so. um yeah uh mortality.
“stop taking the ________ and we’ll see if it doesn’t cause an ‘episode’,” he said to me as he was taking notes on his computer (they do that now, they don’t look at you, they’re too busy writing down your conversation and fiddling with the keypad in front of them, stopping to regard what they’ve written as if it were the great american novel. maybe it is.
the ‘episode’ came unexpectedly — as it has in the past, but this was the first time during the day. dr. had said if you’re close enough when it happens come into the office and ask them to take an ekg. that’s what i did. i drove myself to the dr.’s office, parked the car, remembered to lock it, walked to the medical center from the parking facility, into the elevator, out at the third floor, stopped to pee, cause, well, peeing often is the new normal, washed my hands, dried them, walked down the hall to the office door, tried to turn the handle. locked.
panic wasn’t exactly the emotion i was hoping for as i stood there (dick in hand as it were) with my ‘episode’ pounding a drum in my head, my throat constricting, the ache in my head like lightening in a sudden afternoon mid-western thundershower. i don’t know if it got worse as i stood there contemplating this episode of the ‘episode’, but i do know the door suddenly opened from the inside and “we’re back from lunch,” trilled the nurse. i’m now in the midst of the 80 & 90 year olds who appeared as if conjured by the clock.
i explain what the dr. requested. “have a seat,” she says, “and i’ll have someone come and get you.” 40 minutes later, i stood up and said, “obvsly, you’re too busy and i don’t mean to be a burden, so i’ll leave.” and that’s exactly what i did. i stopped to pee (see paragraph three above), rode the elevator down to the first floor, walked to the car park, beeped open the door, got in, pushed start and calmly drove away. mind you, my heart is beating so fast right now that i can’t hear any other ambient sound.
back to work! sitting in on a meeting when my cell phone rings, excuse myself, and it’s the heart monitor people, “sir, you’re having an ‘episode’ and you need to get to an emergency room, now,” a kind, gentle male voice said to me. “i’ll drive myself, i’m not that far from the hospital,” i replied. his voice took on a steelier quality, “is there someone there who can take you?” i relented and my boss took me to the e.r., etc. and so forth.
so. mortality. i’ve been pretty breezy about the whole experience and i think i’ve always felt a certain lassitude about dying. i think about it more now than i did even 5 or 10 years ago. i consider what i would do if i slipped into dementia and feel confident that i wouldn’t indulge myself. i fantasize how i would end my life if i felt it were the right thing to do and the right time–careful with who i share this with (too late–it’s on the internet now, you idiot.) but i think it’s good to be conversant with the notion of death, after all it is a shared experience, every living thing dies.
my heart problem will not kill me, the doctor feels confident about that. it’s just that death seemed closer this past week and i wouldn’t say i was afraid, but i would admit to being startled by how i felt about it. i didn’t pray, “lord save me.” i didn’t meditate on the finality of it or the hopefulness that pools around the reality of death. i just felt that it was there, waiting patiently. maybe next time.