Today is the three year anniversary of the big dual-airbag upgrade (double lung transplant). Turns out, not all luxury models (or so I’d like to think) come stocked with standard functional disaster protection. Like many anniversaries, this one is somewhat bittersweet. I’m glad I am still alive… for today at least. I’ll keep you posted for tomorrow. A few weeks ago my outlook on survival was not so simple. It was mid-March, and as usual (post-transplant), I was weak and possibly dying. I was very sick. “Sick” sounds like such a weak and insignificant word sometimes. I was running another rapidly increasing fever. “We’re taking you to the hospital now, Adam,” my mother declared. A familiar and far too commonly heard mantra in our house these days. Chances were that my pneumonia had flared up again or that my body was once again trying to fight with these foreign produced upgrades.
“I’m not going back to the ICU. I’ve been there five times already this year!” I answered. I could see in my mother’s eyes that I was once again about to lose an argument regarding my health. My current body temperature was at 101.8 degrees fahrenheit. “Fine,” I said, “Look, if my fever hits 103 then, yes, of course we’ll go (to the hospital). Fair?”
My mother begrudginly nodded her head, unaware that I had no intention of actually honoring this agreement by making yet another trip to what would once again inevitably land me in the Intensive Care Unit at the Kaiser Komfort Inn. I had just been discharged from such unit, six days prior to this evening.
Nancy (my mom) took the grandparents to get some dinner as I stayed home monitoring and desperately trying to reduce a quickly climbing number on my thermometer. The inevitable had arrived. After about the twentieth “Beep, beep, beep” of the night the dreaded result read “103.2.” I knew the second my family returned home, I would be rushed to the nearest Emergency Room. I have seen dozens and dozens of Emergency Rooms in my life. I couldn’t stomach the idea of spending another week (at least) in some sterile cell of isolation. The IV’s that constantly pierce into my wrists often feel like handcuffs. They love leaving they’re marks (purple and blue preferably).
My ability to barely survive at a crawling pace had gradually taken me to a darker and darker place… one hospital admission at a time. I’m not going to try and sing you my sad story about how horrible the past few years have been. The violin is currently missing some strings. I’ll just jump to the punchline.
I was bored, I was tired and I was fed up with the endless hospital catch-and-release game that seemed unending. I just wanted to go to sleep… at home… in my bed… INDEFINITELY.
I couldn’t stand the idea of another visit to healthcare hell. I had reached a point of complete indifference. Indifference of life, love… everything. For the first time, I was ready to actively carry out what I had pre-meditated so many times in the past. As soon as I had the house to myself I ran upstairs to my mom’s room. She holds onto all of my narcotic medications (for obvious reasons). I grabbed as many pain killers and sleeping pills that I could fit in the red, flushed and burning palm of my hand. Without a second thought I ran back downstairs to my room and swallowed the fist-full of suicide. I chugged it down with my left over Coca-Cola by the bed. Why not enjoy one last luxury, right? I sat in my bed watching a movie as I allowed myself to slowly fade away as the warmth of intoxicated death embraced my body. The boxing Jake Gyllenhaal slowly became a fuzzy figure on my television screen. Before I knew it, he was gone.
As soon as my mom got home, she saw me stoned, mouth-agaped, heavily asleep and barely breathing through the window. Having watched the slow emotional deconstruction of my self over the past few months, my mom knew exactly what I had done.”A sinking feeling immediately wrenched at my stomach. I tore through that house faster than I ever have,” she would tell me later. Unable to wake me up, my family immediately dialed 911. All I remember of the paramedics was them slapping my face over and over telling me to stay awake. In a very bothered and defeated voice I snapped back with a rude, “Why the hell should I? I’m tired!” That is all I remember.
After that, I woke up (inevitably) in the Riverside Kaiser ICU around 4 am. Man, then I was really pissed! Not only did I not die, but I was back in the ICU which was the last place I wanted to be. I guess you can’t always escape destiny. Death no longer scares me. In fact it often feels like a shadow hanging over me. I’m not sure if it was the depression or the inability to handle another day of lingering mortality that caused me to swallow those pills. I’m sure a part of me just wanted to get it over with already. What I failed to do, was reveal my suicidal thoughts to a loved one. It’s just like an addict to go off and act on his own accord… alone. Looking back, there’s no one reason why I wanted to die, but I know there must be a reason why I’m still here.
Ok, well then, let’s just pretend that’s true. I shamelessly came clean with all of those closest to me. They had watched everything I’ve been through and had very little problem understanding why I did what I did. I realized that I had to make a lot of calls to make sure all of those I loved, knew what happened. It reminded me that I have a lot of love in my life. No, I’m not saying that is enough fulfillment to keep me from attempting suicide again tomorow, but luckily, it’s enough for today. Here’s to three more years of life…