Sunday, May 29, 2011

Carry on Camping

Once again the end of the world didn’t happen. Well, it was the end for a few people these past three weeks. Good ole Bin Laden, allegedly sent to a watery grave, Obama the expert orator, blowing it in front of the Queen of England. Not forgetting the other kind of blowing going on over in an upscale Manhattan hotel with ex-IMF Chief DSK.

It’s been ‘sayonara baby’ all the way from the Sea of Japan to Joplin, Missouri. Iceland’s Grimsvotn Volcano just added some extra trepidation for those who were disappointed the Rapture didn’t take off as… scheduled.

I’ve taken some time away from the blogging universe due to my unexpected brush with death. That’s right, I almost died. At least I thought I was going to die, for about 48 hours. My entire body went into shock, unable to eat or sleep, or stop physically shaking, even after all manner of injections and treatments.

The doctor’s couldn’t find out what exactly was happening to me. Thank God I seemed to recover miraculously within a week. I still have pain in my upper arm, and occasional numbness in the soles of my feet, I’m 90% recovered.

Stress can bring on a lot of things people tell me, and I guess that stress played a part in this. But I can’t help wondering if my lower back injury, brachial nerve problem, and bad acupuncture, had something to do with it! I was seen by four (highly qualified and expensive) independent doctors, and they all said that they couldn’t say what was wrong with me!

While I paced from one end of the room to the other at 4.00am, trying to stop myself from actually collapsing to the floor, it occurred to me that if I died that night, I would not be a very nice sight. So I decided to fix my hair, put on some clean underwear and decent dress, brush my teeth, and apply some make-up, just in case the emergency room doctor was cute. Up to now, I had been quite unlucky in this respect.

Well, if you’re gonna go, you ought to do it with a measure of style. As I stood in the middle of the living room at 5.00am, still pacing up and down in my heels, I prayed to God and asked him to forgive my sins and to help me – if I was going to die please, make it quick! But as it turned out, the end didn’t come for me yet.

Three days later, after another visit to a new doctor, I walked along a street in the ‘old town’ and came across a man giving out pamphlets. He was standing next to a sign that read, ‘If you died tomorrow, where would you go?’…

I laughed out loud, more out of fear than anything else. I thought of this as a good sign. I continued laughing, but it was at the pure irony of it all.

Back home I tried to capitalise on my experience (what?) I thought that for such an event to have occurred to me, a person that is always proclaiming that they are not afraid to die, must surely have some kind of meaning, a message perhaps, that I should be heeding.

I searched on my desk for some paper to write on and noticed that some books had been disturbed on my shelf. Two books I started to read but never finished. The back cover of Gods of the Dawn, by Peter Lemesurier has, ‘Truth is often stranger than fiction’. The other was a sci-fi novel by Iain M. Banks, called Against a Dark Background. Irony was fully in overdrive.

Now I’m laughing at myself over the situation, but at the time it was anything but funny. Real fear is not a fun feeling. The folks on that Youtube video of the Joplin tornado can testify to that.

Waiting to die, or rather thinking that you are about to die, can be a life-altering event. The Libyan people are wondering what is going to happen to them. The Syrian’s are wondering too, the Japanese, and countless others around the world suffering through war, natural and not so natural catastrophe, or illness. I am still trying to figure out exactly how fear has altered me.

If I died tomorrow, where would I go?