04/15/2017

I’m Supposed To Be Dead Today

Erick Erickson, The Resurgent

I am not supposed to be writing this. I am not supposed to be here. I am supposed to be six feet under, decomposing. One year ago today, I got wheeled into a cardiac ICU unit and treated for a stroke. I had not actually had a stroke, but a steady, slow accumulation of blood clots in my lungs to such an extent the doctors decided to treat me as if I had a stroke. They pumped tissue plasminogen activator into my body for a day before moving to other blood thinners.

I do not say lightly or hyperbolically that I should be dead. I just happen to be reminded of it regularly. The damage done to my lungs was, in small ways, permanent because of the length of time between passing the clots and discovering them. Occasionally now the wall of my chest cavity swells, presenting the same symptoms of passing clots. I have found myself in the emergency room several times since last year. Each time, except the most recent time, the attending physician always tells me he has never seen a case so bad where the patient lived. “You should be dead,” the doctor most often says.

This last time, a month or two ago, the doctor said to me, “Well, I’ve seen worse than that,” before laughing and saying, “no actually, I haven’t. You’re supposed to be dead. You know that right?”

The cadence and rhythm of middle of the night trips to the emergency room and plain statements that I am supposed to be dead try often to pull me into a psychological melancholy. Yes, I get it. I am supposed to be dead. Really and with no hyperbole, I should not be here to type this.

When I first got into the ICU, the doctor on the floor saw my scan just outside the door, oblivious to me in the room. “Have you taken this body to the morgue,” he asked the nurse. “That would be me,” I shouted out to him laughing. I do not really laugh about it any more. What I thought was a laughing matter very nearly put me on the other side of eternity from my family.

The punchline to the whole sordid affair was finding out my wife has a rare form of lung cancer only a week after I got out of the hospital.

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