Monday, October 28, 2013

I am become Death, destroyer of worlds

I've noticed lately that I've been kind of obsessing over my death.
Notice that it's death, not suicide.  I don't remember ever having anything close to a suicidal thought.  I'm not that far gone, and I don't think I could be.
I've written before, somewhere, about the untimely death of a high school friend's younger brother.  It was the day after his birthday, they found him dead in bed.  The previous night he'd tried to do some fancy gymnastics into the swimming pool and cracked his head on the concrete side.  He went to bed that night complaining of a headache, and never woke up.
Later in life the memory of this would lead me to realize how close we almost accidentally kill ourselves all the time.  I had begun hanging out with Voldemort again, it was Christmastime, and we went shopping together at the Galleria, where he decided he wanted to go ice skating.  And wanted me to as well.
I should point out that I was probably sixty pounds heavier at the time and had never been ice skating.  My response should have been, "No, I don't want to snap both my ankles," but I'd been trying to be friends with V again because I didn't have any other friends in Dallas at the time.
V was not much better than me at skating.  Children routinely lapped him.  I myself clung with a white-knuckled fear-grip to the side, slowly inching my way around the rink.
When the fall happened, I immediately thought I was dead.  My head cracked on the ice and I actually felt what I assume was my brain bouncing around in my skull.  I was unable to speak and the only thing I could do is whisper "help" to the halo of faces looking down at me.
In the nurse's office I was told I should probably get some stitches, which I declined.  At the time I did not realize that my scalp actually ripped open a little, or that a small puddle of blood had pooled beneath my head.  All I could think of was how I was going to die like that kid did.  I did not sleep that night.  And ever since then, any headache, no matter how small, is met with the knowledge that I've probably blown a vein in my brain and if I go to sleep I will never wake up.
Since then I've been acutely aware of how close we all actually come to snuffing it all the time.  I think most people need that kind of experience before they also see it.  This past year has been a particularly busy one, as I've nearly died six times... or rather, came close to a life threatening injury, technically.
1.  Stroke-- It started with the stroke, of course.  In fact if Dale hadn't been there I probably would have died from it.  He convinced me to go to the hospital.  Nobody else in my life, aside from my little brother, could have done that.
The weirdest thing is, although something was obviously wrong, it didn't feel like it.  You expect something like a stroke to be painful:  it wasn't.  Aside from the fact that my arm and leg weren't obeying my commands, I didn't feel like there was anything wrong with me.  That's what I would tell potential stroke victims... yes, there are signs that can warn you you're having one, and it can also feel completely different or like nothing at all.  It's not a heart attack.  It seems most strokes are caused by lack of oxygen reaching the brain for some reason, which also happens to be why seizures often occur after a stroke as well... the brain knows something is wrong and is temporarily shutting down the system in hopes of getting more oxygen.
2.  Shower-- I've never been the most graceful person, but after the stroke I've had to remedy that and be more careful in my movements.  There are still the occasional hiccups.  One was, while still recovering, getting tangled up in the shower curtain and nearly plunging to the floor.  My bathroom, being tiny, affords me many ways to crack my skull open in such a scenario.  Luckily, my wet leg slipped free and I gained my balance.
3.  Shampoo-- I know they think it's clever marketing to give a shampoo bottle a distinctive shape, but if it's not shower caddy friendly it might as well be a land mine.  Luckily, the shower grip I grabbed onto after tripping on the bottle held. 
4.  Chuck Taylors-- My shoes slipped on a patch of ice after an ice storm.  Luckily I fell into a freshly plowed snowbank rather than the pavement, which otherwise would have split my skull open just as the ice rink tried to.
5.  720-- I really have no idea how I came out unscathed from this one.  I was making a sharp left off the on-ramp in Winchester when my little truck started hydroplaning.  I knew enough to let off the gas, but with my power steering out, my steering wheel couldn't right itself, and I continued hydroplaning in a doughnut WITH A LINE OF CARS BEHIND ME THAT DIDN'T REALIZE I WAS HYDROPLANING.  I have no idea how I  didn't plow into one.  I came to a stop after doing two full loops.  Jesus. 
The sixth one is frankly boring and another shower story.  Didn't have body wash, soap slips, I nearly slipped on the soap.  What a boring way to die that would have been.