Before You’re Dead

I awoke to my wife pumping my chest and frantically call my name, “Jeff, Jeff, what’s happening!”  My only recollection was the shimmering ivy along the back fence, the muffled clarinet of Benny Goodman, and the submerged splashing coming from the water wall. Everything else was pleasantly blank, except that I suddenly felt woozy.

The paramedics were professional and personable. They hooked me up for the ride to the hospital. A fellow San Leandran took the lead and kept me talking. He had good reason to distrust my consciousness. I was still struggling to use it myself. All along the ride I tried to recall what may have happened. Once we reached the hospital it really didn’t matter. The staff was immediately on a mission to test, test, and test.

Ten thumping minutes in the CAT scan tunnel confirmed I had a brain. They seemed to be happy with how it functioned. The results weren’t shared so I’m assuming at least a passing grade. Once back in the exam room, an annoying beep kept going off randomly from the heart monitor connected to the nodes scattered across my chest. The beep was a missed beat and it was me. At least there wasn’t any fear of flat lining—or was there?

I spent the night in the hospital under the care of a motherly Philippian nurse. After disconnecting and reconnecting me to a new set of nodes, she softly assured me that I was plugged-in and set. Then she dimmed the lights and left the door ajar. It was odd to have someone accessing my heart via Wi-Fi.

I was bent on getting released the following morning, but I still had to dodge the concerns of Dr. Padma. She cited blood clots at least two or three times. The notion seemed reasonable but the thought of being plugged-in again started to take on a sci-fi feel. I envisioned myself spending Saturday afternoon plugged-in to a web of wires while stretched out on a stainless steel slab. That wasn’t happening.

I passed a couple more tests during the following week as I began to feel normal again. I suppose it was also normal to be shocked by suddenly being reminded of mortality. “Live for today and drink lots of water,” was the jest of repeated medical advice. Combine those two gems with, “Breathe in and breathe out,” and you have the Farmer’s Almanac secret to a long life. Although, once you’ve had a sip of death, you’ll consider most any advice.