Last Tuesday, at about 1:30, I began to experience excruciating pain in my lower left side. At first I tried to call Barbara, but the signal on my cell phone was too weak to make the call from the room I was in. By the time I got to the room with the land line I’d decided to call 911.
The dispatcher volunteered to call Barbara as soon as the paramedics were on site. By the time they got here, the pain had subsided and I managed to help them get me into the gurney. The pain seemed to be coming in waves, and I was virtually painless all the way to the E.R. It arose again just as I entered the E.R., and I began to vomit.
Barbara met me there, although they separated us for about forty-five minutes while I awaited a Doctor.
I lay by myself for virtually the entire time after they put a robe on me, cleaned me up some, and got two admission papers semi-signed by me (I couldn’t have i.d.ed the signatures).
I don’t recall having had such pain except possibly once before when I passed another stone years earlier in England. This was rather different, though, and was more localized in what seemed like a specific part of my intestines. I thought of a bowel blockage, like the one that killed my friend, Pann. Because of an allergic reaction I had as a youth from a codeine based nasal spray, they weren’t able to give me pain medication for virtually the entire time while they confirmed with a pharmacist that it was relatively safe to do so.
I attempted to relieve the pain by Trumpeting, a form of meditation I discovered 28 years earlier. It’s quite loud, and I suspect I’d have been left alone for quite a bit longer if there hadn’t have been a weird sound permeating the entire emergency area from my room.
The whole experience put me back into considering the phenomenon of seizing up.
There was no way, during the ordeal, that I was going to deal with anything but the pain. One moment I was going about my business just like it was any old day. The next I was dealing with the pain, and nothing else. That’s how it will be for each of us–even those who die quickly–I expect. Death will, almost certainly, surprise us in very stark ways.
Oh, I guess it may be possible to die without pain, but it’s hard to imagine. At the
least, though, one must be aware of his/her own passing. That that doesn’t get your full attention, visibly asleep or not, I don’t question.
There seems to be, however, inherent in the assumption that a transition exists, or that you are apt to notice, a belief in something beyond the soul lying there in the background somewhere.
Anyway, once the pain starts, it’s too late to get anything more done. And there is very likely to be no advanced warning. Unless, of course, you see this as a warning.
I’m just saying . .