Thursday, January 10, 2013
I've addressed some of the ways chronic illness and near death can play havoc on our perception, fear of loss, and even our humor of individuals in Death Warp and in Warped, Skewed, Jacked Up...Whatever. A close friend and I frequently share health experiences with one another and share a common warped sense of humor and views on life and death. We both tend to be death oriented due to the altering effects of health and PTSD on the mind. I've noticed this is common among others in our health circles, it's a mix of coping with the tragic and reshaped perception of life and what once and should be, and all the near misses of death.
It's those near misses that we tend to become fixated on and that ultimately is what alters our perceptions; whether it's a near miss of someone physically dying and returning to life, experiencing and out of body experience, realizing death was drawing near, or simply surviving the unexpected. Each person's experiences are different, they can be incredibly peaceful or can be so terrifying that we either fear the moment of death or we long for the moment to be completed.
As a child I survived the unexpected more than once and was left with scars upon my soul and psyche so deep that I emerged with intense rage and hatred. However, during the year of high school when my health rapidly declined I was aware of death quickly approaching unless something dramatically changed with my health. I was so sensitive to this awareness that I said my goodbyes to my parents in case I wouldn't later have the chance. My doctor later told me that she never knew if I would live from week to week during that period. I had never experienced such a peacefulness and calmness as the time spent telling my parents goodbye. I've never had an out of body experience and I've never physically died, but in that moment I knew that death was a greater peace than anyone can imagine. Since that moment, I have longed for very little other than to experience such grand peace once again. The combination between this longing for eternal peace and my own drive for perfectionism, I am compelled to complete preparation for life events, including my own funeral.
Since high school my funeral has been planned out to the details of the itinerary, even the music to be played and letters to be given to specific loved ones, I have an Advanced Directive and a Last Will and Testament, and although I haven't purchased my tombstone I do have one picked out with what I would like engraved upon the stone. I have left detailed instructions for whomever I outlive in regards to my possessions, my funeral, and my legacy for any children my husband and I may have. Frequently I have compulsive thoughts leaving me wondering what it would be like to drive or fall off a bridge, drive or run into oncoming traffic, drive into a tree, etc. This is similar behavior to my close friend, who finds himself writing his own obituary to pass the time and considering those who have already passed on as being "lucky".
Few people can understand or even grasp why we are so death oriented, even my own husband frequently asks me "what is wrong with you" and "why are you obsessed with death". He simply can't relate on that level with me. Fortunately, there are many individuals with the health circles who are able to relate due to their own similar experiences. It is within these close ranks that we may find comfort and temporary peace together during our time toiling this earth as we wait for our eternal peace.
This is my life with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Short Bowel Syndrome. I was diagnosed with FAP as a child, underwent total colectomy at age 9. I experienced life threatening complications resulting in 4 more surgeries that year and developing medical PTSD. I had an ileostomy for 6 years before having it reversed into a straight pull-thru that also resulted in life threatening complications requiring an additional surgery the following year. In 2021, I required my 8th surgery to remove my gall bladder due to gall stones and FAP. This surgery exacerbated my, at the time undiagnosed, Abdominal Migraine which is now being treated.