A crazy pendulum for me during the past two weeks, as I'll explain below.
Syncoping About, Edition 105 features:
-A rough start to 40 (spoiler: I'm fine)
-Would you do it tomorrow?
-Whoa, the photos people take
Out for a birthday bike ride before all the drama!
If this is 40, I want a refund
My first trip to the ER, I was a freshman in college. My appendix blew up, but modern medicine won. The following two decades were smooth sailing.
My on-ramp for my 4th decade was a fabulous long weekend full of friends, tasty food, and outside time. A perfect start.
Then last Friday I woke up nauseous, passed out at the bathroom sink and smashed my neck on the shower threshold's metal door track. Chelsea found me splayed out on the floor totally unresponsive. A terrifying sight.
To the hospital we zoomed. I passed out again on the way there. WTF?! She broke a few traffic laws and wheeled me riiight into the ER.
Five hours of brain, neck, heart and blood tests later found…(drumroll) nothing but an elevated white blood cell count. Picture of health, minus almost breaking my neck.
The ER doc’s best guess was a strong vagal nerve reaction to an undetected virus (a covid test was negative).
The consensus is that I’m going to be fine, though I’m wearing a heart rate monitor this week and doing follow up tests. I'd love to hear your experience if this has ever happened to you!
Don't get old, kids.
I share this experience not for shock value, but because it’s kicked off so many thoughts. I keep returning to the fickle nature of life, how quickly good fortune can pivot.
I'm also interested how detached from the potential severity of things I was. “Well, if it’s a brain tumor, we’ll cross that bridge. If my heart valve is weak, I can get an ebike or play piano. If my neck is f’d, I can still read or play chess.” I didn’t expect that.
They say happiness usually returns to previous levels after an injury. My mental space accepting things seems in line with that. Easy to say without actually getting bad news.
On my 40th birthday, I deeply felt how valuable close relationships are. This episode hammered that home again---friends dropped off food, picked up groceries, offered medical insight or their personal experience, or just checked on me daily. I felt surrounded by love and support.
Chelsea is a self-proclaimed barnacle after my fall, keeping me close. Thinking your husband is dead will do that to you! I sure appreciate our wonderful life together.
I’m intrigued to see what else surfaces for me as I continue processing the experience. I didn’t glimpse the proverbial white light at the end of the tunnel, but who knows how close I was to it. A couple inches in a different direction with my fall could have changed everything.
Overall, I’m thankful to have modern medicine (plus the means to pay for it), supportive family, friends and partner, and the luck to walk away from this with nothing more than a very stiff neck.
If this is 40, I can't WAIT for 70!
Would I do it tomorrow?
I’ve always loathed the phrase “live like it’s your last day.” Blergh, too eat-all-the-cake mentality for me.
However, my ER visit reminds me of this Austin Kleon post, “Would I do it tomorrow?” A useful framework for deciding whether to say yes to something.
From the post:
That’s it—those five words. Not: Would I do it on some theoretical day in the future? This is the crucial question: Would I upend whatever I am doing tomorrow so that I can go there and do that?
Are they paying you enough to skip your daughter’s soccer game tomorrow? Is the panel interesting enough that you don’t mind asking your colleague to cover for you, tomorrow? Is the conference important enough to your career that you would blow off your college roommate’s visit, which is tomorrow. When you get the invitation, pay no attention at all to its far-flung date: Move it mentally to tomorrow.
Tomorrow makes decisions simple…
My tomorrow's will (hopefully) continue to involve bike rides with friends in places like this!
Animals know how to live
One thing I’ve noticed this week: I’m feeling quite content. I’ve barely strayed out of our neighborhood since Friday, and it feels totally fine. I'm like our cat Oliver, who is purring in the sun next to me.
I won’t lie and say the colors are more saturated or some other cheesy shit. I’m just letting my jacked up neck heal and watching nature’s display around us as summer launches full-fledged into July.
Our backyard redtail hawk babies are aloft, a pair of finches is cheerfully nesting in our courtyard, and our neighborhood deer are flourishing. Life is good.
Photo by Hungarian photographer Bence Mate. I'm worried about the spider...
That's enough medical talk. Stick an IV needle errr fork in Episode 105 of Traipsing About. Catch ya in two weeks!
Today's parting question is one I recently asked friends during an evening walk and keep coming back to:
In hindsight, what are some of the best decisions you've ever made?
Unsolicited advice: Make more decisions like those so your future self will thank you for them!
P.S. After my buddy Eric traveled to Bend to surprise me on my birthday, I revisited his Broadway-singer wife's albumSiren Songs, which is beautiful. I dig her version ofJolene andChelsea Morning.
Because I sleep warm, people. Get your mind out of the gutter.