Friday, December 16, 2005

Too Many Ways to Die

Over the last three years I’ve developed a not so healthy case of generalized anxiety. It’s official; there are too many ways to die. Six million may be just a small exaggeration, but the point being: I know way too many of them now.

It seems I can invoke three climactic death scenes for anyone I know. You name a medical condition and I can think of ten horrible terminal scenarios that will part one with dear life. Diabetes, for example, causes complications ranging from a simple hyperglycemic coma to Diabetic Ketoacidosis, both potentially deadly. Even as I write the prescription for diabetic medications my mind trembles with fear at the thoughts of further potential complications.

“We tried to save him Dear Internal Medicine Doctor, but when we got there he had blood glucose of 10. By the time we finally got access it was negative 50.”

While most drivers worry about a high speed crash switching lanes on an interstate highway at 60 MPH, I worry about the driver in front suddenly having a tonic-clonic seizure. In a word, I find this new diversion “unhealthy”.

No one can accuse me of lacking imagination, or hypocrisy; after all, I’ve all but terminated myself a hundred thousand times over. I figure if things go well I’ll die of septic shock while my wife tries to urgently call paramedics. God will support my cause and due to unexplained reasons the four tires on the ambulance will go flat. I plan on having my jaw wired to prevent myself from being intubated, just for giggles. Maybe I’ll tattoo “DNR” on my forehead.

Of course, I’m anxious things won’t go as planned and I’ll get in the line of a perfectly good bullet, meant for someone else, on my way to an anti-gun rally. Each scenario just keeps getting more and more sarcastic and ironic, not to mention painful.

The next young man who complains of being abducted by aliens on his way to Pluto will surely get a STAT ride to psychiatry on my ER shift. It’s just that next time I may do one of two other things. First, I may congratulate him on a death scenario that even I could not have fathomed for such a healthy young soul. But in addition to doing this I may just ask him to “scoot on over” and make a little room for me on the stretcher. I think I need to come along for the ride.