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Article Posted: 06/09/2024
Article Views: 155
Articles Written: 217
Word Count: 1269
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Current Affairs,Health,Seniors
February 1, 2023 is forever burned into both my conscious and subconscious minds. Try as I may, I cannot wish it away. It hangs out there like an unpleasant odor—worse, like a fart in church (to complete the metaphor). What I mean is that it’s not an enjoyable recollection; rather it’s like September 11 (or December 7 for my parents’ generation)—my personal day of infamy.

Here it is: At 12:09 am I was informed my heretofore very healthy wife had stepped beyond the veil of existence. I mean, c’mon universe! She was in top condition—best she’d been in for years. The circumstances leading up to that astonishing conclusion were at best surreal. It made zero sense—to me anyway.

In a weird twist of fate those same circumstances confronted me a little over a year later. The lesson is this: We have no idea of how close to death we really are. The old saw of being “a heartbeat away” is definitely an accurate, if uncomfortable, depiction.

Kay arrived home about 1:00 pm January 31 after volunteering that morning at a food bank—one she managed for four years. After her term expired, she stayed on for another year to help out. She always believed in the best of her fellow humans even those with drug problems—even after one of them stole $400 from her purse. She normally came home in a sunny mood, but that day—her last day—she was not happy. Not at all. I’d never seen her in such a negative state of mind. Apparently, a number of things had gone sideways with many of the recipients exhibiting an ungrateful, demanding and demeaning mood. I advised her to leave the organization for her own wellbeing, then as an afterthought, asked if she wanted to play tennis to work off some stress. After a “welcome home” hug, she said she suddenly had chills and wanted to cover up on the couch. Since she was “never” ill, I was surprised but not concerned. Anyway, over the next few hours the dominoes-started-to-fall which ended in her untimely and surprising death. It’s still a mystery. Talk about a shock! Get this: When she appears in a dream it’s so realistic that I believe the image is reality, and that reality is the dream. Strange, huh?

For me, after so many years of married life, being alone is an adjustment, as I knew it would be. I have many good friends in the neighborhood, but (still) coming home at night to a silent, dark and empty house is, well, a bit unnerving. I doubt if I’ll ever get used to it. I think of a Santana song, Evil Ways, with the lyrics, “…my house is dark and my pots are cold…” It’s like a tomb where I constantly see teasing shadows of her. I suppose that’s what people mean when they say (offhandedly), “Well, you have your memories.” Here’s a flash for you, folks, memories are not the same. Memories don’t keep you warm at night. And they don’t make you laugh. But they can definitely make you cry.

Fast forward to April 17, 2024. After eating a turkey sandwich for lunch—the turkey newly purchased from a local market—I sat reading waiting for George and Sheryl, house guests from Vancouver, BC former residents who that day were visiting other friends in the neighborhood. A sudden shudder…and another…and another…teeth chattering chills. It was just like those Kay experienced. The first thing I thought was food poisoning—what’s with that turkey? Outside, it was a sunny, mid-90s kind of day. Even with a jacket on, standing in the courtyard, the chills remained. I thought maybe some hot tea…no change. So, I did what Kay did on her final day. Hopped into bed, covered up and went in and out of sleep. I woke during the night with cyclical diarrhea and vomiting, which depleted my electrolytes and brought about severe dehydration. Dehydration can kill quickly and one never sees it coming until it’s too late. I wasn’t aware of that at the time.

Later, I was informed that my nervous system had crashed resulting in total loss of strength and body coordination, I laid on the bathroom floor like a slug still having to use the facilities for every bodily function imaginable. I tried mightily to rise from the floor only to go crashing down headfirst on the tile (at least twice) causing a concussion and opening a small artery above my left eye. In the morning my guests found me amidst a pool of blood and other fluids and tried to help me rise. Somehow, I ended up back in bed—a total mess—and they called 9-1-1. I’m pretty sure their discovery and timely call saved my life.

The first thing the EMTs did was transfer me to a gurney and take my blood pressure. It was 137 over 73, which was a clue that I would survive if I received immediate medical attention. I did. As a comparison, when they first got to Kay her blood pressure was a flat 70, and although they pumped her full of saline solution and epinephrin (adrenalin), she couldn’t recover. Had I called 9-1-1 earlier, would she have survived? That’s the unanswerable question that has been dogging me since.

I was more fortunate. In addition, to being attended before my blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level, like Kay I was very fit with zero aches and pains and taking no medication for anything. I was a healthy dude. Otherwise…who knows?

By three-thirty that same afternoon, I’d been pumped full of liquids and electrolytes, stitched up, and sent home. I was fitted for a cervical collar because MRI revealed a fracture of the C-4 vertebrae, which was later downgraded to a sprain. Again, I believe that had it been not for George and Sheryl my fate could have been quite different.

Naturally, upon arriving home, I was quite weak but I couldn’t wait for a hot, soapy shower. After lying in slime and ooze I was one stinky dude—a walking trash dump. Through a friend, I contracted for a professional cleaner to get the house back in order.

Ten days later, April 27, while playing a gig with the No Namers Band I experienced the Genesis for a different kind of life lesson. From a promising beginning, by May 27 I learned that as hard as it is to lose someone through death, it may be even harder to lose someone who’s still alive—but by this writing—I’m thinking maybe not. Fickle me is viewing the situation with detached ho-hum curiosity. I mean, best efforts cannot push a square peg through a round hole, right? Whatever, that’s another story and one I doubt I’ll ever relate. (Good teaser though, huh?)

AFTERWORD: I have been advised by a number of friends to get fitted with one of those I’ve-fallen-and-can’t-get-up necklaces—especially since I’m normally alone. I get their point. I really do. However, at that particular moment in time (perhaps not being rational) I would not have initiated the alarm. Even if I would have had my mobile phone handy, I would not have dialed 9-1-1. Even after George told me he was going to make the call, I tried to talk him out of it. In my mind, all I needed to do was rest and selfheal. I know now that without hydration and electrolytes restored into my body, the result may have been (gulp) quite undesirable. Fortunately, I missed an appointment with Sleep’s big brother.

Respectfully submitted by your working boy, Gene Myers (still kicking, smelling good, and ready for anything)

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