Unexpectedly facing your own mortality is not something that you ever think would end up happening to you –at least until you’re, like, a grandpa or something. The truth of the matter is: (and you hear this all the time –but it doesn’t really sink in unless it pertains to you) you can die at any time. Not to scare you but… You! Yes, you –whoever is reading this: your end could come at any moment! Apparently appendicitis is something that many people contract and it happens randomly with seemingly no specific known cause. Even though appendicitis is quite common, shockingly, it can also be quite deadly! If your appendix bursts it puts you at risk for blood poisoning that can kill you! Fortunately, (and thank GOD) I had Kristin with me to suggest that my initial abdominal pain could be more than just gas –it could indicate something potentially serious (which, it did!) To be safe, even though it was 11:30 on a Sunday night before work, we decided to not take any chances and go into the emergency room. (Note to all you people out there: if you ever arrive to a situation where you or a loved one is questioning if you or they should go into the emergency room: DO IT. Don’t mess around!) Our decision to go in when we did –even though the pain that I was experiencing felt bearable- could have been one that saved my life. How strange it is to say that! I could have died…. Crazy. One of my facebook friends responded to one of my hospital posts saying “Dude! If it weren’t for modern medicine –you’d probably be dead several times over by now.” (This comment was referring also to when I had Mono and Hepatitis earlier in the year –AND WHAT IS IT WITH THIS YEAR AND MY HEALTH STUFF?!) Anyhow… What an odd idea to consider –that I’d be dead before 30 if it weren’t for hospitals and doctors. What if I was some hyper-religious person that didn’t believe in any sort of medical interventions? Then I wouldn’t be here typing this.
I recall 2 particularly poignant moments of recognizing my mortality while I was in the hospital. The first came early on in my first stay in the hospital –before my appendix came out: Kristin, despite having work very early the next day, was so lovely to stay with me overnight in the ER while the hospital did their tests to determine what was wrong with me. After finding out the shocking news that I had appendicitis and would have to go into surgery to have my appendix removed in only a few hours, my mind state took me to a strange place: there was a real (if very very slight) chance that something somehow could either go wrong with my appendix pre surgery (it could burst) or something could go wrong while I was having surgery and I could, in reality, die. To cover my bases I asked Kristin to please tell all my family and friends that I love them if anything bad were to happen to me in the coming hours. I’m sure this must have been an ominous request for Kristin to hear –one which, no doubt, any normal person would push to the back of their mind in hopes that it would never have to come to fruition.
My second moment of being aware of my mortality came a few days later when it became apparent that something had gone wrong with my initial appendectomy and as a result I had to go back to the hospital and receive a second corrective surgery. Before they opened me up and came to discover that I had internal bleeding and an intestinal blockage (which, ultimately they were able to repair) I recall a particularly striking moment lying on my hospital bed in the surgery room before the anesthesiologist put me under. The head nurse who was my primary contact amidst the sea of busy bee blue surgery technicians, I recall, had a very resounding and comforting aura about her. There was something so warm and peace-making about the sincerity and confidence in her eye contact with me. It was shocking –like she was an angel (maybe she was =). I remember, in my pain medicated loopiness, squeezing her hand and very sincerely and simply telling her in words that I wish I could recall now (but can’t for some strange reason) that I was so grateful that she was looking over me and being so comforting. Before they put me under I recall thinking it odd how they had music playing in the room where I was to have my surgery. The song “Breakeven” by The Script was playing and I remember it brought tears to my eye. “Breakeven” is a song that has had particularly significant meaning for me in wake of my recent disappointment with not getting into graduate school in addition to various other significant life changes. I couldn’t help but tear up at the idea that it wouldn’t be impossible for “Breakeven” to be the last song that I ever heard before something could have gone wrong which could have resulted in my death. (A strange –if not disturbing- idea to consider.) Even though I felt scared, in an odd way it felt fitting that that song would be the last one that I’d hear before I went under (perhaps forever?). This may seem silly, but –it felt as though God was present and was being the DJ for the event that could potentially shuffle me into whatever event occurs after death. This idea comforted me, strangely.
Thankfully (and obviously) everything turned out okay. After a less than enjoyable week stay in the hospital, I was able to return home and I’ve been feeling okay ever since –making my steady recovery. While recovering I was able to take advantage of my reduced mobility by getting caught up on some movies that I had been meaning to see. I watched Cars (how I have made it 4 years without managing to see that awesome movie shocks me) and then later, when I was feeling well enough to leave home for a bit, I saw Toy Story 3. What beautiful, excellent, excellent movies! I was surprised by how good they both were. I was also surprised by how many times I began tearing up during the films. There was something about seeing these characters that had such clear intentions and dreams go through their quests of change. Lightning McQueen in Cars wanted fame and came to learn that love, brotherhood, and family are more important qualities to seek. Woody in Toy Story 3 wanted all of his toy buddies to stay together to live in Andy’s attic. The stories and the goals of the characters were so simple and clear-cut –much more so than the reality of how life is very complicated and intricate. For some reason, this notion made me cry at a hairs notice during both films. My experience with the hospital enabled me to realize how precious and mortal our lives are. We don’t really have time for complications that confound our simple dreams. Why must people and life make things so complicated? (I don’t now! I’m seriously asking that question right now.) I suppose for my part –the lesson learned from my tears of Pixary goodness would be as follows: Please, everyone: don’t add layers of complication to your dreams –life is to precious for time to be wasted on excuses or fears. Take the chance –move down the path of who you want to be with reasonable reckless abandon. Yes –this can be risky… but as far as we know, we may only get one shoot. We’re all little ticking time bombs –some of us (could be you next) have our appendix explode when our time comes up… and that’s it. That’s the end. Others of us may be lucky enough to have long enough fuses to make it into old age before we terminate. … It’s gonna happen, though -one way or another. Our time on earth is merely rented and some day the landlord is going to make us move out. Take a simple and beautiful piece of advise from Rent: “Forget regret –or life is yours to miss. No other course, no other road: no day but today.” What’s slowing you down from your dreams right this moment?