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On Illness And Mortality….

Today, I experienced some really scary symptoms I haven’t had in a long time. I was just sitting at my computer after lunch, felt a sudden “Woosh”, a pulsing under my ears, and then everything got dizzy and it was as if my heart stopped. This is not the first time this has happened; it’s not even the 10th. All 12 doctors I’ve been to have told me there’s nothing wrong with me, although I was never able to complete the MRA of my arteries and the cardiologist refused to run anything but the most basic tests on me to rule out that I have any heart condition.

Every time it happens, it’s like someone presses the pause on the remote control. It’s a second, maybe two…but it’s enough to have the conscious thought: “This is it. This is what it feels like to die; helpless, and scary, and completely alone.” It is the scariest feeling you can imagine, and when it goes away, you never know when the next time is that it’s going to return…and if you’re going to make it through when it does.

And, when it’s over, it puts everything into perspective: all the stress about money and bills and your job, or whether or not someone you like actually cares about you in return, or whether all the fights with your significant other are just normal parts of a relationship, or you’re going to have to go through the painful process of ending a relationship with someone that is really special, but maybe not your soulmate. You let go of all the little things; the catty remark a friend made; the confused feelings you have about a valuable friendship in your life; all the reasons you avoid calling your parents; the medication that won’t let you lose weight, no matter how hard you try; the friend you’d like to get closer to, but lacks either the time or interest in doing so; the job that cuts your pay 60% and leaves you doubtful about your future, the books you started writing and will never finish; the significant other’s mother who calls you up to say she hopes you die, and threatens you or blackmails you into leaving town; the social engagements you skip because you don’t want everyone seeing you looking sad and fat and sick and you’re afraid something bad will happen and make you look crazy in front of others.

Sometimes I forget that maybe I don’t have enough time in life to take it all for granted, and spending time stressing out over long-term plans and the future is possibly not all that relevant. I’d give anything in the entire world just to be the healthy person I used to be. :( (( They always say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone..but a year ago, I had so much. I had worries, but I had health and energy, an attractive figure, an outgoing personality, a roommate to help with the bills, a job that was turning into a career…and it all disappeared, just like that. Whenever this illness hits hard, it reminds me of everything else I could lose. It makes me want to value everything, experience everything, fill my life with energy and love and laughter and fun and adventure, while I still can…because I know that being able to may just be a temporary situation. People much younger and much healthier than I am leave this world every day, and there are too many things left unsaid, too much love left unexpressed, too many things to put off until tomorrow, too many dreams that just don’t have enough time to come true.

I don’t want to feel that way. If I found out I only had a year to live, I’d put everything I ever had into making that year count. In some ways, being ill with something you don’t understand, your doctors don’t understand; well, it’s just as bad as knowing you might die some day soon. It’s more like a game of roulette with your future, and a reminder that you shouldn’t bet on the future.

If anything ever happens to me, I want everyone in my life to remember that in my world, they were very much loved and appreciated. I know I’m the kind of person that spends too much time either freaking out about the little things or just wanting to have fun, that I forget to mention how much I value those that are truly a close and meaningful part of my life. I wish I knew I had forever to tell people that…but I’m sometimes reminded that I don’t. I guess none of us do. You just have to value everything you have and love the people you have, while you have them.

But, mostly, I’m selfish. I just want my old life back, the one where the idea of my own sudden mortality doesn’t enter my thoughts and change everything. Maybe I’m physically ill in a way nobody has been able to diagnose, and the truth is, I’m not going to be here as long as I’d hope to be. I suspect that whether I’m 35 or 105 when I die, it will be too soon for me. Maybe I just can’t cope with anxiety, and for the first time in 6 months, my body got to the point where it just couldn’t cope, and the manifestation of that is physical. I don’t know. What I do know is that I want the life back where I was 5 times more energetic and productive, 25 pounds lighter as a result of being able to be energetic, and made 60% more every month. There are certainly some things I have now that I didn’t have then…including a greater sense of clarity, appreciation of closer relationships with others, and learning not to take anything for granted….but I think maybe I’d trade wisdom for health and vitality, any day.

Sometimes, I just feel so scared. And if something does happen to me that is unexpected, it won’t be totally unexpected…but I want to know that I am loved, and not alone, and on some level, at peace with myself, my life, and what I’m leaving behind. I hope that at least a few people will remember me in a positive way, and will go through life missing my presence. I hope that in some small way, my existence means something to the world.

And, more than anything, I hope I have more time than I feel I do in order to make that happen. But in case I don’t, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure each day counts as much as possible…as much as my physical health will allow, anyway.

Days are not unlimited. Each one should be special, in some little way. We all work so hard for a future that may never come, we forget about the precious nature of the moments we ignore along the way, the people we forget to love and appreciate and thank, the things we love we don’t have enogh time to do, the feelings we’re too uncomfortable to express.

I’m not going to live that way, because what I’ve learned is that not only is it true that some people don’t have that luxury…none of us do.

Not a single person on Earth is promised a tomorrow. It’s just more likely for some of us than others.


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