How Much Is it Worth To Extend Your Life? (and, for how long?)

Before the discovery of insulin in 1921 (by a Canadian! Who says the Canadians don’t do anything useful!), by the time you were diagnosed with type I diabetes, you maybe had a couple of months to live.

In my case, since I was lame and didn’t go to the hospital until I dropped into a coma and Jenn called an ambulance, I would have died that night.

In fact, today is my three-months-yay-I’m-still-alive-anniversary-date.

In fact, as the cardiologist from Durban pointed out to me in the ICU, if I would have been living in South Africa in the 1980s and come in in as bad a shape I was, I would have died anyway. They wouldn’t have had the resources to save me.

If you’re wondering how much saving a life costs, it’s about 30K (in this instance, at least). My insurance covered all but 6-8K of that. To extend my life, it costs me about $1800-2500 a year in medical visits and supplies.

That’s a doable amount of money. Not great, not spectacular, but – like the disease – manageable.

I’m basically living on borrowed time, extending a life that should have ended three months ago, and extending that life costs money. I’ve weighed the potential risks and benefits, and you know, I figure $2500 a year is a small price to pay to live. I spend more a year on food, and I need that to live, too.

But what happens when extending your life a year, a month, a week, costs 30K? When one month of treatment is 4K, and the average person on that treatment only gets three more months?

What’s the worth of your life every month? I’m delaying the inevitable because it’s possible that “the inevitable” is another 60-70 years away.

But what happens when “the inevitable” is a month, a week, a day, an hour?

What’s the hourly worth of your life?

Because I want to say that every minute, every hour, is priceless. You can’t measure that. You can’t put a sticker tag on it. But somebody’s putting a price on your life, and it’s you who’s stuck in the middle, wondering whether you should feed your children or give yourself another hour to help find them a better place to live when you’re gone.

How do you measure a life?

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