Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mortal Night

I just finished Dr. Atul Gawande's bestselling book, Being Mortal.  This important look at the way our health care model deals with end of life issues suggests that we focus on the home part of nursing home and ask different questions to those whose days are limited.  But before I turned the last page I had an unplanned field trip to my nearest hospital, briefly facing my own mortality in the back of an ambulance.
I had now warning or pain.  I read for an hour or so that evening and felt fine.  Early the next morning I felt slightly nauseous and ended up on the floor of my bathroom after vomiting blood.  Definitely surreal because what I puked was nearly black.  When my blood-pressure dropped dramatically, I went over and that prompted the 911 call and the remainder of that day and the next in the hospital.  I'm not only mortal, I'm lucky because a series of tests revealed only a very small ulcer and no other abnormalities.  In a few weeks, they'll send the little camera down my throat and monitor the healing.  I look forward to the return of coffee and beer/wine with my meals.

You live long enough and you know these things are are coming..without warning on occasion.  When they do, it's never as you imagined.  I can't help but think that reading that book prepared me for the emotional shock of being instantly vulnerable and in the hands of health care professionals who took blood and pieces of me to measure and analyze throughout the night.
Did my life flash before me?  Hardly, but I did have time to reflect on what I've accomplished thus far, and what I've still left to do.  The vulnerability has dogged me for the last 10 days or so.  I've noticed small things like not wanting to exert too much energy lest something snap or break, and my voice  has lessened in volume.  Wonder if that is common for those recently going through medical emergencies?    It's as if I need more confidence to resume where I left off.  There is the aura of a trauma here both for me and my family members.  Mortality does that now and again.

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