One of our favorite lyrics are from an advice-giving song that we discovered many years ago, It says;
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindsides you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.Everybody Free To Wear Suncreen By Baz Luhrmann
This lyric was true to life Tuesday last week. John started the day as he usually would, with a quick work out, followed by breakfast. His friend Brad was coming over to work on a project they are doing together. They never got to work on the project. Just before Brad arrived, John developed a Gastro-Intestinal bleed that progressed rapidly. By the time his friend arrived, he was losing copious amounts of blood.
Brad drove John to the hospital, where he registered astronomical numbers for his heart rate and blood pressure. Those numbers showed that his body was struggling to keep up with the blood loss. The emergency room doctor admitted him immediately. He ordered round the clock monitoring, and blood for transfusion on stand-by. An emergency endoscopy and colonoscopy were performed to find the bleeding source.
Due to COVID-19, I was not allowed into John’s room. We had to settle for face-timing each other, not knowing if we would ever see each other again. I put on a brave face for him because I could tell he was scared. It had been decades since he had been to a hospital for illness and never been admitted before. I was terrified too. There was a moment when I realized with frightening clarity that I would not be able to live on if I lost him. Here is his story.
As the medical staff fretted over me through the night, I started to come to terms with my mortality. A social worker came into the room to discuss my end of care directives and my Will. “It is only precautionary,” she assured me. I remembered writing my last Will a few months prior. Sly had been urging me for years to write it. I had been dismissive of the idea. It seemed premature for me at the time.
Now sitting in the hospital bed with a gown that did a poor job of covering my body, I realized how arrogant and foolish I had been. I avoided the social worker’s gaze to hide my tears, as I read over what I had written. The Social Worker didn’t know why I was here, but her face was somber. She doesn’t get called in for broken fingers, I thought with a little self-pity.
Minutes seemed like hours that night. Yet the past years seemed like minutes. I thought about how my life had fluttered by. An overwhelming sense of loss for all the things I hadn’t done overcame me. At the same time, I felt deep sorrow for Sly. I pictured her alone at home. She had never spent the night alone at our new home, and I knew she would be distraught. Knowing the pain, she was feeling and would feel if I didn’t pull through both filled me with incredible sadness and determination.
Then I thought about my Mother. Sly had wanted to call her, but I had asked her to wait until I had a diagnosis. I now regretted that. Talking to my Mom is always reassuring. She has a way of putting things into perspective that makes them seem lesser than they appear to be. I could hear her say, “I am so thankful that you have access to such great care.” She would find the silver lining in the situation. Thinking of that made me thankful.
After a night of being poked and prodded by faceless medical staff, polyps in my large intestines were identified as the culprits. They performed emergency surgery to remove them and stop the bleeding, and my body began to stabilize. For the first time in two days, I wasn’t preoccupied with death. Sadly though, after the lab examined the polyps, they determined that they were pre-cancerous.
After a day of observation to make sure I didn’t start to bleed again, I was declared ready for discharge. The Doctors stressed the need for close future observation due to the nature of the polyps. I almost ran out of the room when they said I could go home. My nurse gave me a knowing smile as I beelined to the elevator with my belongings in a pile under my arms. Sly met me at the hospital entrance. I could tell she was smiling through her facemask. I can not remember a time I was more glad to see her than on that day.
This experience has made me look at life differently. The possibility of never seeing the people I love again has made me appreciate them more than ever. For those that I have fallen out with in the past for whatever reason, I realized what a waste of emotions holding a grudge is. Life is too short for bad vibes. I no longer take my life and health for granted. Death is closer than we realize. I promised myself that if I left the hospital alive, I would give everything and say everything I wanted and felt. My new mission is to live in a way that I have no regrets when I finally meet my end. Cheers to life!