Tuesday, March 20, 2012

For the Love of a Spleen

(Pre-Script: This post should be read as the song, " We Are The Champions," #48 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)
So there I was, feeling good and humanitarian about the fact that I am an organ donor, according to the sticker on my drivers licence. I am not an organ donor just because I want to help the world, but because I selfishly want my organs to go on living as long as possible. Who knows what parts of me are stored in, say, my liver or my spleen that, when placed in the body of a stranger, will turn that stranger into part me? There I am, walking around in Heaven, And suddenly that stranger finds himself in search of the perfect Red Velvet Cake recipe, or singing all of the words of all of the songs in the entire "Les Miserables" musical, including but not limited to mimicking each character, and carrying jars of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, bubble gum, rocks from his rock collection, and a bit of sea glass with him everywhere he goes; the parts of myself that are now a part of him. And now maybe you know why, if you had attended my funeral, the overall theme of the snivelling mourners had been "She wasn't too proud to love herself completely."
(Before you judge it, realize: By loving "myself," in this instance, I am actually loving whatshisface back to life and good health. All for the love of a spleen.
God help the person who gets my heart.)
Well, all of this was before yesterday, when the episode of "Fresh Air" on NPR found Terry Gross interviewing a physician who removes organs from people's bodies for organ donation.
*If you are particularly astute, you will notice that I did not say that she was interviewing a physician who removes organs from people who are dead. Apparently they are just brain dead. I was disturbed when the interview went something like this:
Terry: "So how do you know that the person doesn't feel any pain?"
Mystery Physician: "Pain is a higher brain function, so someone who is brain dead can't feel pain."
Terry: "But there are anesthesiologists there when you remove the organs, why is that if the person can't feel?"
M.P.: "Wohwohwohwohwohwohwoh"
That's all I could hear, so horrified was I by what I was hearing. The organ donors were not fully "dead," just declared medically "brain dead..." and an anesthesiologist was STANDING. BY. waaaaahhhhh!!
I am supposed to take his word on the authority that he is an "expert" in the field of organ removal. But what is itching my brain in that logical spot I can never quite reach to scratch, I can't help but remember that the Physician can only speak from THIS side of the scalpel.
If I were Terry Gross, my next question would be "Tell me, Physician, have YOU ever been brain dead?"
But Terry didn't ask that, I had to wonder and suffer in the silence of the confines of the oblong walls of my own skull, while Terry Gross took a commercial break.
I thought that was the worst of it.
But then he just kept talking.
And what he said next was "Sometimes they're not brain dead."
I think I fainted.
Or I would have if I wasn't driving at the time.
My body spared me the indecency of fainting in rush hour oncoming traffic I think solely because my subconscious mind was saying to itself, "if she gets hit by a car and doesn't die completely, but is only and only maybe 'brain dead,' we will be the only thing left of her and We. Will. Feel. Pain."
The end.

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