It was all a bit dramatic – I wasn’t feeling good after a bout of pneumonia and my GP took one look at me, slapped me on the surgery’s ECG machine and called an ambulance.
They strapped me to a gurney, wheeled me out into the car park and into the ambulance, hooked me up to oxygen and a machine that went ‘beep’.
I felt like a right pillock.
The emergency department was an education. Busy as hell, the guy two cubicles down was telling a mental health worker very eloquently and very graphically about how he was tired of his psychoses and how he would just like to kill everyone please. Shortly afterward he tried to ‘go out for a walk’. It took six security guys with ropes and chains (I kid you not) to haul him back and restrain him. They’d worked up a fair sweat by the time they were finished.
The man across the way was on the gurney because his hip had dislocated. His wife came in to see him. He sounded like a real gentleman until the doctors left and the good natured charmer turned into quite something else. If he had spoken to me the way he conversationally abused his wife it would have been his jaw that was dislocated. Just like Big Ben he had a face for every direction.
Who needs a telly when you have live drama happening all around?
Anyway, I digress.
There I was, now hooked up to another machine that went ‘beep’ and with a cannula in my arm for easy extraction of blood and the process of waiting began. I had plenty of time to think. What if it was a heart attack, the thing they were testing me for? I had a family history of heart disease so I am in the risk zone. What if I had come close to it being the last day I saw? I tell you, it fair pulls your life into focus and the things that matter most become very, very clear.
All of a sudden I saw the folly of my hesitation over certain things, the short-sightedness of my tolerance of other things and the stupidity of trading in dreams for security. When you’re at that threshold (or you think you might be in the hallway that leads to the threshold), here’s what mattered most:
- The people I love
- The dreams and plans I want to realise
- The hope that I’d made some contribution to make the world a better place for my presence (which is really a combination of the first two)
That was it. Nothing more mattered except love, connection and contribution. Outside of the context of these three things money meant nothing – everyone looks the same in a hospital gown.
Love, connection, contribution.