“I hear from Alice that you’re doing quite well—still active with exercises and blogging,” said Kacie, the nurse practitioner with hospice, as she unzipped her bag and settled around my dining room table. Ties secured the blue mask around her brunette bun, setting off her kind eyes, its warmth also reflected in her speech. “Came by to evaluate your eligibility for another benefit period. A requirement from Medicare—Like we did the last time.” Then, she had worn a navy jacket. Not so, this humid morning.

“Glad to see you again,” I said, adjusting my oxygen and turning on the concentrator next to me. “I only wear this when speaking for awhile. Helps me formulate my words and express them without getting too tired.” My lungs opened to their full capacity as I sat straight in my armchair, my hands in my lap.

“And still on the oxygen at night?” she asked, flipping open the yellow pad on the table before her. “At 2+ liters?”

I nodded, then added, “Been that way for several months. It seems to help.”

New to this evaluation was increasing shortness of breath, weakness, longer time to complete deep breathing exercises, my helper cooking meals and cleaning up, and too stressed to go outdoors. However, the measurement of my upper arm remained the same as last time.

Like other health care workers that I’d asked, Kacie had no generalized pattern of the deaths of patients with my diagnosis. Always the same response: ‘They’re all different—Some go quickly, others, slowly.”

Again, I’m reminded to stop trying to figure this out, a covert way of controlling the uncontrollable that floods my psyche with unmanageability: CPA’s Step One. It never works.