Death by the Door

I guess we all live in a bubble to an extent.  It protects us from stress and sometimes from the harsh realities of the world.  Hypertension, aneurysms, stroke, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, arteriosclerosis, cancer, COPD…I hear these words everyday in my classes.  I find learning about these conditions, how exercise can improve or prevent such illnesses, and how to treat these conditions interesting.  

Last year in my Clinical Sports Medicine class, my group did a presentation on Marfan Syndrome and aortic dissections and aneurysms.  Our project was to research and weigh evidence-based medicine and see when it was a good time to get surgery compared to alternative and less invasive interventions.  I learned a lot about this topic, I thought it was rare, that it could never happen to anyone I know.  

Today, that bubble I lived in bursted.

Today I learned that my friend’s dad had an aortic dissection which tore (the aorta is the biggest artery in your body, it is the artery that first channels blood from your heart to the rest of your body) last night when he was working.  Luckily his co-workers noticed that something was seriously amiss and called the paramedics who took care of him till they got to the hospital where he underwent a long and serious surgery.  I was appalled and shocked.  I know it’s a very serious condition, and from what I know of it, only 1/5 of the people suffering such a tear from such a major artery makes it to the hospital alive.  I just couldn’t put it through my head what had happened.  That it did happen.  That it happened to someone who took me and my friend, bird watching, go-carting and helped us with projects when we were kids.  These conditions and illnesses have always been in another world, in textbooks, in case studies, in faces of people I don’t know.  Yet time and again I’ve been proven wrong.  

Recently I’ve had people I know be diagnosed with cancer, stroke, TB, pulmonary edema, renal failure.  Every time it seems to strike closer and closer to home.  Who will be next?  Will it be someone I love?  Will it be me?  It is as if we all have this ticking time bomb inside of us that will go off at any moment.  You can’t tell when it will happen, when it’ll strike next.  A person may look healthy, they may be young, yet the next second, they may be gone.

Today was a reminder to treasure the people you love everyday, to let go of the resentments and anger, to tell them what they mean to you, because you just never know when death will come knocking.  

As many patients have shared with me:

“No matter how long you’ve lived, be it 1 month, 6 years, or 90 years, it’s always the same:  Life is too short”.


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