April 23, 2003
Just got back from a catscan. Drove down to Phoenix at seven this morning to get a blood test, then back up to Carefree to pick up my Ready Cat (which is a barium drink to prep and highlight your innards for the catscan). The jar was big and industrial looking. In fact, the logo on the front could easily be mistaken for a generic Draino design. But I drank the stuff (it actually tasted great because I had been fasting for five hours!) and I got ready for the big scanorama at 1:30.
Finished quite a bit of work in the office (funny what you can get done when you think you might die). Lots of mortality thoughts. The doctor asked me Monday, “On a scale of one to ten how bad is the pain?” and I said, “A six.” He then told me very emphatically, “Do not be a hero. You need to go to ER if the pain continues and is bad.” Yeh, yeh, I thought. But what is bad? Guys are taught to suck it up. No pain, no gain. Don’t be a crybaby.
On Tuesday night, when I couldn’t find a position that didn’t hurt, Kathy asked me how bad was the pain and I said “A six.” Don’t you think we should go to the emergency room?” she pleaded with me. “No,” I said, “It’s just a six.” Later that night, after she had gone to sleep and I couldn’t because of the pain, I thought of a ton of things, mostly regrets at all the things I didn’t do, all the crap food I wished I hadn’t eaten, and of a paramedic friend of a friend, who told the story of answering a 911 call in Prescott Valley. He and his team pulled up to a double-wide and followed a frantic woman into their kitchen and there they found her husband on the floor, clutching his chest. The paramedic got down on his knees and said in a loud voice, “Can you hear me?” The guy shook his head yes. “What is the pain level, on a scale of one to ten?” The guy said, “A six.” And died.
So on a guy scale, if six is death, what is a ten? Purgatory squared? Do we “gut it out” when we should be “heading out” to the ER? Believe me, these thoughts were on my mind, but for some reason I still couldn’t bring myself to wake up my wife and go to the emergency room. Why? I didn’t want to spend the money (the next day my wife said, “But it’s free!” and I said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”) and I didn’t want to put on that stupid gown and sit on a cold, metal examining table and answer stupid questions from third-shifters. I know. I know. With an attitude like this, I deserve to die.
Somehow I survived until now and even as I type this I’m waiting for the verdict (the catscan people said my doctor would have the results this afternoon).
“Life is suffering.”
—Buddha (Thanks Fat Boy)
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