Thursday, June 06, 2013

Lethal Injection

‘While you’re waiting we can take your height and weight, and your blood pressure.’

I’ve just received the flu vax.  No sensation, no queasiness, as usual, and a wait of twenty minutes out by reception seems a bit pointless.

‘Well, my height won’t have changed.’  For some reason I’m feeling grumpy.

‘We don’t actually have your height on our records.’  Of course -  I’ve only attended this Health Centre for a couple of years.  The nurse’s voice hints that patients ought not to query things.  I ignore it.  She has a smile on, impersonal.  I get the impression that if it was within her jurisdiction she would prefer to give me a lethal injection rather than a vaccination. 

Grumpy.  I need to shake off something: nerves, an odd having-my-grave-walked-over sensation.  The night before, driving to a rehearsal for a play, I breathed in while eating a hard-boiled sweet.  The sweet stayed in my cheek, but some combination of mucus and saliva glued across my windpipe.  I lost the ability to draw breath.  I pulled over.  I thought how strange it would be to be found in a car, sitting upright, not breathing, eyes wide open.  I thought about how annoyed the people at the rehearsal would be at my unexplained absence.  I realised I didn’t have my cellphone on me, and even if I had had, trying to breathe was more important than making a final call.  I thought: this is a horrible way to die.

My brain fiddled with these thoughts, my chest cracked open in an attempt to find air.  No air.  Out of my experience.  

Cough!  Cough!

I forced myself to cough.  The mucus mixture broke.   Life returned to a post-possible-death normality.   
I don’t need a lethal injection.  I can die on my own, quite comfortably, thanks.

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