Podzilla 1985

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

You Will Not Live Forever

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I AM Mr. 100, and it's going to take more than some high blood pressure and a possible heart attack to slow me down. I have lived through the deaths of my parents, exile from my family, and the most painful emotional breaks that have brought me to the edge of suicide.

I'm still standing here.



Impossible to knock down.

Don't let my bravado fool you. Sunday was one of the most frightening days of my life. I felt a pain unlike any I've ever experienced, and it echoed through my chest, back, jaw, and arms. It was so overwhelming that I could no longer convince myself that it was nothing, and I went to an Urgent Care office here in Cape Girardeau.

Until this point I was sure that it was just sore muscles. I haven't been able to lift much lately, but I'm a big guy, so it's probably just a nagging old injury. I had made the mistake of looking up the symptoms online, and anyone that has ever done the same will know the fear that follows. The internet is an awful place, filled with awful people, and very scary information when you're some simpleton trying to self diagnose. My hope was that Urgent Care could ease my mind and I could go home, rest, and get over this.

Instead, the doctor on staff did a great job convincing me that I was going to drop dead almost immediately.

She literally walked into the office with my blood pressure readings written on a scrap of old yellow paper, and pushed it in my face to prove a point that I'm a walking corpse. She told me how her brother was my age when he died of a heart attack, and he didn't even have any symptoms. Everything I described to her were classic signs of angina, and I needed to go to the ER immediately. I asked her questions, though they were jumbled messes created by a mind racing with the worst thoughts and vomited up through quivering lips. I don't know if she was being honest or just trying to scare me enough to go to the ER (talk of lawyers and liability were thrown around), but she succeeded in making me feel like my life was now over.

As soon as the doctor left to let the hospital know I was on the way, I broke down in tears and Ally consoled me as best she could. I cried when they told me my mother would never wake up or get better. I cried when hospice told me that my father had "expired." I cried the day I shattered my best friend's heart into a million pieces. I had never cried for myself before.

I arrived at the ER with Ally around ten minutes later, thanks in part to one of those stop lights that never seems to turn green for you. I could see the frustration on her face as she was trying to get me to ER as soon as possible, just in case my heart was giving out and every second counted.

I had just gotten off the phone with Lindsey. I fought through the tears to tell her that I was going to the ER because they thought it could be my heart. I could hear the shakiness in her voice as she tried to be positive for me, but we were both floored. She and I have been through everything together and shared a lot of awful experiences. Neither of us were prepared for the prospect that I could be dying.

St. Francis rushed me to the back and within a few minutes I was shirtless and strapped to a couple of different machines. They did an EKG on me, as well as taking x-rays, blood work, and a urine sample. They put an IV in me, but unfortunately for me they had to do it twice. Either I didn't have enough blood or they just misjudged where they stuck me the first time. I told the nurse, who was both lovely and very nice, that if it's the worst thing that happened to me that night I would be happy.

That's right. Even possibly dying I still try to be polite and charming. I was a big hit in the ER.

Asa arrived not long after I got there, and we had to convince quite a few other people not to make the trip. I didn't want to bother them. We watched the end of the Super Bowl while we were waiting for the doctor to come talk to me, and I can honestly say it was the first time I had watched the Super Bowl since I was a teenager.

And what a game!

The doctor told me that my EKG, blood work, x-rays, and urine sample all came out fine. Whatever pain I was in was not caused by my heart. My blood pressure was dangerously high, but he told me that I shouldn't be concerned right now as long as I get it under control. Everything seemed to be fine, but the fear of possibly hearing about how I was going to die was still there.

It's still here.

I'm only 35 years old. The doctor referred to my young age when he spoke to me, and I thanked him for his kindness. I've never felt like I was too old to consider myself old, but I also know that the term "young" is in the rear view mirror at this point.

My age didn't matter to me in the moment. For the past few hours I had convinced myself that I was going to die, and whether I was 35, 25 or 55 didn't matter to me. All that I could think about was the fact that I was going to die, whether it was my heart now or something else down the line.

Death is guaranteed.

I'm afraid of dying. Part of why I explore the paranormal so much is because I'm looking for answers to what happens when you leave this mortal coil. The possibility, or probability some would say, that there is nothing beyond this existence is the most terrifying thing that you could ever consider.

And now, for the first time in my life, I had to face my own mortality in a way that was more serious than just "well, I'm getting older."

I would tell myself that just getting older doesn't mean your life is over. If you take care of yourself you could be handsome and useful for another 25 to 30 years before you're really considered over the hill. I would look at celebrities like Johnny Depp and Sofia Vergara and think about how they're much older than me but still gorgeous. I could still be something special, even when I'm 55. My literal fear is that I would be ugly and old in my 50's, but if I worked hard I could stop that.

Now, I'm not even sure I'll see 55. If things continue the way they are I could, and probably will, die by the time I'm 50. That gives me 15 years to do something.

What is that something? I don't know. I have the worst brain in existence. Even if I fix my blood pressure, even if I live to be 80, I'll still get old, and I will still die. There is no escaping that which will come for us all.

I look back at my life and can point to a lot of things that I'm proud of. I can't say that I've wasted my time on this Earth. I've met great people and have accomplished quite a few things. I even started a no name little podcast that has become a legitimate thing and has afforded me and the people I care about quite a few opportunities. I've fallen in love, probably more times than I should have, and kissed the prettiest girls in the world. I've seen some great movies, played some great video games, and eaten some fantastic pizza.

Even with a life that I can honestly say was pretty cool, I feel empty. I feel afraid. I want more. I cannot be satisfied that this is my existence, especially if it ended sometime soon. There are too many places to go, too many people to meet, and too many experiences to live to just die now.

I'm the best person to give advice, because even though I've made some of the absolute worst decisions in life I can coach others on how to avoid the same mistakes I made. If I have fooled you with that, then I offer to you this advice - enjoy life. It's far too short to sit around waiting for something to happen. Make it happen. Fall in love. Lose weight. Take chances, because you'll only regret the chances you didn't take. If you're sitting around just coasting through life then you're not doing it right. And, God forbid, someday you might be 35 and told that you could die in the next few days and you're going to look back at your life and wonder what the hell you were thinking.

I know it sounds like a cliche, but that's because everything they always told you was right. Seize the day and try to do something remarkable. No person should ever be satisfied with the mark they've left on this life.

And then it comes back to me, the unlucky ones who will never truly be satisfied with existence and will always just fear what comes after it. Sometimes I wonder why I even care if I live or die if the only thing that waits for me is nothing.

I'll keep searching for that reason. Until then I'm going to enjoy the movies, the games, the pizzas, the kisses, the friends, and everything else that I was afraid of never having again when they told me my ticker could be taking its last tock. And I'll continue searching for what could lie beyond this world. I'll hold on to the hope that I'll see my mother and father again, or at the very least, that they're somewhere in this world again. And even if I never see them again, they exist, and maybe this shot at life will be better than the last one.

I want to believe. I want to live, not just be alive.

I hope this inspires you to want to do the same.
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