Back in 2001 I got a glimpse at death in the modern age. Immediately following a liver biopsy, while I was still prone on a gurney, I had a vasovagal reaction and passed out.
This wasn’t your garden variety fainting. Apparently my pulse and BP more or less flat-lined. In the waiting room, my wife heard the hospital staff yelling “stat” and “code blue”, not knowing I was the cause of all the excitement.
When I came to, I was still flat on my back, still on the gurney, but now there was a large group of doctors and nurses huddled around me, staring down at me.
That was it – no heroic measures, no ill effects, although they kept me overnight in the ICU as a precaution.
I don’t believe I was in any danger, but I think that people in serious trouble in an ER have a similar experience. And that was my revelation – if you die in an ER, you die wearing skimpy clothing; aching, cold, and confused in a noisy room filled with machinery and strangers.
Years have gone by, and yet another biopsy has given me another lesson.
I have aggressive prostate cancer. If it’s confined to my prostate then I have an excellent chance of living 10 or more years. If not… well, I’ll probably have time to get my affairs in order.
I’m surprised that I’m not afraid. I’m not brave – I probably fear pain more than most folks – but the prospect of death more imminent than expected is not terrible. Honestly, some of the non-lethal possibilities – castration, colostomy bags – are scarier.
The real surprise is what I DO feel. More than anything, this news is a pain in the ass. Even if things turn out for the best, I face a couple of years of doctors’ appointments, procedures, and treatment. If the road is rockier, things get more tedious. Not to mention the trouble of making sure my insurance info is all available, all property and savings I have are either held jointly or with my wife as the beneficiary, all the account numbers and points of contact are handy, etc., etc.
Not the way I’d like to spend my spare time
Who knew? Dying is fucking inconvenient.
Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me