Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.
Jorge Luis Borges
This quote came to mind when I read on TheSandyTongue BigSexy’s(the author of that blog) first experience of death. It was a very moving and touching experience and Im sure it will make you approach Tuesday morning differently. I thought, being inspired I would share with you all one aspect this singular moment for me is something that over the years become more and more felt.
Return From LA
I was returning from Los Angeles. I had seen my then lady and met her family and was flying back to NYC. I feel into a deep sleep right after take off and had one of those strange prophetic dreams. In the dream I had to fight for my life against an endless stream of just dudes, which i did and then I saw myself sitting down next to and old lady crying. She told me I am about to go through an immense deal of pain, and that it hasn’t been decided if I may die but not to worry in either case. She told me a bunch of things else I don’t remember, about life and my own life and then she said bye to me.
Once she said bye to me, I immediately felt a sharp pain in my back. I woke up groggy as if I had been asleep for days, covered in sweat. We had flown into turbulence a terrible storm and though the cabinw as pressurized there was a dip in the partial pressure of Oxygen and I had a sickle cell attack. The most intense one to date. I could barely talk, and was slow and lethargic and the pain got worse and worse and I started to sweat more. I found out we were 45 minutes into a 6 hour flight. I was certain not from the dream but the intensity of the pain that I was going to die. I said my good-byes to everyone in my heart just in case I was on my way out and I prepared myself to go with some dignity if I had to go.
What happens under stress, is that my blood cells change to a sickle shape and they clog arteries and major vessels. Luckily in my life my pains (caused by these blockages) have been localized to my knees and back. I’m quite lucky, if they were to happen in other places, i could get a stroke or heart attack
Pain episodes experienced by patients with sickle cell disease vary tremendously in frequency and severity. Some patients rarely have painful crises, while others spend the greater part of a given year in the hospital receiving analgesics. To complicate matters further, the pattern of pain varies over time, so that a patient who has a particularly severe year may later have a prolonged period characterized by only minor pain. The frequency and severity of pain episodes often change as a person moves from childhood to being an adult. Patients can develop agonizingly severe pain in as little as 15 minutes. In other instances, the pain gradually escalates over hours or even days.
The Passion of MrMary
People tell you life is short and that’s bullshit. Five hours and 15 minutes of pure agony, feels like lifetimes. An hour past and I looked like I had gone for a swim. I felt myself starting to fade into and out of consciousness and remember thinking “aint this some bullshit, I am going to go without hearing anything but the wind and propellors, not even a chance to look up at the sky again.”
It was at this time the older woman sitting next to me saw me and I think we talked for a minute, eventually she signalled the crew for me.They asked if there was anything I need and I said water, they offered pain killers so they gave me 3 aspirin. Generally if I was in the ER they would have put me on and opiod analgesic.
They alerted Chicago O’ Hare that they may have a sick patient who needs medical attention. However I was adamant that I would rather die (literally) than to stop the plane. I said imagine how many people would be inconvenienced for one person. They thought I was off, and left me alone because it took some focus and energy to speak, but they sent someone to check on me quite often. (Love Jet Blue)
The Sincerest Convo Ever
The women who got the crew for me decided to talk to me and keep me “here”. It was one of the kindest acts someone has ever done for me. You cannot have a more sincere conversation with someone than when you think you are gonna die. She was a producer and worked for NBC on doing documentaries. She worked on one recently at the time about the struggles in Northern Ireland. I regaled her with my knowledge of Northern Ireland politics I had ascertained at the time and made her laugh a bit or two (No dirty jokes though -I can be quite charming).
Before I knew it NYC was an hour away. I figured somewhere it was decided that I was going to live a bit more. We talked some more but I don’t remember what about. My mind wasn’t fully there. Once we landed and the air pressure was normal the pain left and I could walk around still slow though. But the damage internal was done it took over a month to healed and move around normally. What I mean by this was that every time I tried to make fast movements, I would be beset with a horrible pain. I stayed at home and rested then I was back at work in my laboratory 2-3 days later taking things glacially slow.
Of course it was just my luck that there was a Blackout a few days later in NYC and I had to walk 5 hours in the summer sun to get home. It was also my luck that I was never able to contact the lady who helped me out a lot and say thanks, she lived in Conn and had a connecting flight to catch. She gave me a big hug and told me to hang in there and ran off.
After that, it was hard to take a lot of stuff seriously or get caught up in a lot of the BS. I went a little mad, in the good sense, somewhere in that world of pain there was a taste of being free. Reminds me of something I read today, not saying that I am free at all but it rings a bell somewhere
Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even
in his own personality: he’s free.”