Honey, We’re ALL Dying

I’m sick. I might be dying. I think I have scabies, what with these weird little bumps on my skin. But really, it could be anything. Also, my stomach hurts, so I think I have appendicitis. Did I say I was sick? I might be dying.

'First step is the hardest. You've got to admit that you don't have a problem.'
‘First step is the hardest. You’ve got to admit that you don’t have a problem.’

I’m sick. I might be dying. I think I have scabies, what with these weird little bumps on my skin all of a sudden.

But really, it could be anything.

Also, my stomach hurts, so I think I have appendicitis. 

Did I say I was sick? I might be dying.

My head hurts too, so I could be having a stroke, like Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor had that morning she woke up with a killer headache. She’s a neuro-specialist and so knows a WHOLE lot about the brain, yet didn’t she crazily jump on her exercise machine anyway, stopping only when her vision swam and she started to hallucinate – which is something I just know I’d do myself. I would totally try to keep pedaling right through a stroke. Right through a heart attack.

Come to think of it, I sort of did do that on the day I was working away at my keyboard and, out of the blue, got these chest pains, and every single thing I did from then on was dumb:

First I opened up my browser and typed, “Am I having a heart attack?” then moseyed around several sites looking for  answers.

Twenty minutes later, I finally phoned my paramedic son-in-law for advice. The advice came in a small tersely delivered sentence: “Call 911.” 

The person who answered old me that the ambulance was on its way and she would stay on the phone with me until it arrived. She also told me to open the front door and go sit by it.

“I’m hungry though! I need to pack a lunch.”

“Forget lunch,” she said.

“And I have to go to the bathroom!”

“No bathroom,” she said.

“But I HAVE to duck in there! I’ve had like a gallon of water!”

”Take me with you then,“ she sighed.

The next thing I knew, I had been mailed like a letter into the roomy ambulance, in which I lay flat on my back, looking up at the lovely sky, the passing trees.

In the end, I spent five hours at that hospital ER until it was determined that my heart was just fine and all I had likely done was strain the place where my ribs meet my sternum by exercising with some overly heavy weights. Costochondritis they call it.


All of this took place just a year ago, which, it now occurs to me is just about when I began having these health fears. It is only now, as I am setting these words down, that I see the possible reason and the reason is this: While being transported to the hospital, I was delivered straight back to the winter day when my mother was brought from my house to this same hospital, along the very same route, she too flat lying on her back.

Only she couldn’t see the lovely sky, the passing trees, because her own chest pains had claimed her life before the ambulance could even get here.

And doesn’t that connection point to the great truth: When you finally tell a hard thing, and truly feel it again in the telling, you find that it loosens its hold on you. It just does.

So chances are I’m not sick at all, really. And if I’m dying, well aren’t we all dying, carried along as we are on Time’s great conveyor belt – perhaps to glories unimagined, where pain, and even skin rash,  hold no dominion – and isn’t THAT a loft thought for the start of a work week! 🙂



9 thoughts on “Honey, We’re ALL Dying

  1. Terry, you brought out a good laugh with this post though I mean not to diminish the very real fear we sometimes have to deal with. Bless my insurance co. they relieved my fear of how am I going to pay $1800 for an ambulance bill especially since I just paid one. I’d forgotten the other two times an ambulance was called for me and sometimes the bill arrival lags. We also tend, sometimes, to wait too long because we don’t want to be a hypochondriac (oh, yes, we do see the looks that sometimes pass over the faces of the doctor or ambulance attendants) and God knows we don’t want someone to have that opinion of us. The last time I was in urgent care for belly pain–it was the doctor’s office who called the ambulance as my BP was 220/70 and from there eventually lots of tests and the decision to do two surgeries on April 20th. When I told a male neighbor on the first day I drove again that the seat belt bothered me, he said drive without it. If a cop stops you and disbelieves you, pull up your shirt and show him the big hole in your belly! I said all that would be is make him pull me off the road and along with ambulance and hospital bills, I’d have to pay to have my car towed! 🙂

  2. I love this piece of yours. Like most of us, I too delay and deny and then finally make the call; I never cease to feel like I’m imposing by taking up professionals’ time on what I’m sure is nothing although I’ve been told emphatically, both of the times I finally got myself to the ER, that they really would prefer a false alarm to the alternative. Thanks for making me feel less like an irresponsible, risk-taking idiot. I mean I have been an irresponsible, risk-taking idiot, but I like the company and it’s comforting to know my behavior is not unique. Far from it – next time maybe I won’t wait quite so long.

  3. I love this post! My Dad used to say, with a smile, “No one gets out of this life alive.” I found that thought both freeing and terrifying.
    Glad that you weren’t actually having that heart attack!

    1. Thanks and isn’t that the truth about no one getting out alive , though American culture is all about denying that incontrovertible fact. Talk about “denial is more than a river in Egypt”

  4. Pedaling on through the heart attack; I can relate to that. Twice not calling 911 was right on!

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