“Thwack!” goes my head, pummeling the van door.

“Thwack!” goes my head, pummeling the van door.

See bright spots of light. Can’t balance no more.

Closed out my phone call, “I love you. Uh, bye.”

Stumbled to my knees, my head hanging high.

 

Called my chum Em’ly, the reason I’m here

Coordinated as if drunk on beer.

“I’ll call you in ten,” she said and hung up,

so I wondered whether I was wrung up. 

 

Am I concussed? I had seen stars. And my

neck mashed. From whacking it hard and uh, high.

Big ol’ thwackin’! A painful a-whackin’!

I pray the world fades not to, uh, black, and

 

but if it does, at least I’d’ve learned… Not

much of anything. An accident turned

me into a grave. A silly way to

die. In future, I’ll be A-More-Aware-of-Surroundings Guy.

 

I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.

I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.

On Monday I underwent sleep apnea surgery. I wasn’t afraid. I trusted my surgeon.

I had my first post-op visit today. I’m healing a half-week ahead of schedule. My surgeon removed most of the rubber bands holding my jaw closed. He said my muscles were still too weak to hold my jaw in place. He showed me how to replace bands that snapped.

Two hours later, I moved a band to make my right and left sides symmetrical. My maxilla, lower lip, and parts of my chin went numb. I had recently regained feeling in these parts, having lost it after surgery. Losing it again concerned me. My speech deteriorated. I sweat in fear.

I sent a message to my surgeon. Those can take days to return. I called his office. They close at 5. I called a doctor I knew. She said permanent nerve damage can’t be done overnight.

I believe her. I still feel panicked. Each sensation in the chin prompts terror. Sure, they remind me I have sensation there, but they also feel like a stretched nerve. Worse, I still feel pain from the surgery and can’t separate the normal surgery pain from any pain I might have caused. My mind spins:

  • Will a stretched nerve always regain sensation over time, just as happened in the days post-surgery?
  • If properly-placed bands are holding my teeth in the right position, will I definitely be all right?
  • How much leeway do I have in the band placement? (I.e. I am pulling my jaw forward slightly more than when I left the doctor’s office. Is that safe?)
  • Did I cause myself permanent nerve damage?

I’ve never dealt with questions like this before. They terrify me.

If I die Monday, may my tombstone read,“Died doing what he loves.”

On Monday I go in for Jaw Surgery. If I die, I want my tombstone to read, “Died doing what he loves.[1]

I’ve never seen a footnote on a tombstone. Nor ellipses. I’m updating the medium. The joke makes it more palatable.

I joke because I’m afraid. I’m afraid because it’s frightening. I’ve never been closer to death than I will be on Monday.

I’ve always mused on death. I wrote my first auto-obituary at 13. The same way some people use the largesse of space to decrease their anxiety; I use death to accept depression. When I wake up late enough that I feel grumpy, the phrase “death and taxes” echoes in my mind. It reminds me of two crucial elements – timeliness and humor. One makes today matter and the other makes life worth living.

I’m spending tomorrow and Sunday advising a local high school youth group, and Saturday with my dad. If I die, let it be known I went out doing what I loved.

 

[1] Self improvement.

Okay, cocaine.

One, Two Pizzas

Why did you buy two pizza pies?

You’re only one man, and you have thighs

That will grow fatter

If you eat all that batter.


“They were deep dish,

Which makes me its bitch

When combined with the heaven

Of ‘second pie costs $7.'”


Well, that explains

Your stretched-tummy pains.

Now go and count sheep

You should be asleep.


“I would be! I would!

But it’s hard to be good.

After crunching all week,

I feel so… uh, weak.”


That I can see!

It’s going to be

A much-needed weekend

Spent with a friend.

Then I guess you won’t be pulling the plug? 

As my sister drives to Reno, I explain to her and my mother that I don’t want to be resuscitated. Nor ventilated. Nor any other life-preserving “–ated” with a low forecasted-quality-of-life.

They reject my request, which Mom communicates by saying, “I didn’t hear you…” as though pretending not to hear it will avoid it happening. I hadn’t expected that response.

Why would I rather have my plug pulled?

  1. Low quality of life for those in such a state?
  2. Comfort with the idea of death?
  3. Existence as a societal detriment?

The first and second seem unlikely: In most cases, humans adjust to our circumstances, and comfort with the idea still doesn’t make it desirable. The third seems reasonable, but assumes a low likelihood on me becoming a high-positive force again.

Perhaps the gruesome images of end-of-life patients that I saw earlier today impacted me. Perhaps in a soberer state, I’d rather live as long as possible in case medical science improves sufficiently to salvage me. If I prioritize my life, this seems the most reasonable conclusion.

In any case, my sister feels uncomfortable talking about these plans, but they’re valuable plans to have.

I was trying to prioritize them. I’ve heard tell of family members being in difficult situations because they didn’t know the patient’s wishes. A large part of this explanation was to spare them that difficulty, but they’d apparently rather have that situation than this conversation. And I don’t actually care enough to press the issue or put a legal solution in place. In case it ever comes up, whatever they choose is fine by me.

We did, however, agree on one thing: after we’re dead, dispose of us in the cheapest way possible. Now, I’d also like to add: dispose of me in a funny way. I’d like to go out doing what I love.

Touch more: a manifesto

Starting at puberty, it becomes socially unacceptable to exchange touch with anyone but romantic partners. This is bad. Touch is calming. It’s connecting. It’s fundamental to proper growth and development. Touch should happen more. 

On a road trip with a friend, I hadn’t touched another person in a week. That’s a long fucking time. A week without touch is a cruel punishment that I wouldn’t subject on any animal. It’s not even a sexual thing – I just wanted physical contact. I asked if I could lie on my buddy’s lap. He said sure, so I did. Our conversation continued. I felt human. It was great.

Why does our society suppress touch? I understand the moratorium across gender and the requirements that touch be consensual. But why is it weird (or labeled “gay”) for guys hanging out to touch each other? We’re primates. Primates touch. Even gorillas – the biggest and strongest among us – pick nits out of each other’s fur.

I’m not sure why, but I don’t like it. I also can’t see a good reason against it, so I’m going to touch more.