Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.

Death and Dying and Really Good Drugs / January 26, 2007

I’ve been thinking the last few days about hospitals and doctors and mortality and all that.
It kind of freaked me out, and surprised me when I realized last night that in my core family of 4 people, 3 of us had unrelated life-threatening conditions in the last six months. My father was in the hospital for continuing health problems, largely based around his lungs. My mother had several embolisms following a surgery. And around the same time, I also had a pulmonary embolism, though — as far as I know — with much less severe results than my mother. (They actually told her that she nearly died, whereas all they gave me was a syringe full of the good stuff and a bottle to pee in.) So I went to sleep last night thinking that my sister must hate us all, for trying to leave her here by herself. That could have been a seriously bad year for her.
It’s not a particularly bad sign for my family’s genetics or anything. My father has abused his body for decades before it truly started to give out. And my mother’s embolisms were a common side-effect of unrelated surgery. And me… they never did tell if they figured out what caused my problem.
But again, nothing to obsess about. We all came through, leaving us pretty much back where we started. Everybody over the age of 20 worries about losing their parents. But as for myself, I still can’t help but think I’m immortal. I just can’t imagine myself having a drop-dead condition… ever.
*knock on wood*
But this is probably what led me to thinking about doctors and hospitals, while I was showering this morning. And I realized what a truly bad track record I have at GWU Hospital. When I went in with a broken ankle, they were positive I had broken it before, and that all they were seeing on the x-ray was the previous fracture. (I hadn’t, and they weren’t). When i last had fluid in my lungs, they were at first sure the chest pains must have been indigestion. They even gave me that green antacid stuff. Until they finally did the CT scan and found the fluid. And this last time, they were getting mad at me for being in too much pain to lie down for the CT scan. Hello! I had a condition so severe apparently that you wouldn’t even let me stand up to pee! Severe pain under reproducible circumstances… I know you learned about this somewhere! And the second trip to the hospital recently was completely useless except to confirm that no, I didn’t have internal bleeding, and that yes, I realllllllly appreciate Percocet. Everyone was worried I would become addicted to the stuff and abuse it. Never even came close. But lord, was it a god-send when I needed to get anything done.
My complete lack of strong reaction or appreciation for drugs recently kind of makes me wonder about alcohol. Certainly one of the big reasons I never had a drink was because more than one person in my family had an overly-strong appreciation for it. But with the non-reaction to the drugs, I wonder whether I would have any particular reaction to the alcohol. But of course, what still keeps me from drinking isn’t the fear of alcoholism, so much as the momentum. I’m willing to drink, but under what conditions will you allow yourself to have that first drink? Who do you trust yourself around? And where? And when?
I do think to much. Did I mention that?

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2 thoughts on “Death and Dying and Really Good Drugs

  1. don’t they have a standing CT scan? or is it not developed yet?
    maybe they should also develop a scanner that looks like those hand held metal detector at the airport, in case someone can’t even stand/lay straight due to pain.
    The GWU sounds like a hospital in 3rd world country! They never really get their first diagnose right. TERIBBLE!

  2. There are such things as standing CT scans, I believe. But GW Hospital doesn’t have one. Easier to move a person laying down than it is to move a standing person or the entire scanner.
    I don’t think GW is worse than anywhere else. And they’re certainly better than public health centers. But most places are understaffed, and even when they have staff, you seldom have one person who is really watching over you. They just pass you from doctor to doctor to nurse…

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