Life and Death Decisions



This past weekend my wife and I were watching another episode of Bates Motel. Now I know that some of you might not be familiar with the series or you might not be interested in watching the story about Norman Bates. I will say the series is good and a bizarre all at the same time.

Now the life and death decision I am speaking about has nothing to do with whether you should stay at the Bates Motel or find a better option. Although you might have some interesting stories after staying at the Bates Motel, if you survived.

There is a character in the show named Emma and she has cystic fibrosis. A very scary, life-threatening disease. She has been on the waiting list for a lung transplant for years. Dillon, Norman Bates half-brother, asks Emma when she will get a lung transplant. She said she may never get one because she might not live long enough to get to the top of the waiting list.

Dillon, a good guy with an illegal way of making money, decides to help by raising a lot of money really quickly. By doing this he is hoping to move Emma up the wait list, A LOT! It worked and Emma got the call that she is going to get new lungs. Time to celebrate, right? Not if you are the patient.

I was watching that episode with my wife and started to get extremely anxious. It brought back all the emotions of having to make that same decision decades ago. I had decided, using the best information available, to have a bone marrow transplant. It was a life and death decision. Without the transplant, I was going to die in the next 5 years. With the transplant, I could live a long time. But that was a huge unknown. Additionally, the process of the transplant could end my life within 100 days after starting the process.

The transplant process was extremely difficult and took the life of nearly 75% of the patients in the first 2 years. At that time the majority of patients passed away within 100 days of starting the process. The decision to have a transplant had huge risk attached to it. That episode of Bates Motel brought back all those emotions.

I remember the day the call came in. A bed was now available for me. That meant that someone either moved up to a step-up room or someone passed away from the process. Either way I was “next patient up”. And now the nerves kicked in. Would I survive long enough to see my 20th birthday? That was less than 2 months away. Would I survive to see Christmas one more time? That was 2 ½ months away. Would I see another New Year? There was no way of telling.

Once the process started there was no turning back. You can’t stop it or change course. Once it starts you have to see it all the way through to the end, which means unknown life existence or death. For me it worked. For many other patients it didn’t work. I think about those that didn’t survive all the time.

When I think about big decisions that I have to make today, they just don’t seem that big. Of course they have a big impact on my life, but nothing like the decision I made to have a bone marrow transplant. If I make a mistake today I can always make changes to get myself back on track.

When you are considering a big decision in your life remember that you have options. If the path you are on isn’t working then look for another way, another path, another direction that better matches up with who you are and where you want to go in life. Once you are on the right path…you will be living your destined life.

Dean Raasch is a business consultant and inspirational speaker. You can reach him at Follow his podcast Raasch Thoughts on iTunes or iHeartRadio.