Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bear Faces His Mortality

The evening before last, the Bear was lounging in front of his computer screen, when suddenly moderately severe chest pains struck. He waited for two minutes (having read somewhere that you should act on any chest pains that last longer than two minutes). Then he got up on his hind legs and announced to his driver, bodyguard and factotum, Red Death that we were going to the Veteran's Administration Hospital ER right now.

After what might have been a sketch from the Three Stooges, with a special appearance by Buster, the Yorkie, who insisted on accompanying his master, Red Death and the Bear's son managed to get the stricken Bear into the car. 

During the thirty minute drive from the goat pastures of Zoar to the VA hospital, the Bear had to face the possibility it might be a one-way trip.

He pulled out his rosary and prayed it.

He contemplated his sins.

He was sorry.

He didn't feel confident about judgment.

He regretted the drama of it all, as he imagined a medical team swarming all over his furry body, his family disrupted and grieving.

He told Red Death that he was open to massive employment of morphine if it came to it, short of hastening his death. (The Bear is a chicken, and Bears never turn down opiates.)

At the ER, they did an ECG. They drew blood. They put a line in. They hooked him up to a monitor. They gave him four baby aspirin to chew. The Bear asked for some diazepam. (Due to being frequently tranquilized by humans, the Bear has developed an appreciation for benzos.) His request was granted.

The Bear amused himself by making his blood pressure go up by picturing the Pope, and then making it go down by not. Seriously. He considered that the Pope might be hazardous to his health. He was, in fact, writing an ephemeris article about the Pope when he was afflicted.

He was ignored for an hour and a half, then they came in and took some more blood. The Bear was encouraged that otherwise they seemed have have forgotten about him.

Finally, a nurse came in and said everything was perfectly normal, and the Bear had not had a heart attack, and could leave. It was anticlimactic. Follow-up appointments were made with Cardiology.

This was a good way to start off Lent. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. Who really plans for their death? It seems to the Bear that making it up as he went along was not the best way of preparing himself. Perhaps the Bear will develop this issue.

41 comments:


  1. I'm overdue for confession.. You just inspired me to go. Life is so fragile.

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    1. My dad sold life insurance. As a kid, I would look at the various advertising posters at his office. One was a pair of shoes. It said something like, "You put on your shoes this morning. You don't know if you'll be the one to take them off."

      It will be three weeks for me Saturday. I figure I'll go.

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  2. ars moriendi

    A very nice translation from the Latin can be found in this thesis; it includes original woodcuts to illustrate:

    http://www.ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/10313

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    1. Indeed. They used to provide detailed instructions for the dying and the friends gathered to encourage and support him. The manuals covered different temptations that the dying might experience. It was considered the Devil's last best chance to snare a person's soul.

      Now the nurse gives you some Roxanol every fifteen minutes and you don't even have to be there when you die.

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  3. Dear Bear,

    In 2012 seven stents were put into four cardiac arteries due to >95% clogging in three and > 75% in one. My blood sugar was 498 mg/dl and my triglycerides were 4900 mg/dl - in other words, my blood was bacon fat floating in maple syrup. Obviously I was not caring properly for what St Paul called the temple of the Holy Spirit. I know I deserved to die because I had given up my good diet and my exercise - I let myself get depressed and I should have been more honest at Confession (that's no place to be lacking in rigorous honesty). My boss at work said I dodged a bullet that time. Then last year I had chest pains while walking the trails in the woods. I went back to the physician who plumbed the depths of my arterial system via a catheter in my wrist. Nothing amiss was discovered. Nevertheless, no man knoweth the day nor the time when his soul will be called to account. I think Jesus once gave a parable about a rich farmer who said he was going to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. Jesus said, "Thou fool! This night thy soul will be required of thee." Memento, homo; quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.

    I will add you, Bear, to my Rosary prayer list. Bottom line: maintain a low fat, low sugar, high fiber diet, do moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes per day three times per week, and go to Confession often. I am overdue. No man knoweth the day. Lord have mercy on us all.

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    1. Wow. Glad you're still with us. But be careful about beating yourself up about "let myself get depressed." Sometimes we can court depression, but other times, it's going to happen whatever we do. Thank you for the prayers.

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  4. God keep you free from pain and anxiety. Wonder what the > 2 minute pain was? Indigestion? Muscle strain? Glad you are here to guide us through Lent.

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    1. I dunno. I passed a stress echo in 2011. Guess that's a long time ago now. Either stress-induced heart spasm / angina or some esophageal thing. I suspect the latter.

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    2. My husband had an esophogeal spasm episode a few years ago, when he was working at a stressful job. He quite calmly announced he had chest pain and asked me to take him to the ER. After a battery of tests, the doctor suspected stress as the cause of the spasm.

      About a year ago, my mom had chest pain, and the ER doctor determined that it was a serious case of reflux. The key was the pain she felt when he applied pressure to the area. In her case, it came about because she hadn't eaten since breakfast (it was about 6 pm when she had the episode). Doctor said that going too long without eating can sometimes cause reflux which mimics heart attack.

      Prayers for continued health, Bear.

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    3. Thank you. Hopefully they'll figure out what's going on, if anything. I seem to be the patient that doctors can never quite figure out, though. Probably because I'm a Bear.

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    4. I had that same scare many years ago...turned out it was indigestion, and slight acid reflux. I now have an occasional attack (maybe a couple times a year) and if I take a pepcid A/C or even tums it's gone in a matter of minutes. Hate it however, because I'm always wondering if this may be 'the real thing', but 20 years later, I'm still kicking so??

