Dodging Bullets

Bullets of mortality coming toward us increase as we age, until the one with our name on it arrives

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

I laughingly tell my friends that we keep dodging bullets as we age until the one with our name on it comes for us.

That’s what if feels like to me. Whenever our time to go and whatever the way we go is (the bullet with our name on it), we have to accept that this is coming.

This is easier to think about when I haven’t heard a bullet whizzing by head, feeling too close for comfort.

I had a scare when I was turning 50, which is 19 years ago. (Where did those years go?) 

I experienced some tingling and numbness on my left side. Multiple MRI’s, a spinal tap, various other ongoing medical tests and we had a result. My neurologist, a lovely man who I will be ever grateful for, showed me the results of an MRI. There was a spot on my brain, a lesion. Of unknown origin. Was it a brain tumor? Something else?

 We would wait for 3 months to see if it grew and acted like a tumor. If it was a tumor, I was told it was in an inoperable area of the brain.

I don’t have to tell you that these were the three longest months of my life, as I waited for the next MRI. I turned 50 during those three months. Not the happiest birthday that I ever had. I was definitely present and awake, I can say that. 

Fast forward three months and the next MRI. The lesion had actually shrunk. Great news! 

The eventual working diagnosis was migraine, that could cause spots on an MRI. Who knew?

I was, and still am, so grateful. 

And here I am at 69. 

Today I had the annual heater inspection happen. Something that I have done annually since I replaced the old heater system in my house three years ago.

They found a duct that had become disconnected. A duct that they could not touch, as it had asbestos. (My house is old, built in 1955). I was surprised that this had not been seen or mentioned before by all the inspections prior to purchasing the house, and with prior heater inspections.

The next step? Having a senior tech come to my house tomorrow to give me a more accurate estimate of what the solution will cost. (The young tech that was here today didn’t have the experience or knowledge to be able to do this.) 

What will this involve? First off, the Hazmat team, in all their protective garb, will have to come to remove the asbestos from all the ducts, including those under my house. Then the heating company can replace all the ducts. All. The. Ducts. 

The expense is something that I dread hearing about. And even more, the thought of the asbestos and wondering how much of that I may have inhaled and taken in. I briefly looked up asbestos poisoning. Not pretty. 

So here I am this evening. Sobered by this. Thinking about the bullets that I have joked about before. Thinking about life and how something gets each of us in the end. This is a bullet that is one of the potential ones with my name on it. Maybe later, maybe sooner, maybe not at all. Maybe another one will appear sooner. 

Once again, aging brings one of its gifts, its messages. Our time here is limited. We will die. We will succumb to something eventually. We don’t know, for the most part, what it will be. Some of us get to know sooner, with a diagnosis and the potential prognosis that it brings. Some of us get more surprised. Some of us get warning shots, reminders.

So, the lesson? The gift? To take the best care of ourselves that we can, with what we can. To realize that we are mortal. To remember that each day is a gift, that nothing is guaranteed. That we are lucky to wake up each day, to live another day. To ask ourselves whether we are doing what we want with each precious day that we are blessed enough to have. To live each hour, each day as fully as we can. To be aware of impending mortality, yet not paralyzed by the fear of it.

We don’t know when our bullet will come. And we can live up until the moment that it arrives. 

One thought on “Dodging Bullets

  1. Jo Just a heads up. There are a lot of smarmy, outright crooked HVAC companies out there who will take advantage and rip you off any way they can. Especially if you are a single woman living alone. My Hillrise house in Agoura Hills that we bought new in 1970 and sold in 2002 had asbestos covered ductwork. We made full disclosure and sold that house WITHOUT asbestos abatement without removing or replacing any ductwork. Asbestos abatement is NOT required for homes in California. An honest contractor can simply wrap and seal up any loose asbestos insulation that covers your ductwork. Understand that the INSIDE of your ducts is or should be metal throughout. Even in 1955 there would never have been any asbestos on the INSIDE of your ducts, where the air actually flows through. The company who installed your furnace 3 years ago should have inspected your ductwork at that time. Bottom line: Get a second opinion from a licensed and bonded HVAC company that has good, very recent YELP reviews. If you are afraid of having any asbestos in your home, by all means abate it. But for this kind of costly project I definitely recommend getting a second bid or opinion. Good luck in the meantime!

    Liked by 1 person

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