#7. I’ve Tested Positive. So Why are We so Afraid of Death?
[ its been a while since I’ve blogged. It just hasn’t seemed important to me to chat it up about sofas and drapes and paint color. And I have little interest in helping people make their home offices incredible… so its been a while ]
From the earliest age we are taught about certain guarantees of life.
We will die.
In the time between…
We’ll get sick. We’ll thrive. We’ll go to school. We’ll fall in love. We’ll experience relationship break ups and heart ache. We’ll pay taxes. We’ll start out small. We’ll grow to be tall. Its likely we’ll fight weight issues. We’ll have health challenges. We’ll get old. And as we get old we’ll get small again.
At the end of it – the end of each of our stories of individual life on this single blue marble floating in space… we’ll die.
It is in fact true that you can avoid taxes [ as long as possible anyway ], and that a picture doesn’t actually tell a 1,000 words – accurately anyway. It can – today – be so grossly altered to present a totally other reality.
Nothin’ you can do about it. We will all die. Me. You… all those we know and love.
I’m writing this in my son’s room. He’s with my ex this week, his other Father. I hate it when he’s gone. Hate it. I miss him so much. He’s at the stage in his life where he seems to grow exponentially in the course of 24 hours. And with the marking of 4 years now, each day is highlighted by the passing on of information and experiences and life, from a Dad.
He’s a smart fucking kid. I know I was nowhere near as smart as this kid is. And I’m not saying that because I’m his Dad. This kid is really fucking smart.
His preschool and all of us who village him, have been open and transparent about ‘ this moment ‘ we find ourselves in – this COVID19 moment. And how ‘ we meet it ‘ . While our little community of adults, responsible for raising a solid human being, have circled the wagons to insure he is as protected as can be, with all the other Littles in his tribe, we’ve also acknowledged that he – like all of us – will trip, stumble and fall in this moment. We have not encased him in a plastic rolling bubble believing for one moment that he is somehow unique or apart from being human. And I don’t require him to wear a mask.
He knows enough to know there is a grave virus going around. While he doesn’t fully understand death yet, he knows ‘ people die ‘ from this. And if they survive, the get really sick in the time from there to here. He knows how to wash his hands.
And then… he’s my son. The little dude that aches to stay up until 8 pm to do ‘ the nightly howling ‘ . He loves that!
We all get sick.
We all die.
… to deny it, or to try to defy it, is the grossest level of hubris we human beings can be accused of.
… and turn over our decision making to a government party – and I don’t care of what allegiance – is just flat stupid.
The past six or seven months seem so surreal. We don’t have hindsight yet… more just the twisting and turning of a summer’s day roller coaster ride where the view from the twist and turn you’re in in this moment, provides a fast view from your jettisoning cart of the twist and turn you were in in that last moment. At a time when amusement parks remain closed.
I feel like we were just celebrating a festival for Halloween in our front yard at the end of October with hundreds of neighbors stopping in to enjoy the performances we were hosting. That the first snows had just fallen in November. And that the all the grapes had finally been picked amidst another round of devastating Northern California fires. That the house was lit up with Christmas lights and an exuberant little dude tore through gift wrapping to explode with glee and spend a day outside in the snow playing in December. That we all heralded 2020… with all its metaphors. Deep in the middle of a competitive campaign to seat the next Democratic nominee for President. That I opened a Valentine card from Ciaran… and just cried. And that we were counting the days until daffodils started popping up to announce the season of beach, boats and fireworks.
And then an undefinable curtain started falling… in October, and with increasing aggression cast the globe into a suffocating darkness by March.
The entire globe. All 8 billion of us. Never before happened. A human history first on a catastrophic scale. In our lifetime.
On my own personal path its been a challenging time since October. A bitter trial culminating two years of proceedings to secure a Decree of Divorce, where two people who had previously committed their love and lives to one another did everything possible to tear one another apart. Within days, my body molecularly started breaking down – taking a cellular deep breath and finally letting go of all the anger and resentment and sadness and anxiety it had been holding after many years of unhealthy relationing.
As a body will do, I got sick. And sick. And sick again. And, as a rule, I’m one of those who really never gets sick. Everything from a bad cold, to an early flu bug, to GI issues, to a very unwelcome STD [ dumb fuck me celebrating new found guiltless sexual freedom – that was stupid ]. A new optician identified a new disorder that has launched me on a thyroid treasure hunt with my left eye that remains unresolved. Then, the week before Christmas my right eye starting going dark. On January 8th at 12:30 pm I got a call from my primary care physician. She shared with me, in no uncertain terms, that I was to get myself to the Emergency Room for admittance – IMMEDIATELY. That I was going to dive head first into a wildly aggressive antibiotics treatment that included heavy doses of penicillin and other antibiotics, intraveinously, every four hours for the following fourteen days. That something had invaded my central nervous system and I needed to get serious as fuck about throwing myself on the operating table.
