Lowered Expectations – Friday Fictioneers, April 2018.

Copyright Doug McIlroy

Expectations change, almost imperceptibly.

After forty years, Dr Gillespie anticipates, almost welcomes that threshold… when ‘make me well’ becomes ‘make me comfortable’.

He says nothing; just carries on, trying to meet expectations.

Today Dr Gillespie senses his young patient crossing another threshold, more unusual… but not entirely surprising.

Some might say ‘the patient brought this on himself’.

Dr Gillespie doesn’t judge.

He could say ‘in future perhaps… medical science…”

But he doesn’t lie, either.

For now, it’s important to blank out the censure, deaf out the hope.

And pretend, over and over again, not to hear it.

‘Make me dead’.


The focal point of this photo  reminds me of a cage, and hence the story, quite out of keeping with my mood on this lovely spring morning in the UK.  It also reminds me of an old friend, Doug McIlroy, once a stalwart Friday Fictioneer whose presence is much missed.   I hope you’re enjoying life, Doug; it would be good to see you on here again once more.  PS:  Don’t go looking for me on the French waterways, as you always said you would – that ship has sadly sailed.

Thanks, as always, to our leader, Rochelle, still on her travels and having a whale of a time, it seems.  Come back safely!

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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61 Responses to Lowered Expectations – Friday Fictioneers, April 2018.

  1. neilmacdon says:

    That request is always an agonising one for doctors. Well written as always, Sandra

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a good doctor. Reminds me of when the AIDS epidemic first started – not many didn’t censure and so many wanted an end of their own choosing. You captured those shifts in the journey to life’s end perfectly Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ceayr says:

    As elegantly crafted and hard-hitting as always, Sandra.
    And have you really abandoned France completely?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks CE. The boat will be going on the market soon, so I guess that’s the end of what’s been a truly memorable ten years in an idyllic country. You’re very lucky, CE, to be settled there


  4. jenniesisler says:

    Reminds me of our esteemed First Lady Barbara Bush, who passed away yesterday. She was 92 and had congestive heart failure and COPD. She requested comfort care a couple of days ago…such a sad ending, but empowering to go out on your own terms I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anita says:

    Sometimes pretending is a calm solution.
    Yes, it does look like a cage

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jillyfunnell says:

    A doctor’s unenviable position captured perfectly and very thoughtfully, Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That was incredible, Sandra. So powerful that last line made me gasp. Brilliantly done!

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whoa, this one is heavy. I’ve seen it, though, But I’ve also seen the amazing recoveries. Really well told.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautifully written downer, Sandra. All too often true, unfortunately.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. AshleyDannie says:

    Beautifully written!


    Liked by 1 person

  11. James says:

    Agonizingly heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dear Sandra,

    As all have said, powerful and tragic. I, too, miss our Doug. Every so often I catch a chat with him, but they’re few and far between, On the other hand, he’s deliriously happy with his life.
    I’m dreadfully late for my own party this week. Glad I called it in ahead. 😉
    As always, your elegant writing shows others how it’s done.



    Liked by 1 person

  13. subroto says:

    So sad and yet so true. And so hard to decide when to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lynn Love says:

    Those different stages are so well put, so tragic and yet happening every day for many people. We’re lucky if we don’t reach that end stage. Well written Sandra

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Iain Kelly says:

    Powerful and tragic, more so that the doctor is unable to grant their final wish to ease their suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. pennygadd51 says:

    You’ve written that beautifully, Sandra. You’ve written Doctor Gillespie as a person who can empathise with a patient, while maintaining sufficient professional detachment to be able to continue functioning in the face of tragedy. To manage that so clearly in just 100 words is a terrific achievement.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. granonine says:

    Powerful piece, Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dale says:

    It’s been said and said – so very powerful and I could not imagine being a doctor having to face this, daily, depending on his specialty. I know that it perfectly shows what my father went through as a patient five years ago.
    Very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A little tangential but it made think of First Lady Barbara Bush, who I like to think made the choice to die at home. Lucky girl.
    Great writing,

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is beautifully written. I think, if our body fails, we should be permitted to face death on our own terms. I think this good doctor appreciates that.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Tender slices of life and the delicate responses to it, Well written and portrayed.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Laurie Bell says:

    Very heavy. Very well written. You really get across this voice of sadness and inability to solve the patients problems

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ve always believed there are worse things than dying.
    Oh, by the way, I guess you knew that Dr. Jack Kevorkian and the Grim Reaper carried on a sordid affair for over twenty years. I’m surprised our purple-clad gnome has written about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. EagleAye says:

    What a wonderful doctor to be so open and accepting. It must be a terrible thing to hear for him when someone wishes to move on. A very powerful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Liz Young says:

    A cage of diminishing options. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Alice Audrey says:

    It’s so hard to see our bloggy friends pass on. You really captured the doctor’s dilemma.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. plaridel says:

    the doctor’s knows when the “make me comnfortable” has come, but it’s left to the patient or relative to decide when.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. draliman says:

    I don’t envy this part of the doctor’s job, when the time has come and the patient just wants to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Moon says:

    Such a brilliant title, Sandra and superb word-crafting, as ever.
    I wonder how the good doctor manages to release the pent-up pain. He too is only human.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Moon says:

    Such a brilliant title, Sandra and superb word-crafting, as ever.
    I wonder how the good doctor manages to release the pent-up pain. He too is only human.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. lisarey1990 says:

    A gorgeously poignant story.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Sarah Ann says:

    Such a sad tale, for both doctor and patient. You pack this full of emotional punch.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. That was a stunning story Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Perfectly delivered in tone and content, Sandra

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I was just watching a program last night in which this very thing was debated.
    Make me dead, seems simple enough to me.
    Great story, Sandra, you have me debating this all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. So heavy with sorrow… and a painful question..

    Liked by 1 person

  37. athling2001 says:

    Fascinating story. It has taken me several readings to start to get the sense of things, but I will be thinking about it for a while yet to get all the subtlety. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. A beautifully written, sensitive piece about a difficult issue. Very well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Susan says:

    Well done Sandra.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. gahlearner says:

    I’m an echo: powerful, beautifully written, heart-breaking. What I also love is the quiet acceptance of the different stages.

    Liked by 1 person

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