On the Road to Find Out

Okay, here goes. Friday, on the ninth, my internet disappeared…..for days. I was so upset that I couldn’t spend my afternoons with you.

Remember when I was in the hospital a few weeks ago with this cranky chest pain? They couldn’t find a cause, the tests were inconclusive, I went home, yada, yada, yada. Well, guess what? I had an artery that was 100% blocked by not one but two clots. The heart attack began Friday, come to think of it, after the internet went out. But shit, a few weeks ago they said my heart was okay, so the damn chest pain I was having had to be something else. So Saturday, I watered half the garden like I always do on Saturday. Sunday I couldn’t finish watering because of the annoying chest pain. My companion finally said, “Should I be calling the ambulance?” And sweetheart that I am replied, “Do whatever the fuck you want.” Trust me, he didn’t deserve that, it was no Freudian slip or any such nonsense. So he called 911.

Let me tell you, my local paramedics should be featured in one of those calendars. Talk about eye candy. They have been coming here for years so we have a thing, a way we work together. But this time it was different. They would quietly and politely refuse to indulge my idiosyncrasies. “No Verda, we are doing it our way this time.” I conceded; and then I knew when the siren went on the Calendar Boys meant business. I arrived at the ER in record time; the cath lab team was waiting for me. Talk about drama, they were zooming around the room doing all kinds of things; it was something of a marvel….and with good reason. The doctor, a French-Canadian, says in a complex, melodious accent, “Verda, you are having a heart attack” I didn’t believe him….duh. So, they are doing their thing, maybe five minutes have passed and I feel suddenly a bit off. Thinking it was some preparatory drug they were pumping into me I announce, “I think I am going to pass out.” Well, I wasn’t passing out, I died and whoa, I went exactly where I thought I would go. I have since called it The Paleolithic Waiting Room.

I was standing in a cave that appeared to be a large volcanic bubble. Along the walls were smaller “bubbles” that I felt were individual chambers. It was clearly a ritual cave. Up ahead a small group of my relatives (not the genetic variety) stood looking at me. They were glorious, decked out in superbly dressed skins, complete with ceremonial deerskin masks. Their quivers and arrows were fancy, their spears were festooned with plumes and herbs. I was HOME!!! And then, woosch. Woosch? WTF?

A big, French-Canadian face was leaning in close and asking, “Verda, do you know where you are?” Admittedly, I was confused, and finally replied, “Montreal?”. [And I am thinking, dammit Verda, you missed your target by a few thousand miles; what a dope].”No, no Verda, you are in the ER in Santa Fe, NM. Where did you go?” I knew where I went but simply said, “A long way away”. Montreal continues, “We are taking you to the cath lab now.”

In the cath lab Montreal announces to me, in that confoundingly beautiful accent that I can’t really understand, “I cannot give you any anesthetic”, and then proceeds to cut into my groin. You can well imagine the profane screaming coming out me which is then answered by, “Shut Verda, shut up, I am trying to think” (don’t forget the accent). This went on for a while with my followups of, “Fuck you, I am paying the bill,” and other choice Verda-isms. And don’t forget, the damn heart attack is still raging.

Finally, Montreal says, “Okay Verda I have cleared the first clot and placed the stent.” (Poor baby sounded so pleased). Unmoved by that my screaming resumes because the heart attack hasn’t let up. “Shut up, Verda, shut up.You had two clots in the same artery I am going after the second one.” And just like that, the pain stopped.

The next day Montreal and I razzed each other unmercifully and laughed shamelessly about the entire event. I guess others respond differently, but shit, I was alive. Might as well rejoice. He asked again what I had experienced and again I was reluctant to speak of it (in a few days he asked a third time and I promised I would tell him when I saw him at the follow up appointment). Anyway, it was at that moment I learned that it hadn’t been the drugs, I had just plain checked out…..hence Montreal’s curiosity. Now it made sense. And the big woosch? …. the zapper paddles that demanded my return.

What I found the most profound was at that moment the Paleolithic Waiting Room was hardcore reality and when I came back I was dreaming. Just like the Castaneda stories teach, this reality is a dream. Perhaps because I had for ages an awareness of where I would go I wasn’t particularly gobsmacked. I was simply delighted that my adventurous mind had been right. The experience was not some glorious spiritual moment but a moment that made me exclaim, “this is so cool”. So I guess having made it to and experienced first hand the Paleolithic Waiting Room I imagine I will visit it from time to time before I finally head that way for good. And the bonus? Knowing this reality we often suffer is just a dream. How cool is that?




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Responses to “On the Road to Find Out”

  1. Beautifully written, courageous, clear, and intriguing. This is a valuable reading for us all. Thank you, Verda.