As I lay in bed on the morning of the 2/24/16, I had made it through the night and could not have imagined making it to the 4PM deadline, when Dr. Forrest had planned to continue with the angioplasty. On the day before, I watched as the secondary arteries had disappeared upon the passing of the “snow plow” over their driveways and I became sweaty, or at least I think it was then, and I asked that the procedure be stopped as I couldn’t take it anymore to which Dr. Forrest complied.
The ultrasound showed that part of my heart was not getting enough oxygen and pumping half-heartedly, pardon the pun. I felt it, although the sensation was akin to my chronic stomach aches due to diverticulitis, the fact that I was hungry, that the first two meals contained wheat or that I had not slept, prodded by the nurses wanting to take my blood pressure or to take blood especially after the first procedure, when they needed to know when my faint heart’s chemical cries had reached a plateau.
It was at a point in the morning having made it through the practical prodding and displacement of various soft glue attachments and arm wraps, the blood taking, the lack of sleep, hunger, constipation, gas, sensing that I smelled of the sweet vinegar of death.
I was so tired and in pain that when I saw S-, I started to cry. I hid my face under the sheet and blanket, knowing it was obvious, but there was nowhere I could hide. It was then that I sensed that she had rescued me. I asked her with my eyes to come close to me. I felt as a lover might that if there was some spiritual tie that I wished she could feel it and acknowledge me. She did, I think, and brought her clean, perfect face to my stench and weakness and my sister said that she kissed me. She allowed the sacrifice. I was already warned of her child and husband, but I was selfish. I stole that kiss. Why would any employee be willing to make that sacrifice? She saved my life.
As a man, we do not know pain, except as endurable or unendurable and the unendurable comes over time and it often surprises us and yet it is quiet and we accept it. We do not fight death that is meant for us and we do not complain, except to ask questions, in my case: “Was this the point of life? Have I achieved my purpose?” I didn’t think so. I lay there with the understanding that I had done everything I could imagine doing. There are no degrees of pain, scales 1-10, smiley to frightened faces. How do you measure such a blunt sensation? It has no personality. If you are able to make it through, that’s enough and if you are making it through, it has no subtleties.