About Dying

About Dying

 
I love telling of my adventures….

Little death

I’ve come close to death three times. Once when I caught hepatitis from a dirty needle. Second when I was bitten by a rabid dog in India and third when I contracted lung cancer.

Well there was a time when I was eight and on the verge of meningitis. I awoke in the morning and started coughing up blood, lots of it. The doctor was called and I can remember him examining me and then calling my mother over to the window. I can see them now, the doctor talking in hushed tones and shaking his head. Oh dear I’m going to die I thought to myself. They came over to me my mother was ashen. The doctor looked at me and noticed blood on my pillow and asked about it. Oh I had a heavy nosebleed in the night. Sigh of relief was palpable. It turned out I had had a massive nose bleed and swallowed all the blood! So I don’t count that as a near death experiece.

The first time I nearly died was when I was 22 I shared a needle (injecting for the last time – ever) with a friend and eight of us caught hepatitis and had to be hospitalised. I was not going to Neasden Isolation Hospital in London so I dragged myself to my friend’s house In Clydach Vale, Tony Pandy, Rhondda Valley, South Wales. I was very ill. I was slowly dying. I don’t know how I did it but I made it to a local GP and he sent me home with some pills. They didn’t work and I wasn’t getting better. I went back and he saw the true state of me. He admitted me that day to a wonderful hospital high up in the valleys. I was there for three weeks and was treated like a king. I recovered.

The second time was when I was bitten by a rabid dog. About twenty of us were attending a meditation course in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India. It was quite isolated. It was 1976 i think. It was an old colonial hill station and we had rented a lovely house on a hill top. We had a pet dog that started acting strangely and had already bitten six of us, breaking skin. When I saw he had chewed his metal bowl to pieces, well something was seriously wrong. I was in charge of him. Two idiots decided the poor chained up dog needed a walk OMG anyway when I heard I ran to them and the dog was going mad on his chain. I rescued them and in doing so I was bitten.

Six of us were bitten and if he was truly rabid we needed to know. So took him to a local doctor who said yes he was rabid and had to be put down, our cherished pet. So we didn’t accept it, the doctor was a bit daft, so we needed a second opinion. The only hospital was at a not too far away university hospital. We all piled into a taxi for the three hour journey and tied the dog wrapped in blankets to the roof rack. We headed down the mountain. There was a landslide earlier and the road was blocked so we had to return home. In the two days that followed we read up on rabies. It was fatal and you shook yourself to death. It was one of the worst ways to die. We had no choice we had to find out if the dog was rabid so we set off again and told the taxi driver he had to get us through. The landslide had been partially levelled and we managed to bump across. We made it to the university hospital, the dog died on the way.

At the autopsy they confirmed he was rabid. We went to a restaurant and we discussed what we should do. We were very scared. We talked about the anti-rabies injections 14 daily through the stomach wall. There were known side effects, one of them was permanent blindness. We were into day six of the first bite and the minimum incubation period for rabies was ten days. We decided we would have the injections. We returned home and went to the doctors. Yes he could inject us but he only had serum for a few days. He didn’t have enough. We needed more and the nearest place was Shimla a 12 hour train trip away. Armed with a letter from the doctor (he would phone them too) I and a friend headed off.

The journey was relatively uneventful except we had to keep the small crate of serum cold. In the hot parts of our journey we bought ice to cool it.

We were going to have the injections as a group so no one had started, it was now day 9 of the first bite. From what I remember one was over ten but we didn’t talk about that. The injections were horrible. About an inch of fluid straight into the stomach wall. They left lumps of fluid that lasted days. So every day we all trooped down the mountain, got our shots and trooped back. Not fun and this would last for two weeks. This was 1976 in a remote part of India.

Well we all survived OK except me. On the 12th injection I collapsed and they took me up the mountain on a donkey. They called the doctor and he came up to the house to give me my 13th injection. You had to do the course. That night I nearly died. I developed a fever and my temperature went up to 107 and my friends were coming in to say goodbye to me. I had two angels looking after me Kitty Subho an English Thai monk and a wonderful lady who we thought had recently become enlightened. I remember the delirium well. It was a bit out of body, very spacey and voices shouted from a distance. I was going to die but I had no fear just an acceptance.

In the wee hours of the morning the fever broke and I woke up yellow. I had hepatitis again. Think my liver just couldn’t handle the serum. I was ill for about three weeks but what a beautiful spot to be ill in.

Four years ago during a routine hospital check-up the doctor told me they had found a little spot on my lung. After tests it was found to be cancerous. I researched lung cancer and my prognosis was not good. I prepared to die. It wasn’t so bad, I had led a very full life. I achieved an ethereal state of acceptance and said goodbye to the world. This state stayed with me. It became semi-permanent and was a bit difficult to get out of.

After further tests, going up to St James in Dublin they decided they would operate immediately. The consultant surgeon would contact me the next week. It ended up three months later and all this time the cancer was growing. But I stayed calm and did what had to be done. If the operation was successful I would still not get the all clear they were going to take out my left lung. So be it. I was admitted to St James and had the operation two days later. I can remember the prep room and getting an injection then waking up don’t know when in the post op ward. There was good news they only had to take out a lobe. I have a scar running down most of my back where they went in. My mood, that of acceptance, continued.

My oncologist in Tullamore said the cancer may have spread to my lymph and I needed chemo. So I wasn’t clear. Four months later they decide that that was it. Chemo was not fun. I was in remission. Got another year to go to be out of the woods. After 5 years you are considered cured.

Dying holds no fear for me. The mental state that of having done with the world, persisted for a year afterwards. I found it difficult to “come back” . I’m back now but have grown from my experiences. In this day and age longevity is not uncommon and I might look for another twenty years. Well we will see. Whatever the future holds for me I feel I am prepared for it.

