"I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens."
I've lived most of my adult life on the edge of Croak City. I'm here to tell you that while the metropolis itself may be nothing to fear, hanging around on the outskirts can really get to you.
I'm the type of chick who used to regularly land in the ER with drastic symptoms of Toxic Shock Syndrome (hypothermia, non-discernable blood pressure, rash, unconsciousness), back when that was all the rage. (What can I say? I came of age in the '70s.)
I've had my doctor tell me that when he got the call from the hospital to meet the ambulance there, and they described my condition to him, the only thing he could think as he raced down the highway was, "Disaster."
I've watched so many doctors examine my test results before uttering one of the few words a patient really hates to hear--"Interesting"--that it's not even funny anymore.
As my disorders became less dramatically deadly, they increased in number. I embraced fibromyalgia (ouch!) and several undiagnosed bouts of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I've had quite of number of major surgeries, too, the most major--as far as potential for unhappy outcomes--being brain surgery.
Still, I've got to say, I'm happy with the outcome. And not just with the brain surgery, either. I'm happy that even though I really am one day closer to my actual demise with each passing twenty-four hours, I no longer subsist in a crummy shack on the run-down edge of Croak City.
You see, I've spent most of my adult life dying. Until the past five years, when I reclaimed my health, every time I caught up with the laundry I did it so that my husband and kids would have clean underwear for as many days as it took to get them past my funeral. I used to load up my freezer with casseroles and cookies, figuring that if I dropped dead that day, like I fully expected to, they'd thank me later.
For the food, that is. Not for the dropping dead--at least, I hoped not.
I don't cook so far ahead these days. And my laundry's on a long leash, too. I stopped believing that I'm somehow slotted for an early check-out and decided to do everything I should to take care of myself, so that I at least enjoy the possibility of living a long and productive life. Amazingly, with only a few positive steps on my part, the bulk of my health issues resolved.
Like everyone else, I know I can only count on this moment. It's all we've got, any of us. I think I've been through as many near-death experiences (real and imagined) as it took for me to have largely lost my fear of death by now.
But unlike Woody Allen, I definitely want to be there when it happens.
(Thanks to Michael O'Connnor
for suggesting this quote. Feel free to send your favorites our way.)
Posted by Katy
on 01/22/05 at 03:17 PM
- Ah, yes. TSS - the disease that every girl who's read the side of a tampon box dreads.
I, for one, am glad you're still around, Katy. :)
Posted by Bethany on 01/24/05 at 06:19 AM
- Cool! TSS is on the side of the tampon box? Does anyone ever actually get it anymore? What's up with that, anyway? If it was "real" in the 70s, wouldn't it still be happening?
Also, I didn't have TSS. My doctor thoroughly believed I did, because of my symptoms and very near proximity to death's door, but he ruled it out. Mainly because I didn't use tampons!
For a chick who's sworn off writing about underwear ever again, this is a great topic, huh? ;)
Posted by Katy Raymond on 01/24/05 at 04:47 PM
- Katy - Yeah, there is a whole pamplet inside tampon boxes about the symptoms and dangers of TSS, what to do if you're exhibiting symptoms ("remove tampon immediately and call your physician"), etc. I don't know anyone who's ever actually had it, but it does make a girl paranoid. :)
Posted by Bethany on 01/24/05 at 06:45 PM
- OK, that settles it! I'm googling this puppy. Gonna find out if there are recently documented cases of TSS from tampon use. (Like in the last 15 years or so.) And if not, pray tell, WHY NOT? How could it have been happening in the 70s and not be happening now? I will report my findings...
Posted by Katy Raymond on 01/24/05 at 06:55 PM
- I had my "episode" which mimicked TSS in January, 1983, at the height of the TSS scare. It really was freaky at the time.
This is from MayoClinic.com :
The brand of tampons associated with the original toxic shock syndrome epidemic in the 1980s ? Rely tampons ? was voluntarily taken off the market by the manufacturer. Since then, the number of cases of toxic shock syndrome has declined dramatically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of reported cases of toxic shock syndrome fell from a peak of 813 in 1980 to 61 in 1989 to less than 10 annually by the late 1990s.
Posted by Katy Raymond on 01/24/05 at 07:06 PM
- I can handle any scare about my own demise.
But when a chest surgeon looks at me and tells me my three year old son's shadow on his chest xray may be a mass. And we won't know if its malignant until we open him up. That's when I lose it. I remember needing to be near a toilet, or a bucket. Well, he's 34 now and still here.
Posted by Candace Pfau on 01/25/05 at 02:23 AM
- Candace--I know how you feel! When my baby was 2 months old, he was still jaundiced. They scurried him into the hospital for days of tests, using scary words like "biliary atresia" and "liver transplant."
Kevin does have a liver disease which is genetic, called alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency. And yet, he's always been my healthiest kid! Many people have faithfully prayed for my son...
I, like you, can take the medical heat when it's about me....but I'm a wimp when it's about my husband and kids.
Posted by Katy Raymond on 01/26/05 at 02:51 PM
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