I was transporting a man recently, I had to fly him to a specialty hospital in an attempt to get him closer to a donor heart and surgeon. I say attempt because there was not yet a donor. He was going to be placed on an LVAD as a stop gap measure. The difficulty his heart was having was obvious in how much weakness he had from doing normal things like lifting his legs.
I was sitting next to him on the ride to the airport in the back of the ambulance and the patient got to talking. He told me about his years in high school, his crazy days in college. The times when he would travel to the border to go into Mexico and party. How back then violence wasn’t as prevalent as it is now in Mexico and they felt safe getting lost.
He tells me about his first wife, how they met. How love grew in him and he felt whole. He became a family man, he was content. His business flourished, after he retired he taught what he had learned.
He told me of how much it hurt when his first wife died. He told me how he didn’t think he would ever survive, but his children and much later another woman gave him a reason to keep going.
Getting into the plane he notices me put on my earphones and get on my phone. I need to call my dispatch center before takeoff and inform them of our eta, tail number, pilot and who’s on board. They already know but it’s a formality. As soon as I’m done I take off my earphones, I can’t fly with them first because it would not let me hear the patient or my equipment and also because my ears have trouble regulating pressures. I can easily see his relief.
The man talks to me of a life well lived, the problems were always present but never outnumbered the joys. It saddens me that I know the chances he has are very slim. He will get on LVAD and hope he can get better or receive a healthy heart. It makes me think that he might know his chances, he is a smart and educated man. How must it feel to know, in a very real and very in your face way, that your days are numbered? We all know we’re going to die, but we push it away. We drown it out and most are blindsided when it’s there next to us. This man has had days to contemplate, weeks of preparation, long nights in the hospital with nothing but his thoughts and the sound of machines feeding him medicines in a fight they can never win, only delay.
I hope when my end comes I can look back at my life and feel contentment, know that I was loved and that I loved. Hope I can face the death that is inevitable head on.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.