No doubt, the CDC has some statistic that says that the odds of me being attacked and molested by a gang mutant jackals, dressed in Kevlar pajama pants, with whiskey on their breath is 90% greater than the odds of me dying from the H1N1 virus. This may be true. I will continue however, to view the events of the past week and a half as a near-death experience. I have a statistic for the CDC; last Wednesday evening, 100% of me was knocking 99% at death’s door.
If that seems like an exaggeration, it’s really not. In my life, I have been lightening struck, rattlesnake bit, survived a parachute malfunction that cost me a couple of years of my life, and been a life-long a Red Sox fan, so I feel adequately qualified to use the term near-death, and determine the context.
I have just done battle with an invisible swine. Not much of a battle really, the virus found me running on little sleep, scurrying within a maze of planes, trains, rain-blown Chicago sidewalks, hotel rooms, and it proceeded to raise me up and body-slam me right back into my own bed – end of battle.
I have been as humbled by the wit and severity of this virus, as I have been humbled by my own lack of fight against it. I got caught where I always get caught; hiding behind my own complacency – born from thinking that I am invincible due to my rigorous fitness regimen.
Somewhere between the delirium of Wednesday night’s cold-sweats, and Thursday morning’s burning-chills, I recall asking Patti to drive me to the funeral home “now” so we might save money on the delivery expense later – surely I was going to die. And there were still the Yankees to deal with.
I had originally intended to weave together a tapestry of metaphor and circumstance, that I might translate and share something profound or insightful about my experience with the H1N1 virus. I wanted to include the usual humor, fitness perspective, and religious body shots, but there is really nothing to share. No lessons learned, no personal experience which might translate well, that others might benefit.
This flu just sucks. H1N1 is the worst flu I have ever experienced. Aches. Heat. Cold. Weak. Dying. Bleak. These are the only words I can think of to describe those long hours in bed praying to be taken back. There was one moment in particular when I believed I was about to pass. I felt weak – could not reach to the table beside me to retrieve a glass of water. Barely breathing shallow breaths. Lights grew bright, but images around me more blurry. Transcendental. I felt I was just about to take my last breath, when Philadelphia pitcher Cliff Lee turned and back-handed a ball hit straight to the mound, as he continued to make the Yankees look like children. No, this would not be my time to die. I must live, that I might see the Yankees die again. Red Sox fan.
Oh, and there’s this: I eat better than most. I exercise more than most. I contemplate the function, and the possibilities of the fit human body more than anyone I have ever met. I bathe ten times per day in the concept of fitness, and pray to the altar of whole foods 6 times per day – always facing Boulder, CO. For all of fitness’ virtue, and all I do to promote my so-called fitness lifestyle, being in-shape did nothing to stave off H1N1, nor make it easier to live with – nothing!
Three weeks ago I had joked to a client;
“Swine flu won’t catch me, swine flu ain’t fast enough.” (Franklin Ajaye paraphrased)
Now I could argue that had I not been well conditioned physically, this virus might truly have killed me. Or, that I recovered more quickly due to the physical condition of my body. Maybe, but I don’t see it that way – not this time. All of last week, I was Yankee hitting, and H1N1 was Cliff Lee pitching.
As I contemplate life and death on this day of increasing wellness, and from surviving several near death experiences, I have learned one thing above all others; to truly live each day as though it were my last. Now that’s been said for millennium, and there is a certain banality about that statement in this era. Living each day though, as though it might be my last, might be the only thing I have ever succeeded in – it’s the ultimate Roy thing.
Wednesday night last week when I thought I was dying, I was grateful for every single day of my life – even the ones that sucked. I was grateful, even parked at death’s door, for every smile, every tear, every ounce of pain or torment I have ever felt, as well as for each moment of joy – and that I might see the Yankees lose just once more.
I am alive today and I am so damned glad because I may truly be dead tonight. Laugh with exuberance, cry with intensity, move with purpose, and enjoy every sandwich. rc