Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Art of Not Waiting

In my medical transcription profession, I have been introduced (through dictation) to many patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. It's amazing how they can go through that and lose over 100 pounds in a short time. I once read a book that discussed in detail what these people have to go through for the rest of their lives, eating small portions, taking vitamins, suffering some side effects, etc. The book's author wondered if it wouldn't be better if, instead of going through the surgery, the patients just started living as if they had (eating small portions). He said that since they would have to live on small portions the rest of their lives anyway, why not just "bypass" the surgery altogether? Could it be accomplished without the pain? Of course, it's much more complicated than that, but I did think about that this week.

It's been a week of deaths. Teenager deaths. Young adult deaths. Nobody that I know personally, but when you hear about deaths like these, you can't help but suffer emphathetically with the families, no matter what the circumstances.

At an MT web site, Julie posted about a car accident this week in her community that killed several high school seniors. Right after that, I discovered that a young man from Matt's graduating class was killed locally, just a few blocks from my house, when a drunk woman rammed her car into the back of his. The collision was so hard, he ended up in his own back seat.

It was a weird feeling to think that in the wee hours of Saturday morning, while I was asleep, this young man was in the wreck and died at the hospital where I work. Of course, I could be extra-sensitive to this kind of thing, because my brain reacts in unusual ways. For instance, whenever I pass a wedding party coming out of a church, my mind wonders how many people are attending or preparing for funerals somewhere else. And when I pass a funeral procession, I wonder how many people are decorating the church for their wedding or picking out bridesmaid dresses. In fact, when that horrible 9/11 was being broadcast on every channel, I was thinking, "This day will live in infamy, to quote FDR. Yet there are people who are giving birth today, others having 50th wedding anniversaries." I always see the dichotomy - the celebration amidst the grieving, and the weeping amidst the laughter.

The families of those dead young people this week were going along with their daily lives the way we all do - probably without a lot of thought, some vague plans, some hopes and dreams, some irritants, some arguments, and a lot of procrastination. Then their world was turned upside down and changed in an instant. All of a sudden, priorities are revised. Little things that used to bother them are dropped from the radar. The families unite, the community unites, and people begin talking about what's important in life. And the thought goes round, from family, friends, acquaintances, teachers, preachers, neighbors, all who are affected by the deaths - "This has made me wake up and realize..." Each person completes the sentence in a different way, but the acknowledgment is the same from each heart. "...that relationships are what's important in life...." "....that it's time to rearrange my priorities..." "....that we must hug our kids at every opportunity..." "...that the disagreement I had with my spouse/child/parent/friend is so unimportant in the scheme of things..." "....that we need to love fully and completely while we have the chance..."

So that's why I thought about the author's comment on gastric bypass surgery this week. I wish it didn't take tragedies like this to force us to prioritize our lives. I wish we could just do it in the first place.

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