Nov 15 2005

Life Sucks, Then You Die… Waaaaah

So I’m driving into work this morning thinking about how much I hate fibromyalgia, how fucking exhausted I am and how much my body hurts – as if a thousand pissed off Marines hopped up on PCP and coke were beating me with sticks backed up by a couple of dozen really pissy dwarves with great huge pointy metal bits and good aim after keeping me awake for a week just to get me in the mood – and I realized that life sucks, then you die… so waaaaah.

I have a friend who just got out of the hospital after falling off his roof and breaking his pelvis, elbow, shoulder, and leg. Thankfully not his neck. He was already full of metal from multiple back surgeries, and now he’s got a few new plates and pins to add to his collection. The man’s got such a great attitude that he’s been accepted into a very packed and exclusive rehab program as one of their potential star patients. Go Sarge.

I have another friend who’s spend the last week praying with his partner that their baby isn’t born at 23, now 24 weeks… she’s holding her breath and crossing her ankles, on total bedrest in the same hospital the first friend just came home from. They are under strict orders not to deliver any time soon, not only because the baby would have a piss-poor chance at a normal life this early in and because an 8-week-early preemie is a happier event than a 16-week-early preemie, but because I just can’t get a baby blanket crocheted that fast, and Little Doode will need something soft to be snuggled in that doesn’t reek of antiseptic. I add my prayers that Little Doode will quit head-butting her cervix and enjoy his next four months safely in the womb. Go Nicole, Jerel, and Little Doode.

I have not a goddamned thing to complain about. So there’s some pain. Nothing’s broken, I can walk, and I have no pins or plates. So I’m tired. Not as tired as a 6-month pregnant woman fighting for her baby’s life, or as tired as the man who loves her and can do nothing but go to work every morning and come home to her side at the hospital every night.

Life does not suck. Above ground, outta jail and not on fire. It’s all good. The Sarge is gonna be fine, Little Doode is gonna be fine, Nicole and Jerel are gonna be fine. I’m gonna take some Advil and quit whining.

On a slightly more surreal note – my quiz results:

You scored as Special Ops. Special ops. You’re sneaky, tactful, and a loner. You prefer to do your jobs alone, working where you don’t come into contact with people. But every once in a while you hit it big and are noticed and given fame. You’re given the more sensitive problems. You get things done, and do what has to be done.

“owww…….(slump)”Which soldier type are you?
created with

What’s really scary is that right below it is another quiz called, “Are You Normal?” I’m afraid to take that one. Sticking with the Vulcan Neck Pinch, thank you very much.

Feb 8 2005

Go Not Gently…

My Uncle Don died in the wee hours Sunday morning. We knew his condition was grave – he’d been in the ICU for a week already being treated for tuberculosis and a staph infection in his lungs, and on a respirator they couldn’t wean him off of – but we’d hoped against all knowledge of how these things usually go that even at 80 years old, he’d be able to rally and recover. I drove with my mom out to Tucson on Saturday to see him, the unspoken reason to say goodbye. We got there just in time to have a bite to eat and be lulled into a false sense of security over his condition before being called to the hospital around a quarter after nine. He’d been much better that day, his color good and his expression peaceful. Then he coded. They brought him back. He coded again. My mom and I arrived at the hospital right after they’d brought him back the second time, pumped sky-high full of blood pressure meds to keep his BP at low-normal levels. The respirator breathing for him. His O2 perfusion at unacceptably low levels. He’d simply been too long without enough oxygen to his brain for the docs to do anything. Despite his heart being in otherwise good condition, his lungs were too damaged to deliver.

He’d raged against the dying of the light. He’d fought the TB unknowingly on his own for six months, he’d fought going into the hospital, and he fought dying. His wife and two of his three kids were there when he coded the second time and watched him be rescuscitated. I’m glad they did, because by the second time the docs brought him back and he’d been short of oxygen for too long and the on-call had to explain to his wife that there was nothing more they could do for him, his body had been through hell. Some folks wouldn’t accept that it was the end and would insist on keeping his body going at all costs, but my aunt saw how hard it was on him to be dragged back from dead and decided to let him go the next time. It only took about 3 hours after that for him to give up the ghost, and at the end he went peacefully. We stayed in the room with him the entire time and told him that we loved him and that it was time for him to rest and stop struggling for air, that we would all be okay and would take care of each other.

