Life takes on a peculiar existential clarity when you realize, ten minutes too late, that you have absentmindedly swallowed a potentially lethal dose of your dog’s high-potency thyroid medication. As I tried unsuccessfully to undo my terrible mistake (without getting too explicit, suffice it to say that I am in no danger of ever becoming bulimic), my life flashed before my eyes.
I’m not talking about the part of my life that I have already lived, I was flashing forward to the part of my life I thought I was about to miss. Seeing my baby great-grandson for the first time. Finishing the house remodel, finally. Traveling across the country in an RV with my retired best-friend-hubby. Going on the Ride to the Vietnam Veterans Wall with him next Memorial Day. Sightseeing in Ireland, South Africa, Israel and Australia. RVing up to Canada to meet my best online friend, Maribeth. Finishing my book, finally.
I’ll admit that most of those trips aren’t likely to happen on our budget, although it’s nice to dream that they may happen some day. But surely, if my husband and I really put our minds to it, we could get our torn-apart house remodel finished. And driving out to the west coast to see my baby great-grandson is definitely doable – but only if I don’t die first.
Tearfully I told my husband what I had done, apologizing for the fact that I was probably about to die from sheer stupidity. “Th… th… thank goodness I took out that life insurance policy,” I sobbed. “But I’m s… s… so sorry that you will have to grow old without me.”
I really did believe I was about to die, because I had read somewhere that the margin of error between a therapeutic dose of levothyroid and a toxic one is fairly slim. It did not help that I had already taken my much-lower dose of thyroid medicine earlier that morning. When I realized that I had also taken Lady’s medicine, I looked at the label on her prescription bottle and in my panic I did not see the tiny period in front of the number. So when I totaled it up in my head, I thought I had taken almost one hundred times my therapeutic dose.
“I love you,” I cried as I paced the floor anxiously, wondering how long it would take for me to die and hoping it wouldn’t hurt very much. “I’m so sorry for being such an idiot. Please tell everyone in the family that I love them. Tell them how sorry I am for doing this stupid thing. If anybody laughs at my funeral because I died in such a ridiculous way, tell them I said it’s OK, tell them I would laugh, too, if I were them. Besides, I want people to remember me with happiness and laughter, not with grief and tears….”
“Honey, could you wait a second, I’m on the phone with Poison Control. OK, no, she wasn’t able to throw up… Right, she shouldn’t try to make herself throw up. OK, great, I’ll tell her… Honey, they say you are probably going to be just fine. You’ll have a lot of anxiety for a few days until the hormone gets completely out of your system. And you’ll probably have trouble sleeping for the next several nights. But other than that, don’t worry, you aren’t going to die. Oh, and you took nine times your dose, by the way, not one hundred times.”
* * *
A little over three weeks have passed since that scary time and I seem to be pretty much back to normal. Only one major thing has changed: I’m finally writing the book I’ve been meaning to write for years. I’m writing, even though the house is still torn apart and there are stacks of laundry and dishes and my To-Do list is as long as it ever was. I’m writing, because of all the things that I thought I would miss when the life-I-haven’t-lived flashed before my eyes, not having written my book was by far my biggest regret.
None of us are getting off this planet alive and we never know when – or how – our time is going to be up. If, like me, you have an unwritten book that has been burning a hole in your brain for years, but you keep putting it off until you “have more time,” understand this: You Will Never Have More Time.
So, how do you write a book? Sit down and put words on paper. Just write.
Once again, I am: @ladyquixote on Twitter. My pen name is Linda Lee. And my memoir-in-progress is entitled Going Crazy, from Horror to Healing.