The Wild Life #2
I’m sorry, did that sound a little dramatic? A little cryptic, or even a piss poor stab at being metaphorically analogous? Well, maybe I’m just feeling a little more full of myself this afternoon than I usually do. Nearly dying on an operating table with your chest cracked open like a lobster at a beach clam bake will do that for you. On March 14, 20015 at 1200 noon, one month ago almost to the minute that I am writing this, I was out in my garage, applying a custom DuraCoat finish on a Remington 700 varmint rifle with an airbrush, a hobby I’ve enjoyed for the last five years, when the chest pains hit me deep in the center of my sternum like running into a steel fence post in the dark in the middle of the night. Did I know I was having a heart attack? You’re damned right I did. Did I drop everything, and run into the house, screaming to my wife to call an ambulance? Of course not. Not only am I a chief of police, I am also a chief DENIER, and always have been. Other than police physicals, dental appointments, and visits to the eye doctor every three or so years, I have stayed as far away from medical professionals as humanly possible unless it involved transporting people to the hospital or interviewing them there in the course of my duties as a law enforcement officer. In fact, except for one time many years ago, when I was taken to a small medical clinic in Alaska and put on a table for treatment of a broken leg, while the suspect who had broken my leg laid on his own table next to mine, suffering from a gunshot wound I had inflicted on him for causing my injury while attempting to arrest him for assault, the last time I had been in a hospital was when I had been born. I had been quite healthy, all of my life, but, hey, time catches up with all of us, and contrary to that old saying…what you don’t know can kill you. Sometimes. The funny thing is, exactly one week before the heart attack I had been on a hunting trip to the high desert country of Central, OR by myself some 40 miles from the nearest hospital at Klamath Falls, and with no cell phone service. Had the heart attack happened out there, I don’t believe I would have made it. Hell, I almost didn’t make it anyhow. I had been working on that rifle for the past three weeks, and Saturday was the end of the project…applying three coats of clear coat to the “Arroyo” custom camo pattern. So of course, when the chest pains started in the middle of coat #2, and cold sweat began to pour from my face and head like I was standing under an icy waterfall…I kept right on painting. I was going to get that third coat on that rifle, even if it killed me, and it almost did. I finally dropped my airbrush on my work table, and staggered into the house. I took a quick shower, donned some clean clothes. I popped an aspirin. Laid down on the bed for a couple of minutes, and denied, denied, denied. And all of this with my poor wife down the hall in her computer room, watching a TV show and completely oblivious about what was going on. Finally, I walked into her room and asked her to drive me to our local fire department, a mile across town. She asked my why. I told her. She freaked out, demanding to call 911 for an ambulance. I freaked out, telling her I’d rather drop dead on the spot, and to just get me in the effing car and DRIVE ME THERE. I know all of our local F.D. paramedics, I work with them practically every day. I’ve been to hundreds of emergency calls with these guys, heart attacks included, but I did not want that ambulance pulling into my driveway with red and blue strobes flashing, and siren screaming, brining that confusion, panic, and chaos into my home. JaNell got me to the fire department in time. The paramedics took one look at me in the lobby, and the next thing I knew I was in the back of their ambulance, red and blue strobes flashing, and siren screaming, headed like a bat out of hell to Rogue Valley Regional Medical Center in Medford twenty miles away. I don’t remember much after that, thanks to the morphine drip they gave me, and an overwhelming feeling of calm and peace that had come over me in accepting the fact that this was the day I was apparently meant to die. And compared to the many horrible, painful, and absolutely gruesome deaths I had seen others experience during my career as a police officer, including a brother, and a sister, I was OK with that. Eleven hours later, I woke up in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit after a failed stent surgery, followed by quadruple-bypass surgery…and I wished to God that I had died. The pain, and trauma done to my body was unbelievable. It was like being shot square in the chest with a .45, and then hit in the neck, the left thigh, and twice in the groin. It has been a month of ongoing excruciating pain, healing at home now, but also a month of extreme humility, gratitude, and optimism. The paramedics of the Rogue River Fire Department, and the doctors, surgeons, and nurses at Rogue Valley Regional Medical Center, literally saved my life. These are the people who gave me my “fresh heart,” my second chance at life. And my wife, JaNell, continues to save my life, in little, and big ways, each and every day. Yes, I am well aware that she has had an absolute bastard as a patient this past month. I do not do sickness, and helplessness, very well. No, not very well at all. But, hey, honey, at least you don’t have to hold my you-know-what any longer while I pee because I am able to do that all by myself now. And, you get to go back to work on Monday, you lucky girl. As for me? Well, I’m not going anywhere, except to adjoining rooms in our home, or upstairs to my writing room, anytime soon. It will probably be another month, at least, before I can return to work on light duty. But just keep that Oxycodone coming, and a fresh Wok pan of low-sodium vegetable stir fry sizzling on the stove, and I’ll be just fine. I’m working on my new book “R2” and the writing is going good. Oh, and I found a tiny spot on that Remington 700 that needs to be touched up, so I’ll be back out in my garage this week to fix that. I’m not sure what my future holds, none of us really ever do. Maybe I’ll open up a Conservative bakery, like Jace Fuller in Flight of the Bowyer and refuse to bake any cakes for liberals. One thing I do know, is that I am going to continue to enjoy my beloved mountains, and high desert country, and I am going to continue to speak up, and speak out, against the aberration in our society known as the Progressive Liberal Left, and the cancer they are spreading throughout our American culture and our traditional American way of life. I am going to expose them, write about them, vote against them, and stop them. Fear the man, who does not fear death. That would be me, liberals, because I have now been there, done that, and have the scar beneath my tee-shirt to prove it. This is my Do-Over, and I intend on doing it right this time.