The last thing I remember as I lay in the hallway of my apartment was reaching for the just delivered, (wrong-sized) watermelon to use as a pillow. I felt at peace, and why not? I was about to meet my maker (or not). On August 5th, I had what is blithely referred to as an “Afib” followed by my heart stopping. I have no idea why because I had had a defibrillator installed at Tel HaShomer in 2015 and it still had juice in the battery. Thankfully, I recall nothing except waking up in a hospital bed and wondering who was feeding my two Allenby-Balfour cats.
People are always quick to describe “near death experiences,” but what about death experiences? I saw no bright lights and no images from my life. I didn’t even see my grandparents, father (z”l) or my beloved German shepherd, Mark. Clearly, death is not all it is cracked up to being. As the fog lifted, I learned that my left wrist was broken in the fall. As I am typing this, it is all being done with one hand. And for some bizarre reason, my eyesight improved to the point that I no longer need my glasses to read my laptop, but I still have vision issues.
The hardest part of my recovery has been the realization that I have to rely upon the assistance offered by others. For a single, independent person like me, this is a major embarrassment. The good news is that more than a few home healthcare workers now each have the equivalent of a masters degree in the fine art of changing a cat litter box. (Sorry, ladies).
Also, I find that I now have to make “end-of-life” decisions which, frankly, I put off a long time ago, even with my stepmother’s persistent refrain of “Who is going to take your cats?” ringing in my ear. My brother tacked a copy of my “DNR” or “Do Not Resuscitate” order on my refrigerator. He says this is a common practice and the first place first responders look in emergencies such as mine. He didn’t notice the refrigerator magnets he was using that were a present from one of my two dearest friends, Ofer. The angry chihuahua magnet says it all.
If you are of a certain age, please take the time to think about who you want making decisions about your life, should you have a — God forbid — unforeseen life event or health issue. Who do you trust most? Who will respect your wishes? Who will make life-altering decisions for you should you be unable to express them yourself? Who gets the angry chihuahua refrigerator magnet?
I have many people to thank: Arlington County, Virginia’s Fire and Rescue, the staff at Arlington Hospital Center, kind neighbors, and especially Gabriella, who took care of my cats while I was incapacitated. I probably should also thank the leasing office staff who had to come pick me off the floor after I fell off the edge of my bed a few weeks ago, but I am too embarrassed to do so. And by the way, you truly can’t push yourself up one-handed off the floor. And much thanks to my primary caregiver, “Neju.” Stay healthy. Love and be loved.