So, What You’re Saying Is …?
Having been around death since a young child, I’ve always been fascinated by the euphemisms used for it: passed on or away, expired (like old milk!!), pushing daisies, gone on to his reward, gone to meet her maker, etc.
But people often tend to couch simply bad or serious news as well. No one in the hospital used the literal words “you almost died” to explain my situation to me. In fact, my first inkling to the seriousness of my condition was in the ER when I asked something along the lines of how much longer all this was going to take because it was late and my friend had to work the next day, and the doctor looked at me with surprise and said, “Oh, you’re not going anywhere; we’re admitting you!” It was the way he said it that got my attention, like, “DUH! Of COURSE you’re not leaving here! You are in SERIOUSLY bad shape. Don’t you realize that?!” Well, no. I don’t go to the doctor and I rarely get sick beyond a bad stuffy nose so, no, I DIDN’T realize that this was something that couldn’t be fixed with a pill or injection!
Part of my “cluelessness” was that I had no pain. As long as I was simply lying on the bed and not exerting any energy, I felt pretty normal, even able to breathe as usual. So the next day when the various specialists started to check in on me, I think they were a little surprised to find someone so … robust! They, of course, would have already reviewed my chart and history and found out that my pulmonary artery — which goes out of the heart and into the lungs, where it divides in two because of there being two lungs — had not just one but two HUGE clots almost completely blocking both of those openings into my lungs. (No wonder I hadn’t been able to get my breath the day before!)
So I’m guessing they were expecting to find an ashen, wheezing, rather pitiful specimen lying in that hospital bed. Instead, (full disclosure: I’m exaggerating here … but only a little!) they found me propped up in a sitting position with my shoulder holding my cell phone to my ear, typing away on my laptop, and holding a finger up to indicate, “I’ll be with you in just a second …”
Almost universally, their response was, “Uh … you DO know how lucky you are, right?!”
Which brings us back to the euphemisms.
The pulmonologist, after actually showing me the CAT scan images of the clots, said, “As you can see, there was BARELY enough room for any blood to squeeze by into your lungs.” Then he locked eyes with me, raised an eyebrow, and slowly shook his head as if to say, “You DO understand what I’m trying to tell you, right?”
Another doctor said, “If those clots had been just a little bigger, I probably wouldn’t be talking with you now.” OK, that was a bit more straightforward.
Then there was the doctor who said, “Apparently God didn’t need you just yet.” And I replied, “Well … maybe not up THERE.”
So, amidst all the euphemisms and gentle couching of phrases, what they were saying, in so many words, was: “You DO realize, don’t you, that apparently you’re still needed down here.”
But the question is … for what, exactly??