If I’m not feeling well, and very often these days I’m not, I tend to say so in terms that some might consider alarming. (Example.)
I don’t think, though, I’ve ever boiled it down to three little words:
There are certain phrases that evoke strong feelings in me when I hear them.
“I’m gonna die” happens to be on that short list. Patients scare the hell out of me when they say they’re going to die and give me that look.
Car accident victims. Patients having heart attacks. One guy who was vomiting and ended up having a massive GI bleed.
All of them gave me the look of death and said “I’m gonna die.”
They were all right. In my experience, more often than not, people who say those words end up being right. One minute they’re looking at you and talking, the next minute, they’re going toward the light.
It’s eerie. Almost seems like people get some sixth sense about when their time is up.
The flip side of this premise, it seems to me, is that for the most part, people can tell when their time isn’t up. From my end-of-2006 post:
I remember getting out of the remains of my car, shrugging, and hopping onto the cell phone; at no point that day did it occur to me that had one or two variables gone a couple of percentage points in another direction, I’d have been just as dead as that doe two lanes over.
One of the good ol’ boys who stopped to offer a helping hand that day told me this: “If it’s not your time, it doesn’t matter what you do. And if it is your time, it doesn’t matter what you do.”
I worry sometimes that I’ve worried myself into hypochondria, or something worse. Right now I’m wrestling with the notion that maybe I’ve taken too damned many pain pills, so I’m backing off on the dosage — and as payback, I’m getting, you guessed it, more pain. Trouble is, the miserable little tabs are actually helping me snooze: last week’s sleep deficit, which had been running in the 20-30 hour range, was a mere eight. All of these, generally, are combination drugs, some opioid cut with acetaminophen; I’m hoping I can take up the slack with straight Tylenol.
Still, I can’t shake the occasional feeling of Impending Doom. And the fact that those feelings won’t go away entirely makes me feel worse.