A little over a year ago, I had knee surgery. I tore my outer meniscus on my right knee by simply getting out of the truck. No weird twisting, no over-exertion, nothing like that. Just opening the door and stepping out.
Since it was a work related injury, I was covered under the worker’s compensation fund. Before I could get the surgery, I had to get an MRI to see exactly what was going on inside my knee and be able to pinpoint where the damage was and how much damage was there. Before I could get the MRI, I had to do physical therapy. MRI’s and surgery ain’t cheap if you didn’t know, and worker’s compensation wants to try everything else possible before going the expensive route.
While I was doing physical therapy and was waiting for the go ahead to get the MRI, I was hobbling along, doing the best I could with a bum knee. One evening, my girlfriend and I decided to take a shower together. It’s a regular routine for us. If you don’t shower with your partner, I highly recommend it. It’s a great excuse to see them nekkid, it’s a chance to get your back washed, it’s a great way to conserve water if that’s your thing, and it’s a chance for a moment of intimacy.
While we were in the shower, we talked about our days, we washed each other, and my girl decided to give me a shave. This is one of her skills that I love about her. The willingness to show affection and take care of me. She started by shaving my head and then moved on to my face and neck, making sure to not shave the beard off. While she was shaving my neck, I’m standing with my left leg locked and my right leg slightly “askew.” I say that because I couldn’t lock my knee on this leg because of the injury. While she is shaving my neck I’m looking up towards the ceiling. I start feeling a little bit funny and so I say, “I’m feeling a little light headed.” I was planning on squatting down in the shower to get the blood flow back into my brain. Yeah right. Good idea. Too bad it didn’t work out that way.
I come to in the bottom of the tub. Any time in my past when I have passed out, my hearing is what comes back first. Followed by my vision and then my body. It’s strange passing out, you don’t realize until after the fact that you did. Coming to is like waking up from a dream. You can hear things going on around you, but you think you’re dreaming them. My experience has been that when I’m “waking up,” everything is chaos. This time was no different.
I can hear her screaming my name over and over. I hear her say that she’s going to call an ambulance. I hear her leave the bathroom and go into the bedroom to grab her phone. About this time, my vision comes back and I realize I’m lying in the bottom of the tub. The shower is off and I’m soaking wet. Why the fuck am I lying in the bottom of the tub?
My girl comes running back into bedroom, buck naked and soaking wet, phone in hand. She’s crying. I tell her, “Hang on. Don’t call an ambulance yet. Just give me a minute.” My body and brain are still trying to reboot and get back online. I don’t know exactly how long I laid there in the bottom of the tub, but it felt like hours. Finally my brain and body are talking to each other again and I feel stable enough that I think I can get out of the tub without too much problem and hopefully I won’t injure myself any more than I already have.
My girl helped me out of the tub and walked me to the bed so that I could lie down for a minute and get my shit together. As we pass the bathroom mirror, I glance at myself, and I shit you not, I’m ghost white from head to toe. I lied down on the bed and let my brain and my body finish getting their shit together, and I ask her what happened. She preceded to tell me the very little that I knew, the part about me saying that I was feeling light-headed, and then from there the story got interesting.
“You stiffened up and then your mouth went slack. You started slowly sliding down the wall of the shower. I grabbed you and I started saying your name and you didn’t answer. You went completely white. I didn’t want you to crash down and bust your head open or something, so I tried holding you up, but you were dead weight. I started slapping you across the face to get you to respond, but you didn’t. I couldn’t hold on to you so I helped you slide down the wall and into the bottom of the tub. I was saying your name over and over, but you wouldn’t respond. I started freaking out. I thought you were dead. I thought maybe you had a stroke or a heart attack or something. Your eyes were open the whole time.”
That’s when she really started sobbing. I sat up and held her and told that everything was going to be all right. That I was going to be fine. That I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. She was really freaked out by the whole experience. If memory serves me correctly, this was the first time that she had ever seen someone pass out for whatever reason.
While it has taken me a while to write about this experience, and it’s taken you however long to read about it, the actual experience when it happened, the passing out and coming to part of it at least, was under 30 seconds. From me saying that I was feeling light-headed to coming to at the bottom of the tub and telling my girl to hold off on calling the ambulance was less than 30 seconds.
Yeah, so? What’s the point?
The point is that your life can be over faster than you can blink your eyes. You can be going along, minding your own business, doing whatever it is that you are doing, and just like that, it’s over.
You may think that what you do doesn’t matter, that nothing matters. You couldn’t possibly be more wrong. Everything matters. All of it. What you say, what you do, it fucking matters.
When I passed out, I had and have no recollection of what happened. Zero. I only know because of what my girl told me. I’m not sure what happens after we die, I don’t know about reincarnation or some kind of afterlife. The thought that I put to word, but feel a little shiver of fear when I utter it is, there is no afterlife. There is no reincarnation. When we die, it’s like turning off a light switch. One moment you are there, the next you are not.
Everything matters. You have this one life to live. What you do with it is up to you. You don’t know when your time is up. It’s up when it’s up. What are you doing to make the most of your time here? What kind of legacy will you leave behind when you are gone?
Oh, my surgery? I had it about a month after my incident in the shower. The doc fixed it up fine and it’s healed as much as it’s going to. Squatting is a bit painful for me now, I have to do a modified squat to get down. I can’t run as fast as I used to, and I can’t run for as long either, my knee starts to fatigue. When a storm is coming on, my knee gets achy, it’s my own personal barometer I guess, and it hasn’t been wrong yet. When I went in for the surgery itself, they put me under via anesthesia. I remember being wheeled into the operating theater, getting some chitchat with the nurse, and then waking up in a recovery room. It literally went like that. No talk about, “Okay, we are giving you the sedative, you should feel warm and tingly, we need you to count backwards from 10 to 1,” type of shit. I was talking and then I woke up. The surgery was a little over an hour. That’s an hour of life that I know nothing about other than through other people.
Light switch on. Light switch off.
What you do matters. Everything matters.