Reflections on Death by Richard Bleil
Early on in this experiment I call “Bleil Banter”, I wrote about my heart attack. I framed it in a humorous, and therefore, heroic manner, so, you know I’m cool.
Of course, humor is often just a way of covering up something deeper.
Lately, I’ve been sleeping into yet another all-too-familiar bout of depression. Often, I don’t understand the cause for these, but I think I know this one. See, on this day seven years ago, I was dying.
Yup, I’m celebrating (if that’s the proper term for it) the seventh anniversary of my heart attack. They had gone in to do an angioplasty, but it failed.
Angioplasty is where they insert a very long flexible tube filled with devices for drilling and pushing and inserting, and a camera so the doctor can see, into your artery. They used to use the artery that is on the inside of your leg by the hip, right by the groin, but these days the strap your hand down harshly and go through an artery in the wrist. I fell asleep with them strapping down my hand, and woke up with them messing around by my groin.
I didn’t mind so much, but when the nurses saw my nether regions, the doctor lost all confidence.
And there we are with another joke.
As it turns out, the arteries near my heart were too brittle, too damaged to power through, so the doctors were forced to go with the good old-fashioned triple bypass. They said it’s probably for the better; in 2012 I was 49. It’s not good to have such major problems when you’re not even fifty yet, and apparently, these operations have a life expectancy. Triple bypass usually lasts about ten years, and the time is drawing nigh.
The year 2012 was a tough one for me. I mean really tough. I had full time jobs my entire life up until that point, and was fully insured. The first year that I wasn’t insured, I end up with a six figure hospital bill. A hospital bill, by the way, that I never paid, and probably never will. I actually called up a few weeks after the surgery and asked to set up a payment plan. The person I spoke with informed me that repayment is based on age (which sounds REALLY illegal to me), and at my age, they wanted their money in…three months. I didn’t have insurance because I was working half time at a job, so there is NO way I would be able to scrounge up six figures, with a part-time job and losing everything in the divorce, in three months. And I told them as such. So I asked again if we can set up a payment plan. They said nope, three months, of which one had passed. I said “then you’re not going to get your money.”
It’s sad. It’s not that I don’t WANT to pay. These good men and women saved my life; I wanted to pay for their services, but, there’s just no way. This is why we need the ACA. Today, I’m again without a full time job, and therefore again without insurance, so, of course my heart will give out soon. It’s just how things go.
Debt weighs heavily on my mind these days, and for good reason. I have no money, but a LOT of debt. THings haven’t been going well for me. Now, let’s add the anniversary of my heart attack. It gets me to thinking about my own mortality, and my place in the world. I’m not sure I have one. I think about the future, and I’ll be forgotten.
Ever go back to your old high school? It’s odd to visit your old stomping grounds. I was a big zero in high school, nobody, nothing, nada, zip, zilch. I was such a dull part of high school life that if I were eaten by a mythical creature, even the creature wouldn’t have gotten notice. But, revisiting, you realize that there is just NOTHING of you left. You’re gone. All those “big Whigs” in your class? Not a sign. I went to visit my old locker, and of course it had been reassigned. It’s not surprising, it just seems so…final.
How long will it take the world to forget me? A few decades? A few years? Months? Weeks? Days? I learned many years ago that we, the entire human society, our civilization, everything that we have learned, everything we have accomplished will vanish. I knew this in middle school. What a depressing middle school. One day, humans will be extinct, the sun will burn out, the earth will disappear into the dust of the cosmos. Given time, every probe we’ve sent into space, no matter how far away, will disappear. Heck, for that matter, everything will simply vanish; the entire universe, everything everywhere into either the great expansion (everything gets so far apart that nothing but subatomic particles remain) or in the big crunch (like the big bang, but in reverse). It’s a sobering thought.
And it’s the thought I’ll leave you with today. Because it is the thought occupying my consciousness today.