"Friday, June 26, 2020
Lying on a gurney in the emergency room, hooked to an EKG, I drifted off and dreamed that I saw Death. Anyone much past the age of six has had at least a glimpse of the ancient bastard. He makes his presence known to all eventually, usually well before it is our own time to meet him. He loves to frighten mortals by letting them know that he can appear any place, at any time and in the blink of an eye. In the midst of drawing a breath, he can devour you in one bite and send you to his abyss, a place so black and silent that nothing remains, nothing exists. Most of the times I've seen Death, I was an observer of his game and not his prey, but, a few times, I've seen him looking directly at me, usually in the reflection of a car's windshield.
1978. The Piney Woods, East Texas. The hill obstructed my view of the Dodge Dart lying on its left side in the opposite lane of the narrow two lane highway. The logging truck was half on the shoulder in my lane. I could have passed between them on the centerline with just enough room to spare had it not been for the telephone pole-diameter logs scattered all across the road shoulder to shoulder like gigantic Pick Up Stix. There were open fields on both sides of the road but the short distance to the obstructions ahead of me meant I would have to jerk the wheel hard to vector towards one of them, and at my speed, my Chevelle would surely have rolled. I stomped the brake pedal as hard as I could, practically standing on it while trying to keep the back end of the Chevy from coming around. All of the processing of the scene happened for me in slow motion. I came to a halt with the rear of the logging truck perhaps ten or twelve feet from my face and with a very angry truck driver giving me what-for while I rested my head on my steering wheel. Ol' Death, he came and went in an instant back then, and then once again, I was seventeen and immortal.
I've seen him since then at intervals and I lost my immortality long ago, but this most recent time around, he has taunted me for an entire month, remaining always in my sight, poisoning everything; my thoughts, my speech, my actions, even my food. Earlier this week, he charged right at me on his fetid stallion. But for the clicking of his bones, he made not a sound. His jaw was open in a permanent, silent scream, the way skulls of the dead sometime appear. He waved a rusty sword above his head. He could have taken me without it but he wanted me to suffer for the sins of my life and intended to dismember me using the jagged edge of his blade to full effect. I felt the icy fog snorted from the nostrils of his mount and saw its blazing red eyes deep in the sockets of its emaciated head. Death jerked the reins, reared and wheeled his mount in a circle right in front of me. I knew I was going to die.
I woke up with a start on the gurney, jerking my arms and legs into the air, staring at the cold fluorescents in the ceiling, with nothing but the sound of my own breathing, the beeping of the monitor, and the irregular beat of my heart..."
Some of the longtime regulars in this forum know that in my utter disgust with the state of the insurance industry in this country, I swore off going to doctors many years ago. I've been fortunate that my high ideals jibed with my luck of always managing to avoid going back, even though I should have. My last physician had me on blood pressure meds and drugs for borderline diabetes but I simply ceased taking them. Yes, I know. This was foolish. Somehow, though, I've managed to get along.
In May of this year, I began experiencing pain on the left side of my chest but after three days it went away completely and I was once again back in my zone of rationalization. Near the end of the month, I began having pain in the middle of my chest. Years ago, I had problems with acid reflux and I thought perhaps this had returned. Antacids and a modified diet had no effect on the pain. About three weeks ago I mowed my lawn, a task I have performed for the last sixteen years, each time completing it all at once. This time, though, I had to stop five minutes into the task and rest. It took me an hour and a half to complete a job which usually takes about forty minutes. I was determined to finish the job, but to say I felt miserable afterwards is an understatement.
After that, the pain was with me any time I exerted myself in any way. If I sat still for a while, the pain subsided, but any movement- walking across the room or even rolling over in bed caused it to return. Twice since then, I had bouts of pain so bad- which radiated out to the inner aspect of both my arms above the elbow- I felt like "this is it."
Why, oh why, then, did I not go to the doctor? The reason is that in my current circumstances, I had no insurance and since I felt doomed, I saw no reason to saddle my widow with obscenely large medical bills. However, it so happens that I do know a cardiologist with whom I can consult at no charge. What did I have to lose by speaking with him? In years past, I worked in the medical field. I have known many physicians. I have been in the room with them when they were attempting to stress to a patient the seriousness of matters at hand. Never, though, have I heard a doctor tell someone these things with such perfect calm as did forum member sjtill, a man who was in practice for forty years.
Go. Go right now. Hang up the phone, dial 911 and be transported. Go. Now.
"But, you see..." I said to him, explaining my rationale. He was not happy with me and I am grateful to him for this, because sjtill was instrumental in saving my life.
