Fear and Death

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

2 thoughts on “Fear and Death

  1. Ro Laurie Reddick says:

    A poignant reminder that we are all just here temporarily, and death is, indeed, a great inconvenience. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope you will continue to write about it, both as therapy, and for education. I never knew you well in school, but what I have come to know of you recently, I have judged you to be a wonderful, colorful person who I now wish I had spent more time knowing in person, rather than just on Facebook. I feel like anything I might say will come off as trite, but as a bystander, it is difficult to know what to say. All I can hope is that you get *at least* those 10 years. I hope you are in a state that at least medical cannabis is legal, as I understand it really helps with effects from radiation and/or chemo. If you can’t get well, at least get high, eh? I feel lucky to count you as one of my friends, even if it is mostly on FB. And after reading this, I truly hope to become better friends, as I see that I can learn a lot from you. Plus, we are “brothers in arms” against you-know-who, and that, alone, makes you special to me!


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