Friday, January 06, 2006
While I was working on my life with the girls--All The Girls I've Loved Before--this idea came up. Really it came up while I was in the shower yesterday and I organized it in my mind while finishing up painting the back doors
You probably have been closer to death than I have ever been. Your situations might be interesting for people to know about. They help people think about how fragile we humans really are. I think of this often when I squash a bug. Our bodies squash too. And bleed, crush, etc.
Too, you will see in some there wasn't any real danger for me. Those were like the deal when the ear doctor couldn't find any reason for my earaches and I told him "it was all in my head." He was an old German doctor and got really upset. He walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. I never saw him again.
My Nine Lives, How I've Spent The Ones Already Gone:
1. The Honda experience: It went from bad to worse. I parked it finally when Karen was born. I had new responsibilities that would last for almost twenty more years.
The bad: I got to be terribly daring with it, even passing cars who wouldn't move over by making a 'middle lane.' One veer by an angry driver would have killed me fast.
The worse: While coming to the crest of an overpass on a Houston freeway--at a break the law speed--all the cars ahead were stopped for a wreck. Hit the brakes hard, right? Yes, correct, but both brakes. In my panic and forgetfulness I applied only the back brake. The bike turned sideways just like we always used to do with our bikes to make a hero stop. I let up fast enough that it righted itself.
Scare rank: 4 (out of 1 to 8, 8 being the highest level of scare)Danger rank: 6 (ditto as above, this time for level of danger)
2. Unmentionable event: It was in Galveston at an unmentionable location. If either of us would have had a gun the other would have not been around today. I was in the right but should not have been so angry. That was a long time ago. It wouldn't happen that way now. I wouldn't even be there.
Scare rank: 6
Danger rank: 3
3. My aneurysm: It was, and still is*, an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) . These are labeled the silent sudden death aneurysm because they often rupture without a previous hint of trouble. 90% of AAA ruptures result in death.
Mine was found accidentally while the doctors were taking multitudes of pictures of various kinds trying to pinpoint the problem causing my terrible backaches.
Scare rank: 2Danger rank: 8
4. My artery blockage: For my xxth birthday I had threatened to run away. Of course Mrs. Jim would know, but even she wouldn't know where I would be for a couple of weeks.
That happened. I ran away with two women. To New York City we went, Mrs. Jim, Karen, and me. Karen was running in the New York City Marathon that year and she had invited us to go watch her at the last minute.
While sight seeing Mrs. Jim and Karen had us walk back from Battery Park to Times Square. I was puffing a lot doing that, really badly not breathing enough. It was a welcome relief when we stopped near Grand Central Station at an underground restaurant for my birthday dinner.
The following Monday I had my stress EKG test where they found symptoms. Dr. Hernandez, an affiliate of Dr. Krajcer, placed a stent in my left descending artery which was blocked 85%.
The right side was blocked 95% but could not be stented because it had never developed properly. You can call me half-hearted. That is true. It sure will hurt my feelings though if you do.
Scare rank: 1
Danger rank: 7 (possible heart attack)
5. Skidding sideways going 60 mph in a convertible with the top down: That is dangerous, top up or down. I had made a last minute turn to exit the freeway and the car just didn't want to do it. I was afraid for a minute it was going to tumble. That happened fast, and then it was over without incident after some skillful maneuvering.
Scare rank: 5
Danger rank: 5
6. Walking in shipyard in Alexandria, Egypt: We had been to Cairo that day and returned after dark to Alexandria where our cruise ship was moored. Upon reaching the ship I realized my wallet was missing. The worst thing that could have happened was losing it to a pickpocket.
Not nearly so bad was the idea that it slipped out of my pocket and was still in the bus. I walked through the deserted shipyard in the dark to where I thought the busses were parked. I even found our bus and there in my seat was the billfold.
I hadn't gotten very far back when I was confronted by two 'policemen' in a marked car. Earlier on the streets the police were patrolling with bayonets attached to their rifles. I could only think of those guys when motioned for me to get in the car. First I explained my situation, not knowing how much English they understood. For sure these guys weren't speaking English.
So I got in the car and headed off to who knew where. I was feeling very thankful to them when we showed up at our ship.
Scare rank: 7Danger rank: 2
7. The night the lights came on: It was in El Paso. The street our house was on was the last one before the Rio Grande River and Mexico. That didn't have much to do with my scare. What happened was for some reason I woke up in the middle of the night and figured out that the kitchen light was on. It wasn't supposed to be on, no one should have been our there.
I stayed in bed for seemingly a very long time. Then with a board in hand [doesn't everyone have a big board in their bedroom?] I quietly headed toward the kitchen to see what was happening. Everything was very quiet. So was I. Nothing was going on there. I figured out in the morning that the light switch had been going bad and this was the first time it I noticed that it failed.
Scare rank: 8
Danger rank: 1
8. Spare, not yet used: I could put about going to the outhouse at night when sister Lois and I were kids. She is five years younger than me. I sure didn't like to go our there by myself in the dark. I don't ever remember doing that. Lois would always go with me. Not really to protect me but to help me watch for scary things.
Scare rank: Off the chart -- 9Danger rank: Under the chart -- 0
9. Spare, not yet used (this could be the BIG ONE): When I was showering and painting I think there were more. Of course I didn't write them down and can't remember any right now.
* The aneurysm is under control. I have a new type stent graft put inside it. Dr. Krajcer, my cardiologist at St. Lukes Hospital in Houston, is a leader in this field. Incidentally, Albert Einstein died of an AAA. He had declined corrective surgery at St. Lukes. At that time there were no stents to fix this problem. They would have sewn a hose in place of the artery. The success rate for this surgery was low in 1955. This is one of an example of being smart, very smart, and still making wrong decisions.
July 13, 2017 update: I'm probably using up my spare # 9 life now. In January, 2016, the stent graft started leaking, and endoleak in medical terminology.
Again my good cardiologist, Dr. Krajcer, came to my rescue. He did a ceramic wrap, wrapping the leak and then gluing it all with ceramic glue. This procedure was also done by going up my groin arteries (both sides) with his instruments and supplies.
BTW, I say now, having started my nine life, that I am counting down now instead of counting forward. Besides that I have reached an age older than most men reach. OBE.
Enjoy the weather!
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