This past Wednesday I was on my back in the Berkeley Medical Center Cath Lab, plugged in for the shock of my life.
A blood pressure cuff wrapped around my right arm. An IV portal protruded from the back of my left hand, awaiting the drip of a sedative. A clip on the tip of my right index finger glowed red. (ET phone home.)
Patches with long wires adhered to my ankles, chest, and back. A machine atop an “Isolation Crash Cart” chirped. Beep. Beep. Beep. A monitor displayed numbers and a wavy line, the kind of line that goes flat when things go south, as in: YOU DIE.
I asked the sedation nurse if she knew who held the record for being dead the longest before resuscitation? She didn’t.
Would you like to know?
Velma Thomas of Nitro, West Virginia. She was dead for 17 hours.
Is that a joke?
No, I said. But would you like to hear a joke?
Sure. Why not?
A woman took her pet duck to the vet. Something’s wrong with my duck, she exclaimed.
The vet took one look and said: It’s dead.
Can’t be! Are you sure?
The vet pressed his stethoscope to the duck, shook his head and said: It’s definitely dead.
I can’t believe it. I’d like a second opinion.
The vet left the examining room and returned with a black lab. The dog sniffed the duck from head to tail, looked up at the vet and shook its head ruefully. It’s definitely dead, said the vet.
I don’t trust that dog’s opinion. Get another.
The vet left the room and returned with a cat. The cat sniffed the duck head to tail and then shook its head ruefully. Well, said the vet, that settles it. Your duck is absolutely, positively dead. I’m sorry.
The woman wept. The vet left her alone to grieve. After a spell he returned—with the bill.
What?! Two thousand and twenty dollars just to tell me my duck is dead?
Well, ma’am, my fee is only $20, but I had to charge for the lab test and cat scan as well.
The nurse groaned.
I got one more.
She hastily opened the valve.
The wavy line spiked in rhythm. My atrial fibrillation had been corrected with a 100-joule jolt.
I went home.
Heaven can wait.
NO JOKE. GLAD YOU SURVIVED THE TRIP TO THE LAB AND PRAY YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE A GOOD LIFE. KEEP CHARGING.
Nothing like a life-changing revival. Glad you’re back! Thanks Be.
Glad you’re okay—and that’s no joke.
Sounds scary to me. 100 jewels huh? Sounds like you deserve every one of them.
So glad they did their job. We drag around a defibrillator everywhere we go now. At the beach now and both men here have afib. I’m a worrier.
Man plans. God laughs. Love to you.
And the beat goes on. So glad you’ve had a change of heart, but be careful about telling shaggy dog jokes around an EKG; they draw the line. Drum keep pounding that rhythm to the brain and keep these delightful missives coming.
“… EKG; they draw the line.” Good one! Thanks… humor softens the sharp edges. lol
Thanks for coming back. So appropriate for the season. Spring is the time of new life. Enjoy the fresh breath of new birth.
Yes indeed. The older I get the more people I know who are having this sort of procedure. We are all getting older perhaps that’s why ? Glad it worked. Better than the alternative. lab test and cat scan indeed !
I can relate. Mine was at night. A half hour in an ambulance to Martinsburg, a quick exam in the ER hall on the cart, another hour plus ride to the VA hospital in D.C. The next day 5 stents in my heart. Yup I got religion. Now I shovel and rake religiously every day weather permitting. Not to be facetious about religion…. shoveling and raking is a form of prayer for me.
Well…for that matter, well-ness. On all of our minds, and it’s obvious that you are today “preaching to the choir.” And that’s not even funny. Your joke was, but did the vet really have to hand the bereaved woman “the BILL”? Cold. 😉
I must say that I am about “up to here” with death and disease. Didn’t foresee the numbers. Humor does change the coping energy for the better but loss doesn’t; grateful you are here to write another day. Could you just keep it that way, please? 😉
Congrats on the reset, taking the shortcut to nirvana, and spreading Randyism to a nurse who thought it was going to be just another routine sedation.
“Medicine is magical and magical is art”
Boy in the Bubble – Paul Simon
Laughter may not actually be the best medicine, but it’s certainly a panacea for the unnerving experience of being hooked up to a defibrillator! Keep on truckin’, Rev!
I love happy endings, and l’m glad you didn’t try to beat the West Virginia woman’s record! Be well!
No more scares, please. You’re not expendable!
You still have columns to write and messages to send. So take good care of yourself, my friend.
Sorry to hear about the arrhythmia, Doc. Claire and I send our best along with our mantra: “There is no try, only do.” –Yoda
And always Onward! “Keep on pushing, straight ahead.” –Jimi Hendrix (Even though he didn’t push hard enough, Jimi was right.)
Ouch–joke and procedure! Hope your heart continues to work well.😊
So I told this story to Betty Snyder and she said I must tell you what happened. So here is the tale with our thanks!
Easter week you told the story of Elijah and the extra chair at the table. So I repeated it to Ren and he said, “I’m going to call our grandson (who never replies). Maybe he will come for Easter dinner. I will set a chair for him.” And later, the phone rang, it was the grandson, and, sure, he said, he will come for Easter dinner. And he did.
Be well, sending xoxoxo
Ren & Pam
I’m so relieved you’re on the mend. Big hug to you ❤️
Grateful for you – and I’m certain that God loves laughter… I know that we all do… finding the humor is part of what keeps us all going… hearts beating…together. And when the rhythm gets off – thank God there’s a way to bring that rhythm back…sometimes shocking does the trick – love and more love to you; and to us all!! Grateful…
My God! Trust you to write the best rendering of a hospital experience ever. You are not allowed to die, just to let you know. Who would write for us? Just think about that and tell your little atrial fibrilllation to settle down and behave itself. The duck joke is priceless; only you would think to inflict it on your nurse. I’m so glad she groaned when you offered another. Happiness reaches the hospital. Thank you.
Think that was shocking. Wail til YOU get the bill.
Glad to hear all’s well that ends well.