Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Near Death Experience

Speaking of Interstate 5.

Several years ago a newly-hired anesthesiologist at my clinic and his whole family were wiped out by a car that crossed the median of I-5 and crashed head on into them. Roland, his wife, and two young kids, gone. (He was very religious; they named a chapel at the hospital after him. That god! What a way to get another place to glorify himself.) The last case he did was one of mine, a big-deal case, esophagectomy, requiring lots of skill on both sides of what's still called, by some, anyway, the "ether screen." At the end of the operation I'd told him what a great job he'd done. I was glad of that, at least.

Yesterday, coming home from Oregon, as Roland had been, the same thing almost happened to Judy and me. Had it not been for a Jersey barrier, I'd not be writing this.

Traveling around sixty in the left lane, going through Tacoma, I had my eyes ahead. I didn't see what caused it, but suddenly a car heading south crossed a couple of lanes and hit the barrier at high speed and at right angles, its trajectory right at us. Pieces of the car hit mine, and my thought was that I'd just seen someone die. (Amazingly, according to the paper today, there were no major injuries. Surprising: it looked horrible. And reassuring: it was a Miata, the same car Judy drives.) It was only a minute later that I realized it would have been us, too, absent the concrete.

Life is fragile, death can be random, the human body is flimsy as a wet paper sack. There's no sense to any of it, other than, as they say, to live like it could end in a heartbeat, although I'm not sure what that really means or how a person can do it. Quit work? Buy a VW bus, stop shaving, live by the beach? Or just wear clean underwear and don't let your bladder get too full.


Frank Drackman said...

60 mph?
in the left lane?
Heck fire, I drive 90, in the Right lane, and still get flipped off by 16 yr old girls...
"Ether Screen"?
Jeez Sid, they haven't used Ether since Crawford Long invented it, 160 years ago, in, ummm what was that city again???
We call it "The Blood-Brain Barrier" in Dixie...

Now speed up or move over...


Sid Schwab said...

I was going 60 because that's what the traffic was doing, and all the lanes were full. But up here, troopers don't let you off if you're white.

Thanks for the info about ether. So when you guys doze off reading stock reports or texting up there, it's not from ether, eh? I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

On a 12 hour skull base Crani I was assisting on (ie: watching through the scope while doing nothing), I counted a cumulative 5.5 hours that the MD or NP running the gas was dozing/sleeping. Not gonna lie, I was jealous that he slept more at work than I did that night.

Glad you're ok, Doc.

Thought you might enjoy seeing all the teabaggers, um I mean professional economists, who support the Rominee.


Sid Schwab said...

It's a nice long list. I didn't check them all out; I note that one got his prize for work on derivatives, those things that crashed the economy.

And their statement is full of right wing talking points and inaccurate statements about Obama. In particular, its claims about Obamacare are so ridiculous as to be fairly characterized as lies.

The two Nobellers that I know of, Stiglitz and Krugman, who generally support Obama, are also critical of him in areas; and I've never heard them parrot talking points like that. It's really a pretty remarkable document in that regard.

On the other hand, it's nice to hear from you, so I should be kinder.

Wild-Ivy said...

Wow, Sid. Glad you're here.

Anonymous said...

"Time and chance happen to us all"

Chance was there; glad it was the wrong time! We need you; and Judy too.

"Quit work? Buy a VW bus, stop shaving, live by the beach?"

Been there, done that! My beautiful young wife-to-be said "There are giants out there; let's go see them."

And: "We are young; we should see the world while we are young, rather than wait until we are well dressed oldsters, watching the young do what we had wanted to do all along."

So we took that old VW Transporter and went out and lived everywhere.

She was right: Time and chance do happen to us all.

It was grand, and we could have missed it all.


Sid Schwab said...

Smart wife. Smart you for seeing it.

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