusk, the pelicans and seagulls are gliding over the water looking for some tasty fish. I usually think about the birds and wonder how they can see fish through the glare of the sun on the water. But this morning, when a seagull dove to catch a little fish, I thought about the fish instead.

Here was this little fish, swimming along happily near the surface of the water, probably enjoying the warmth of the sun and SPLASH BAM he is in the belly of a gull. I stopped and thought about life expectancy. Patients ask me all the time what their life expectancy is with lupus. When I was first daignosed in 2003 that was one of my top three questions. My rheumatologist didn't have an answer. I don't have an answer for the patients who ask me.

When we get ourselves all tied up in the issue of life expectancy, we forget to live now. That little fish was not sitting around wondering how long he would live. It was doing what fish do, swimming and eating. Sick people can often live for a long time. Healthy people can die suddenly, just like that little fish. What matters is what we do with the time we have right now!