“ I’m sorry… what the fuck? Wait, what? “ I was just walking in a light snow storm to get the mail and a latte. “ What the fuck are you talking about? “
I went home, packed an overnight bag, hustled to the ER. Within about an hour I felt like a lab rat. I kid you not, I had sixteen different care professionals circling me. Each sticking some new needle or other sharp object into some part of my body. Drawing any number of fluids out of my body – deep crimson red, burgundy/purple, bright yellow, waste water brown. Numbing my spine for a spinal tap and taking three vials of spinal liquid out of me – crystal clear diamond liquid. Setting up I.V. tubes and hanging bags on mobile racks. Attaching sticky plugs to my chest and hooking lines up to monitors that would quietly beep… forever.
That first night at the hospital, being nudged to wake up every four hours for injections, my mind was rattling, asking ‘ what the fuck is going on ?? ‘ . I felt perfectly fine outwardly. Actually had found myself in a nice place after all the reactive post-divorce physical meltdown of the previous three months. I was finally feeling ok. And aware of what I had been through. And now… I’m in some shitty hospital gown with my ass hanging out and tubes coming and going from every natural orifice of my body, with newly punctured openings adding to the count… for what? What is going on??
***** Here, I must give the deepest thanks to all the medical professionals of the Truckee Tahoe Forest Health District. AN INCREDIBLE TEAM – THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH, TOP TO BOTTOM – OF HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO HELD MY HAND, PROBLEM SOLVED, LISTENED, AND NEVER GAVE UP… THANK YOU!!!!!! Every single one! And p.s. – the rumors are true! They do in fact have great food! And will cater your meals to your exact needs… so cool!
After 7 nights, because I felt otherwise fine, we were able to argue with insurance that I could get a PICC line installed – that was a wowser moment. [ insert gag/barf choke noise ] And be released on my own self-care program from home with a mobile machine I would wear for the remaining seven days that pumped all the antibiotics into my body every four hours until complete.
**** Here again, I have to thank insurance. Thank God for Anthem Blue Cross. The medical bills have totaled some $ 90k to date. And I’ve only had to pull about $ 3k out of pocket. If there was ever a spokesperson for the importance of insurance, it is me. Thank you Anthem Blue Cross.
The day came to pull the PICC line out. Pretty uneventful for this queezy-at-the-sight-of-blood-big-dude. A tug and ‘ you’re all set ‘, and I was good to go with a bandage wrap and a lollipop.
Death denied. Defied. Bullet dodged. Even though we still don’t know quite what the fucking bullet was. And carry on.
Then my son got sick. He’s never sick. Ever. From day one, in a household filled with three [ not-so-clean ] golden retrievers, and a life filled with two [ not-so-clean ] big sport horses, living in the Lake Tahoe forest, ‘ cleanliness ‘ is a definition challenge that has long since been rewritten to our specific context. I don’t know if there’s been a day where his little mouth hasn’t had dog fur and mud in it. Is what it is. And aside from all the standard immunizations, which we strongly advocate for, he’s never sick. Runny nose, sometimes with big gross buggers… worst case.
So this little dude comes down with a respiratory emergency… shaking like an 8.0 earthquake for hours as night settled in, with a fever that spiked to 104. Rushing to the ER, a group of grounded, kind, compassionate pro’s kicks in. Smiling, making easy jokes, holding hands and petting foreheads. And while we’re watching Coco, they inject, and swab… and ultimately put him on an inhaler for two hours to provide direct-to-the-lungs penicillin mist that he had to breathe through, terrified at first, but then finding a conquering rhythm. He even wanted to take the contraption home when we departed. He thought it was cool. Funny little dude.
Again, what the fuck? My little dude is never sick. NEVER. And here he is, in tears, shaking, fever induced alternate reality, on a respirator thing, breathing misty penicillin air. What the fuck.
Diagnosis? ‘ Unidentified influenza ‘ .
He recovered quickly. And within a day was outside playing in the snow, hooting and hollering, giggling and screaming ‘ Dad come play with me! ‘ .
Done. Death denied. Defied. Carry on.
… wait, not yet.
On February 28th, a 30 ton lead brick wall smacked my sorry ass head on. What felt at first like an oncoming major diarrheatic / vomit event, within hours elevated to a bed ridden, fever defined, chest crushing, crippling fatigue. I’ve already had an emergency appendectomy, and this felt similar, but I knew it couldn’t be that.
