Life and suchPosted: December 17, 2004
What follows this introduction is something that I fully intended to write, save as private, and probably never let it see the light of day. But considering the subject, that would prove everything I’ve written a lie. It isn’t that it’s intensely personal – it isn’t. It isn’t that it’s embarassing – not even a bit. It’s that it truly isn’t all that interesting. So know that if you’re reading this, it isn’t meant to be ground-breaking or deeply philosophical; not for anyone but me.
Recently, I almost died. I don’t mean that in a “I was so mortified I almost died” way, or a “This car came out of nowhere – seriously, I almost died” way either. I mean that I really, truly, medically, almost died. Technically, I was dying. Now the only type of almost death I can speak of is the “my body is bleeding from areas that need blood and into areas that don’t” way so I don’t know how it feels if one were dying of poisoning or cancer. I wonder if others who’ve almost died knew that they were dying? I know that when the process began, I kept telling myself I was fine, but I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. By the time I called 911 I was positive what was happening was serious. I’d like to say that I called 911 because I wanted to live and knew that medical attention was the only way for that to happen. That statement is mostly true – but there was a part of me that called only because I wasn’t sure how long it would take to die and was scared of the idea that it could still be going on for hours. How much more pain would there be? Would I soon pass out and die without knowledge of the event? What if I threw up? What if no one realized I was dead for days and I started to rot? It was thoughts like those that gave me the will to climb the stairs for a change of clothes (can’t go to the hospital in just panties), decide to place life higher on the list of desires than an overnight bag, and focus more attention than I thought I possessed on one spot of light to keep me in the here and now long enough to make the phone call. Thinking back on the events of that night makes me want to laugh and cry. Laugh because it was insane of me to think I could actually pack a bag, because I was so concerned that my shoes didn’t match, because the EMT really thought an IV would cause more pain than I was already feeling, and for other reasons as well. I want to cry for those same reasons. Am I so vain that I’d risk my life to put on makeup? Am I so stupid that I would keep ignoring obvious symptoms to the point of losing the ability make a phone call to save my life? Am I so crazy that my fear of vomit was worse than death? And why did I think for one second that maybe it would be ok to just close my eyes and just let it happen? I’d always thought that if were stranded in the Andes Mountains by a plane crash, or trapped in a burning building, or standing face to face with someone intent on killing me, or suffering with some life-threatening disease that I would fight to stay alive. I’d still like to think that, but truth is – I don’t know. I could spend the rest of my life playing out scenarios in my mind – but I choose not to. I finally realized that asking myself questions likethe ones posed above is a waste of time. The only thing I know for certain is that right now I am alive. More importantly, I have chosen to be alive. For the first time I understand what it means to be alive and in realizing that, I’ve decided to make some changes. I’ve already decided to take better care of myself. That’s a pretty big improvement on my physical being. On the emotional level, I’ve always been pretty satisfied – but I can do better. One of the reasons I made that phone call was that I had a husband who would never forgive himself for being gone, family that would be heartbroken, and a friend who would miss me terribly and feel responsible for not forcing me to go to the hospital. There were a small group of people that I thought of that night. I talked to them the next day – they expressed concern and sent me flowers. Those are the people I’d like to keep in my life. I’ve always had a habit of trying to keep relationships alive that should have died a long time ago. I don’t think I’ll waste anymore of my time or effort on those. Now I’m not saying it’s necessary to just write off anyone who isn’t on the short list of people to notify in the event of emergency – just that I have a number of people who are important to me and I choose to spend my time keeping those relationships healthy instead of the ones that aren’t that healthy to begin with. I’ve also decided that I’m not going to apologize for the things I do. If I hurt someone, I’ll apologize for the hurt (if I’m truly sorry), but I don’t think I’ll apologize for whatever action caused the hurt. If I’m careless and I hit my husband with a hammer, I’ll apologize for hurting him, but not for being careless with the hammer. I’ll admit I made a mistake, if I think one was made, but I won’t apologize for it. The distinction might be slight, but it does exist. I never intend to hurt someone – but whatever I did to cause that hurt was intended or I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.