I saw Joan Rivers perform at Florida Atlantic University about 30 years ago. Whether you love or loathe the comedienne, it's undeniable she exuded incredible energy. She maintained a full schedule right up until her cardiac arrest a few days ago, turning in a Broadway performance the night before her throat surgery. The operation was an out-patient procedure - nothing to be concerned about for the otherwise healthy 81-year-old.
These kinds of events remind us that sometimes, life turns on a dime. We can't dwell on them; we would drive ourselves crazy if we do. Better to live our lives with confidence, anticipating the best. And the best way to do that: prepare ourselves and our families for that turn-on-a-dime event. If you want to be truly free from unnecessary worry, you have to know you're prepared for whatever life throws your way.
My own family faced a similar, unexpected health crisis one year ago Sept. 5. My 76-year-old brother-in-law fell and hit his head on the sidewalk after exiting a restaurant, apparently because of aortic stenosis. While awaiting cardiac surgery to repair the valve, he sustained a brain aneurysm, had a stroke, and remained on life support for days, until we consented to disconnect life support. He was a gifted classical pianist who on the day of his fall, was practicing for a particularly challenging performance. The unveiling of his gravestone will be at a cemetery in New York State at the end of this month.
Back to Rivers: The press releases say that her family will soon consider removing her from the breathing apparatus. I do not know for sure, but I suspect her daughter Melissa, who has become something of a Dean Martin to Rivers' Jerry Lewis in recent years, may be the decision-maker. I hope for her sake that her mother had a living will and other health care documents in place to guide her daughter's decision and spare her any more agony than she is already experiencing. My brother-in-law's written wishes were certainly a help to my family.
Wishing peace to Rivers' family, and to the thousands of families each day who find that their lives have turned on a dime.