I was in bed for 19 hours straight. Dead asleep and gone somewhere else. At best unable to lift my head. Running a 102 to 104 temperature. Crippling back of the head headaches. I never get headaches. They were ice pick, horror film piercing. Then… the next 24 hours was defined by a reduction in the fever. An ability to stand up and walk. Albeit hunched over and slow. And, other than the onset of intense brown lung butter that I coughed up like caterpillars being released from ferns for the next five weeks, I just thought – ‘ flu bug ‘ . Crazy, intense 24-hour flu bug. ‘ Haven’t had that one before ‘ , I told myself. And life, as it will, moves forward.
It was end of February, going through the door into March. Wuhan, China was in the news – a lot. And our orange faced clown of a President was assuring all of us that this ‘ Chinese ‘ virus had nothing to do with we Americans. Of course we all knew he was full of shit, but Ok… carry on. I’ve got a full calendar and important things to take care of. I have to have met my quota of getting sick within the past six months now. Lets get on with this.
In my episodes in January, no one knew to test for something that we now know is COVID19. In my son’s ER visit, we left with a diagnosis of ‘ unidentified influenza ‘ .
So, here we are. Its July. Going on August.
I don’t have a letter from an attorney that I keep in my back pocket outlining why I am an ‘ essential worker ‘ . And just writing that, I have to admit that I rest on that as an excuse to adamantly deny being locked down in my home or in any way step into a ‘ new normal ‘ where my own thoughtful, educated, thorough and independent decision making is taken over by a government authority.
I will listen. I will read. I will watch. I will absorb. I will respect. As I have done since this all started. But I will not turn over my rights. I will, after being as thoroughly educated as I can be, make my own decisions. This is even more especially true when what I’m being asked to do simply does not make sense… to me in a macro sense. And to me in a very personal micro sense.
Since this all started, as an essential worker, I have been up and down the states of California and Nevada. Several thousand miles on my new car. Jobsites from Santa Barbara, to Paso Robles to Tiburon, to Lake Tahoe and Truckee, and from Las Vegas to Reno. And for fun… returning to equine competitions, visiting family, and checking out new hotels and sourcing for projects. 90% of the time NOT wearing a mask. And 99% of the time NOT wearing gloves. My daily expulsion of bodily waste has never once mandated the hoarding of toilet paper.
So I circle back… to death.
In this ‘ meet the moment ‘ reality what do the facts tell us? As I write on July 26th, 2020, the facts tell us in the United States that:
- There are 4.29 million confirmed cases
- There are 1.28 million recovered cases [ I’m one of those]
- There are 149,000 confirmed deaths.
- There are 331,002,651 of us in the US [ … funny – who is that final 1? ]
… I’m going stop there with the US. Lots of other stats. But these are the macro highlights.
As of July 26th, 2020, the facts tell us on Planet Earth that:
- There are 16.1 million confirmed cases
- There are 9.29 million recovered cases [ I’m one of those ]
- There are 645,000 confirmed deaths.
- There are 7,800,000,000 million of us on Planet Earth [ … I hope 1 made the cut? ]
… lots of other stats I’m not going to mention here either.
In the United States of America, the 149,000 blessed souls who have lost their lives to COVID19 from our 331,0002,651 million citizens, represent:
.00005% of the total US population.
On Planet Earth, the 645,000 blessed souls who have lost their lives to COVID19 from our 7,800,000,000, represent:
.00008% of the total global population.
Speechless. Frustrated. Angry. Sad. Disillusioned.
I don’t feel safe. Or taken care of. Or like someone responsible is watching out for us.
Or that any of this makes one bit of fucking sense under any scenario being presented to us.
The decisions made for us by national political and health care leaders – these so called ‘ mandatory orders ‘ …. are deeply flawed. Gross lack of leadership. Inexcusable lack of coordination. Heavily biased and politically agendized paths mandated for us all, in the face of violating our Constitutional rights under no existing or enforceable law, amidst a daily deluge of drum beating that does not connect any dots to justify any of the responses in operation, or their exaggerated heavy handed implementation. A conscious denial of common sense, propped up and masked by layers of lies intended to terrify a population into submission.
The next terrifying question… ‘ what are we being asked to submit to? ‘. … we’ll soon find out. I am deeply concerned we won’t fare well.
I don’t want to die. Or in my case, go blind, and whatever the hell else I managed to dodge since October. I don’t want cancer. I don’t want a degenerative death like Alzheimers, or Dementia. Lou Gherrigs or Muscular Dystrophy.
When I do die, I pray its quick. A bus? A heart attack – either deep in sleep or in the throws of great sex.
At the end of the day, I know inherently, I don’t have a choice. When its time – immediate or slow’n’go – it’ll be time.
I’m not afraid of it… it’s a guarantee. God will call me and Mother Nature will hold my hand. I’ll take my last breath, and go to forever sleep six feet under with hundreds of iceberg roses in bloom above me.
We all die.
I have the COVID19 antibody. I hope someday – very soon, you will to.
Lets move forward.