Sometimes when someone dies and they have red wine in their stomachs, when their heart stops, they are likely to vomit. When the red wine comes up it looks like a dark strawberry smoothie complete with fruit chunks and a very distinct smell.
Last night my fire company got an ambulance call for an unconscious male. When we arrived we found a 75-year-old man laying in bed in cardiac arrest. When I attempted to intubate him, his body decided to unleash the slurry of red wine from his stomach.
With the amount of red wine coming from this man stomach, it was impossible for me to intubate him. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital after continued unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.
The last thing he did before he died was drink some red wine with dinner and go to bed. I know nothing else about him. I don’t know what he did for a living, how many children he had or if he was a fan of baseball. All I know is that he had drunk some red wine.
I hope he was a happy man. Or, at least I hope he tried to live a happy life. A life filled with great memories of things he has done. I hope he was able to do the things he really wanted to in life.
Those are the same thoughts I had when my father died. I hoped he had lived a happy life, and he was able to do everything he wanted to with his life. Unfortunately, I know that a lot of his dreams were left unfulfilled.
My father always wanted to be a doctor, he was a very good mechanic instead. A doctor for cars I guess, but not exactly the same thing. I know that there were a lot of other things that he wanted to do also but the responsibility of earning a living and providing for family got in the way.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely appreciate all the sacrifices my father made for me and my family, but I still can’t help but feel guilty for all the excuses he made for not pursuing his life’s dreams. What would he have done if he lived longer than a day after his 50th birthday? Would he have studied medicine at night before he went to bed to earn his MD? Most likely not. He would have kept going to work well past his retirement age, at a job he didn’t necessarily hate, but one he did not love. He would have still been quoting his favorite expression, “life sucks.” Even if he had lived till the age of 200, knowing him, he wouldn’t have even tried to make his life into what he truly wanted. I do believe he was happy to have a family that loved him, and that he was very happy with how his family had turned out thanks to his parenting, but I knew deep down there was more that he wanted.
I would love to think that maybe eventually he would followed his dreams, maybe not become a doctor but some other dream. But, I know he wouldn’t have. His family came first, making sure we had a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs was his number 1 responsibility. Even after we all moved on with our own lives that would still be his top priority. But, what if he would have pursued his dreams? Would he have been happier when he died?
A few months back I had a pretty cool experience at work. I was able to save an elderly woman’s life when she choked on her lunch. All the training and the great work of my crew came together at that moment and we were able to give that woman a second shot at life. Too bad, she was well in her 90s, lived alone at a disgusting nursing home and was in advance stages of Dementia. If I had been given the choice who would I rather have saved, her, or the 2-year-old I wasn’t able to bring back, I would have chosen the child be given the second chance. But, we don’t get those choices.
A week later I got called to the same nursing home. When I walked into the room, the elderly women was sitting in her favorite chair smiling at me. I know she was not smiling at me because she remembers me as the man who saved her life, she was just smiling because at that moment she was happy. And some times you just have to be happy with those small victories. Maybe, she was smiling cause she can remember being younger and living her life to the fullest possible extent?
All the bad memories of lives I couldn’t help made pursuing my list more important to me. I want to be able to look back on my life and with all honesty say that yes, I am happy with how it all turned out. I want to be able to say, I did all those things, rather than recite all the excuses I made for not at least trying the things I wanted to do. It’s a lot easier to make excuses, I want to make memories.
What will you be able to say? Will you look back and say, “Life sucks?” Did you take full advantage of all the opportunities life gave you to be happy? Did you just make excuses? I can’t stress enough, you only get one chance at this life, make it a life worth living. Dance, love, make yourself uncomfortable some times. Whatever it is that makes you happy just go for it.
And, when your number does get called up, just take it easy on the red wine, your medics will thank you.
Thank you Papi.