I went to see a friend today. He's got cancer and the doctors have only given him a few weeks to live. I'll tell you more about him later when I can deal with that little tidbit.
Anyway, his sudden turn for the worse has made me reflect on my own life and mortality (as if the pills, the monitor, the physical restrictions and the chest pains don't do that enough). Here's the problem. When I face things like death, I make jokes. Really morbid jokes. My friends and family don't always find this amusing. Usually, the ones who crack up either have the same morbid sense of humor or aren't quite in on how bad it really is. Some people get really upset when I joke about it.
But you know what? Tough. I think it's funny. And it helps. So, here are the morbid comedic stylings of Melinda. (Probably not as funny in writing, but whatevs.)
My first major "event," I was rushed to the hospital with lights and sirens and the whole shebang. My blood pressure was bottoming out. My pulse was through the roof. I was struggling to breathe. The EMT pushed epinephrine into my IV, which hurts like fucking hell. (It's like Klingons are having sex in your chest and zombies are trying to crack open your skull for a light snack. Your hands and feet contract into these weird, paralyzed claws, which is just so fucking sexy.) Then, the EMT started screaming all this medical nonsense into the radio. The only thing I understood from watching ER were the words "We need a crash cart at the ambulance bay! Stat!" At moments like this, you're supposed to reflect on your life, think profound thoughts, curse like a sailor... I did the last one quite well, but the rest was just terror and loneliness UNTIL the EMT started rubbing my left hand to ease the muscle contraction. That's when I noticed that she was really hot and Melinda's potential last thought became: "Yeah, Baby! I got another hand you can rub right over here." I totally want that on my tombstone!
Fast forward a while past lots of ER visits, finding a cardiologist, getting diagnosed, playing reverse Russian roulette with my treatment options and finding out that I wasn't going to be chasing the ladies around with my walker in some old folks' home. I had to be realistic. Still in my late 20's, I had to make plans for my death and what I wanted as far as heroic measures to save my life and life support. Fortunately, my sister Judy's a nurse, so she's perfect to make decisions when I can't and to know when to say when. That one was easy. Explaining to my family that my Borg fetish doesn't extend to being hooked up to machines... not so easy. How do you explain to people who love you that you don't want to be kept on tap past your "sell by" date? If you're me, you crack jokes. I gave them the real deal then I started telling my sister Belinda that she was back-up. It went something like this:
Me: Hey, Belinda! You're a bitch. If Judy doesn't have the ovaries to unplug me, accidentally trip over the fucking cord. You know... ahem... accidentally. (I jump up and mime tripping over a cord accidentally on purpose, including fake nonchalant whistling.)
Belinda: No. I can't trip over the cord. That might not work. I'll just pull the plug. (She mimes pulling the plug.) Then, I'll just be like "Oops. I thought this was my cell phone charger. My bad." Hey, I'm a blonde. It'll work.
This led to Nurse Judy losing it laughing and my sister-in-law jumping in with her own ideas. While certain completely unfunny family members looked on in disapproval, we planned "how to kill Melinda if Judy wusses out," complete with uproarious laughter and special little mime skits. That's the most fun I've ever had planning my death.
Flash forward to my lasting much longer than some people with fancy shmancy medical degrees thought I would because I'm either too awesome or too bitchy to die. (Death should not fuck with the former captain of the chess team! I'll checkmate his bony ass!) I went home to visit my family and had to fill my sister Judy in on the fact that she's the beneficiary on my employer-provided life insurance policy and pension death benefits. This is when I realize that this may not be such a good idea. Remember: This is the woman who gets to say when the doctors stop trying to save my life. I tell Judy what I'm thinking: Damnit! Now, one day, I'm going to stub my toe and you're going to start screaming "Pull the plug! Pull the plug!" Judy cracked up laughing for a moment before pausing and saying, "Wait. How much money do I get?" I guess she won't need Belinda as back-up after all.