I didn't go right away, but I did go. There was a delay of about 36 hours while my wife managed to get me insured, as I should have been already. The clock was ticking. I knew that. This interval and the possible consequences of the gamble I was making were the worst part. I didn't take an ambulance ride, but I did go to the ER on Thursday. I was examined and admitted to the hospital and returned home yesterday. I now have a stent in my chest. I know that more than a few members of this forum have the same.
I was fortunate, very, very fortunate. I had an 85-90% blockage of the largest artery leading out of my heart. Perhaps months, perhaps days- it was not a matter of if, but when, had I not acted. Cardiac arrest. Death.
I want to thank sjtill for setting me straight. As far as I'm concerned, he can do no wrong in this forum, not that he's the kind of man who would cause any trouble for his host to begin with. There is no way I can thank him enough for showing me the path.
The same goes for my angel of a wife, who was unaware of most of my troubles until I revealed them to her very recently and who has been there for me at every turn. When you're married for a couple of decades you can begin to take many things for granted. This experience has changed our relationship, all for the better. sjtill showed me the path and my wife cleared that path all the way and continues to do so. I am lucky, it's true, and it's also true that I am very fortunate to have her. Without her, I may have simply given up and let the chips fall where they may. She, too, has saved my life by giving me strength.
How do I feel now? Years ago, the brother of a close friend of mine had a bypass. Afterwards, he told my friend "You just don't know how bad you feel until you don't feel bad any more." Well, I understand what he meant, but the difference for me is that I did know that I was miserable. Each and every day for the last month, I was depressed as I could be because I couldn't move without hurting and felt as if I could die at any moment. I felt like crap all the time. But, now? I feel fantastic. I feel fifteen years younger. I feel like Rocky at the top of the steps. I feel ready to continue fighting the good fight, so I'm putting all of the sons o' bitches in this confused world on notice once again. I'm back and for the time I have left, I vow to not burn the seconds, the minutes and the days with the casual disregard of a rich man lighting his cigars with hundred dollar bills. Death will take me one day, but likely not today, not this week, not any time soon. This is my wake-up call, my second lease on life.
My sincere thanks to all of you who sensed something was up and who expressed their concern.This message has been edited. Last edited by: parabellum,
|Fighting the good fight|
Glad to hear you're on the mend. And here's to sjtill!
I'm glad you went and they were able to take care of you. Prayers for you and your wife.
Take care of yourself.
Tomorrow's battle is won during today's practice.
|Three Generations |
Horry Sheet! Cut that one pretty close there, didn't ya Para?
Glad you got yer plumbing fixed in time!
Be careful when following the masses. Sometimes the M is silent.
I'm glad you went and all worked out well.
|The Blue Machine|
Para, I’m glad you’re still with us, and feeling better! Oddly, you were in my thoughts (and should have been in my prayers) earlier this week.
Glad you're on the mend & that there's members here that we can trust for guidance when needed.
The Enemy's gate is down.
|thin skin can't win|
Glad for the positive outcome, and for you finally pursuing that course of action.
Probably should follow docs instructions afterward too! Heal well.
You only have integrity once. - imprezaguy02
glad you are feeling better ,
did they use any stints?
My Bonnie just had four put in
she has five now total
any Plavix for you ?
Safety, Situational Awareness and proficiency.
Neck Ties, Hats and ammo brass, Never ,ever touch'em w/o asking first
So glad your doing well. You still have work to do but it has your attention now. Good luck ahead for you.
Glad you are on the mend
"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
|Savor the limelight|
Wow. I'm glad it's working out and hope you recover quickly.
|Now and Zen|
Jesus! Just Jesus. Very happy to hear that you are on the mend. If there is ever anything that you think myself or any other forum member can do, well, you know.
"....imitate the action of the Tiger."
Dang Para, I'm glad you got this worked on. Take care!
|An investment in knowledge |
pays the best interest
Glad to hear you’re on the mend and that you raged against the dying of the light. You & your wife will be in our prayers.
I am so happy you are still with us.
|The Unmanned Writer|
It is good to know, you're good.
Heal fast my friend.
Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.
Help, I'm having premonitions of future flashbacks.
Only in an insane world are the sane considered insane.
Some people listen to the noise of the world,
And some people listen to the quiet.
"All Californians, like all citizens of the United States, have a fundamental Constitutional right to keep and bear common and dangerous arms. The nation’s Founders used arms for self-protection, for the common defense, for hunting food, and as a check against tyranny." Judge Benitez - March 2019
|"The deals you miss don’t hurt you”-B.D. Raney Sr.|
Glad to know you got that handled
Now, about that vague thread title....
I keed, I keed...
Glad you’re doing better.
Thank You sjtill
Never shoot a large caliber man with a small caliber bullet . . .
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