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  5. Welcome back from the brink. It is quite the eye-opening experience. Glad you are still with us. A blessed Lent to you.

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  6. Welcome back from the brink. It is quite the eye-opening experience. Glad you are still with us. A blessed Lent to you.

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  7. I'm not a big Fr Z fan, but his advice to "Get to Confession" is a good one.

    Any time I fly, I make sure I go to confession. I had a tooth extracted last summer. I was fully sedated. I made sure I had confession before hand. Those are all circumstances we can plan around if we are smart. What you experienced not so much... thank God you were spared this time around. Next time, the Lord may have a different idea.

    Also, enroll in the Brown Scapular devotion. Trust the Holy Mother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might be surprised to learn that Fr. Z is an admirer of St. Corbinian's Bear. He just has to be a lot more careful than the Bear. We are really saying the same thing: yes things are weird, but stay in the plain old Roman Catholic Church.

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    2. P.S. My purpose for saying that is not for a "celebrity endorsement," but for saying Fr. Z is worth following closely. And I am certain his approval of SCB does not extend to many of the Bear's individual articles.

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  8. I'm not a big Fr Z fan, but his advice to "Get to Confession" is a good one.

    Any time I fly, I make sure I go to confession. I had a tooth extracted last summer. I was fully sedated. I made sure I had confession before hand. Those are all circumstances we can plan around if we are smart. What you experienced not so much... thank God you were spared this time around. Next time, the Lord may have a different idea.

    Also, enroll in the Brown Scapular devotion. Trust the Holy Mother.

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  9. On Monday while I was grocery shopping I had chest pain, which I tried to ignore. It hadn't gone away five minutes later and my jaw began to feel tight. I reached inside my shirt and felt for my brown scapular. It was there. I prayed. I felt calmer. In a few minutes the tightness began to subside in both chest and jaw. Nothing like chest pain to remind man (or woman) of the importance of Confession. I will remember you in my evening rosary.

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    1. Thank you. You might consider seeing about that, anyway.

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  10. Dear Mr. Bear, I am very glad you are doing well. +God is Good!+. My dear husband had a heart attack 3 years ago and one of his doctors said," If you can pull it out of the ground, you can eat it. Stay away from boxed foods." That led my family to discovering Dr. Esselstyn's book, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease." He is a heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and his results have been amazing. I hope you have time to check it out, being a bear and all....amr

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    1. Thank you. Fortunately, Bear and human physiology is remarkably similar, so it ought to work.

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  11. So glad the news was good, Bear. There's rejoicing in the woods today -- quietly, as befits the season, but no less sincerely. May we be mindful of our need to stay close to God.

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    1. A man in India was killed by a meteorite hitting him, I heard. You just never know. But there's no excuse for a Catholic not to be ready.

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  12. The take-away is that one day it will not be a false alarm. And we will die, probably unpleasantly, with devils snatching at our faith until the last gasp.

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    1. Thank God you're in fine fettle, Bear. A fine fettle of fish ought be a treat. All that cardiac pizazz is what lead to my retirement though there are those who'd said one must have a heart to have heart problems.

      My doctor suggested some of my difficulties may have been genetic. Panic attacks! Amazing.

      I remember you in my prayers daily, Bear.

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    2. Thank you, Your Honor. Panic attacks are a true horror quite indescribable to anyone who hasn't had them. I used to get them, but the all the drugs the Federal Government now requires Bears to take in order to be considered safe to mingle with humans must have taken care of those.

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    3. Been there, done that with panic attacks. If I could be a time traveller, I'd pack a huge rucksack of benzodiazepines and go from medieval village to village and seek out those who suffer panic disorder and dispense freely and advise to take as needed as an adjunct to daily rosary.

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  13. Oh Bear, thank God. Thank God! I am also grateful that everyone else here who has had scares are with us. Life is fragile indeed. I just had a fairly routine medical procedure which required sedation, and I made sure to go to Confession and ask for Father's blessing. The sacraments are so comforting.
    I hope your spasm was esophageal as well. It probably wouldn't hurt to take some Zantac and lay off the greasy stuff.
    Everybody might consider having baby aspirins on hand. They should always be taken in this circumstance.

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    1. Yes, the first thing I asked for was an aspirin. We didn't have any.

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  14. Oh, my, so glad to hear you're doing fine. I will certainly keep you in my prayers. Please pray for me, too!

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  15. If this ever happens again, please call your local paramedics. 30 minutes would be a long time to be in cardiac arrest.
    I'm glad it worked out. I sometimes wonder what it's going to be like laying there looking up at the hospital ceiling.

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  16. After working on a neuro floor and seeing a lot of relatively young stroke patients, I Started taking one prophylactic aspirin every day. Been doing it for 12 years. There are other benefits to a daily aspirin with regards to cancer as well.


    Seattle Kim r.n.

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  17. God has plans for you Bear and they don't include up and dying right yet. He needs you to help Him with His work seeing that many who are supposed to be doing it are not. Keep up your good work Bear and may God Bless you always.

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    1. Couldn't have said it better Michael! Prayers for the Bear and all those good Catholic bloggers that are trying like heck to bring back true Catholicism into the Church in crisis mode.

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  18. I'm so glad you're home now. And cheer up, the last time I went to the ER thinking it was a heart attack, the doctor made fun of me.

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  19. Glad you are recovered. Blessed Lent to you.

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  20. Whew, thank God da bear is okay!

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  21. Glad everything turned out alright. God bless you.

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