His was the first non-violent death I’ve been witness to… I’ve never stood deathwatch before. I’ve seen maybe 20-30 people die, been right there in the thick of it fighting for them the whole way. It was always messy and loud and horrible, sometimes even dangerous to us, depending on who came in with the wounded, and the violence that caused their deaths was only compounded by the what we did trying to save their lives. They say we always know how to fight the last war… there was nothing for me to do this time but touch him, rub his feet and tell him that it was all right to go. To pass those little boxes of scratchy hospital Kleenex around the room. And to hold my aunt while she cried. They’d been married 54 years, and still adored each other. To be loved like that… I wonder sometimes if people nowadays are capable of that kind of commitment to each other when life’s inconveniences get in the way. I hope that TGP and I always remember their example when life starts to get in our way.

I’d read about others’ experiences of being with the dying, but I’ve never been aware before of the stillness that fills a room when warm flesh turns to cold wax, never seen that moment passing when the body seems to grow more dense and sink into the bed as if rooting right there. There had always been something else going on, somebody yelling for more blood or one last thing to try, just in case we could save the patient. And then an operating room to clear so we could get on to the next case or three stacked up in the hallway.

I was touching him when his nurse turned off the respirator and his heart stopped beating. I actually felt his body get heavier under my hand as his spirit lifted free. I haven’t really processed it all yet – there’s still too much else going on with figuring out when the services will be, hotels, food, what I’m behind on now in school, what I need to catch up on at work… the assorted minutia of the living who carry on.

But I think his was a better death than what I’ve seen before. The hell with going out in a blaze of glory. Quietly, in bed, surrounded by people who love you, at the end of a long and happy life. Better.

Uncle Don, godspeed. I love you.

Jul 20 2004


Biggest Deal:

Found out on Friday that my stepdad’s biopsy came back positive for a moderate stage of prostage cancer and he’ll be entering treatment some time in the next few weeks undergoing hormonal and proton therapy. Somehow the thought that he’ll get laser beams shot up his ass isn’t nearly as cheering to him or me as it would be in different circumstances. Irony is, he’s a retired physicist whose specialty was nuclear medicine. The man invented about 30% of the delivery systems now used in hospitals around the world to administer radiation therapy to cancer patients. He’s 74 and both his overall health and prognosis are excellent, but goddamn it sucks. I’ve seen too many people die of cancer and that’s the last thing I’d wish on anybody but Osama. The thought that’s giving me the greatest strength right now is that he’s too ornery to die miserably like that.

Big Deal But Not So Big In The Greater Scheme Of Things (see above):

My adorable MINI Horus has been in the shoppe at Bob Smith MINI since 6-22-04. Lights were flashing, whirligigs were beeping, and engine tummies were rumbling roughly in quite the disgruntling fashion. To add insult to injury, the first time the car started to act possessed and almost stalled out on PCH, I got a ticket for zig-zagging around a big ‘ol truck that was cutting off my escape route to pull over. And the fucktard cop didn’t even believe that I was having car problems because Horus is so young (last odometer reading before dropping him off for service was at 2,785 miles). I’m currently waiting to hear from Barry, the Service Manager at Bob Smith, or Todd, the Customer Service Rep at MINI Corporate, about when I’ll be getting a new car per California’s Lemon Law. And a lifelong supply of MINI swag. And ghost flames. That’s what I get for naming the little dude after a dead Egyptian god instead of a metasociopsychosexual metaphor. Next one will be called Spanky. (Chucked the whole Hermaphrodite thing as nobody seems to want to pronounce it with a long “e” at the end.)

Just Fucking Annoying:

Finally, on the way home last night someone apparently blew up a cat on PCH, which I correspondingly drove through. At least that’s what the out-of-nowhere severe allergy attack felt like – coughing up a lung, eyes in mondo post-doobie state, and a chest full of phlegm that even my Super-Duper Asthma Inhaler couldn’t clear up, exactly as if someone had stuck a cat in my face. Hate that. I mean, normally I’d be all about blowing up cats on a public thoroughfare, but not if I have to drive through the mushroom cloud. I didn’t get my admissions essay for Antioch written, nor my resume updated, nor Chapter 1 of Goodnight Gracie on paper. Blech.