I have a WordPress blog so I am immortal. Below is one of my favourite tunes: Gov’t Mule “ Soulshine. I think I let my soul shine and lived better for it.

Please comment and would love to hear your stories  I am sure you have them. A free Cream Tea voucher for the best comment.

Why not join the millions of others who blog, carve out your own niche on the Internet! You will have seen http:// before it stands for HyperTextTransfer Protocol, which tells the Internet you are going somewhere. So go to http://OlderCitizens.org and create a blog of your own.

Advertisements

The Rise of The Antihero

SOA-logoI was watching ” Sons of Anarchy”  and this line resounded in my head “Why don’t they [ATF – Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms] leave them [Sons of Anarchy] alone so they can just get on with their business of selling guns toghostrider drug lords”. Wow I thought that. The Sons of Anarchy are outlaws and criminals and murderers (though they only kill “baddies”) yet they had so gained my sympathy that I condoned what they did. I did not give out a whoop when they were caught in one of their nefarious schemes; I rather felt sympathy for them.  They murder and run guns, involved with drug running when it suits them all in the name of ” family”.  There attitude towards women is very primitive.I am a biker and have colours in Second Life. Our moral code is as follows: ” Ghost Riders 1% MC Sargent @ Arms
The  Ghost Riders are an 1% MC of brothers and sisters that always have each others back and always looking to have a good time. This MC is founded on the principles of brotherhood, sisterhood, loyalty and respect. This will be upheld at all times.  If you want to join IM me..read above first. (Our President is a woman) So I have some sympathy for bikers. We tend towards being outlaws. We put “family ” first even if it means going outside the law. However running guns to drug lords is outside our purview, lol.

“Sons of Anarchy” is  totally tribal and tribal wars are commonplace. Is it so appealing because we feel disenfranchised from the social welfare in its broadest sense ? We need to belong.  “Family” like in the Sopranos rules. There are many failures in today’s society and “outlaws” provide a solution. Below is an article from Psychology Today that sheds more light. Would you kill and steal and commit other crimes to protect your “family”? Do we yearn to belong to a group that will put our welfare above that of society’s as a whole? Unions used to provide a sense of identity and protection. They seem to have disappeared. We all need a greater family that will help us in times of need and protect us in times of trouble. Unfortunately it seems we can only do this vicariously through TV.

Rise of the Antihero

Why we find Breaking Bad and other antihero-centric TV series compelling

Published on September 29, 2013 by H. Eric Bender, M.D. in Broadcast Thought

Tony Soprano.  Don Draper.  Walter White.  And now: Ray Donovan.  These fictional bad boys have ushered in what some have called the new “golden age” of television.  They’re not villains – at least not entirely.  But they’re definitely not heroes, either.  Breaking the mold of traditional heroism and villainy, they instead embody the unique qualities of the antihero.So, what is an antihero and why are they so compelling?As the 20th century progressed, protagonists—reflecting the increasing complexity of modern life— became increasingly morally ambiguous; the Gilded Age gave us Jay Gatsby, the Great Depression spawned Tom Powers, and Vietnam gave birth to a spectrum of sociopaths, from Michael Corleone to Travis Bickle.  And their moral compasses rarely pointed to Boy Scout—instead of upholding the law and avenging injustice, these characters broke the law and sought revenge.Despite their antisocial behavior, these antiheroes somehow seemed in the right.  What once were characters considered to be societal outliers had now become the blueprint for fictional protagonists.  And so dawned the era of the antihero.But why are we drawn to antiheroes?

It might be because their moral complexity more closely mirrors our own. They’re flawed. They’re still developing, learning, growing.  And sometimes in the end, they trend toward heroism. We root for their redemption and wring our hands when they pay for their mistakes. They surprise us. They disappoint us. And they’re anything but predictable.

While the antiheroes’ incompatibility with societal rules lays the foundation for compelling drama, it’s their unlikely virtue in the face of relatable circumstances that emotionally connects us to them.  Consider the moments that we spent cheering for Tony Soprano.  Typically they involved his efforts to overcome his anxiety—a relatively common condition—and his attempts, at times unprecedented, to protect family, both nuclear and crime.

Similarly, Walter White garnered our sympathy when we initially learned of his cancer, lack of financial stability, and inordinate medical debt. The failures of our society are not unique to Walter White, but are a common, shared experience between the character and his audience.  He feels our pain as he, too, has been pushed too far by a broken health care system that threatens his family’s —let alone his own—survival.

We can possibly overlook Don Draper’s dalliances when we learn of his abusive, traumatic upbringing.  But we really can’t get angry at him when we listen to him explain how the Kodak Carousel will give each and every one of us a chance to smile and walk down memory lane with just the push of a button, recapturing both the simplicity of childhood and the promise of adulthood.

Ray Donovan is no different. He’s a man who has made it out of seedy South Boston to the glitz of Los Angeles. Sure, he does—and continues to do—some terrible things along the way, but we empathize with his struggles to communicate with his children. We understand the difficulty he has in allowing himself to be emotionally vulnerable to his spouse. We want him to remain a secure attachment figure for his traumatized brother and his cognitively impaired boss. And we want him to be strong and successful in the face of his own traumatic past.

Antiheroes liberate us. They reject societal constraints and expectations imposed upon us.  Antiheroes give our grievances a voice. They make us feel like something right is being done, even if it is legally wrong.  Antiheroes do things we’re afraid to do. They are who they are and they do as they want—without apology.

And for 60 minutes each week, we live vicariously through them.  Without apology.