19 Lives

We are all going to have an end someday. Nobody gets out of her a live, they say. But sometimes you just never know when that is going to be. Sometimes in medicine, we see really sick patients, with heart failure and respiratory distress, and other organs failing. When patients with many medical condition are sick, it seems grim for a chance of turning around.


Once I was in a room discussing these things with a sick patient, another amazing, experienced doctor, (who has been here forever) came by. She knew him, because when you have lived in the same small town for thirty years, all the patients are your friends. Plus he is a pilot, who has flown for years, for years without a license–before it became mandatory. He has survived multiple crashes and other accidents, and she told me “he has 19 lives.” She came in when I was in there talking with him, and said, “You know things aren’t looking good and we are worried for you. And we are trying to get a hold of your family. In the meantime, is there anyone you want us to call?” How about Bob? She named a few older pilots who she knows are all good friends. He said no. And then she said, “well, we are worried, but then again, you have escaped death many times before, and you have 19 lives. So maybe you got another one in you.” He laughed. In his heavy-breathing-barely-responding-state, he laughed and looked relieved.
The next time I saw him, he was sitting up in his easy chair looking great. He was talking with his old pilot friends (the pilot who flew me to Wales), who told me the patient was like a brother.

They’re sitting in the room, telling stories, shooting the shit. Like old times. A dose of humor on a base of good old Alaska tenacity can go a long way.

I can’t tell you the amount of admiration and respect and awe I have for these old-timers. They have seen and done and been through so much! ❤️

Nose down

2 thoughts on “19 Lives

  1. Wow. Well, I really could not think of anything else to say but ‘wow,’ but wordpress said that’s not enough. Well wordpress, since you insist, I guess I could say: this is so poignant that I’m at a loss for words, beyond ‘wow.’
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