I had a memory from a week or two ago that I only now feel emotionally prepared to talk about.
I remember seeing my own autopsy as Phil. Specifically, I remember seeing my own brain and feeling a profound sense of despair as it was prodded, a very large blackish-red clot was found (in the right hemisphere if memory serves me), the brain was weighed (slightly below average weight, I seem to recall), and that was it. The brain that had been my conduit to the divine was just a lump of useless medical waste; there was nothing special about it.
The doctors performing the autopsy had never read my work and knew nothing about me, as far as I could tell. To them I was some old man who had died the way so many old men before had died, of a massive blood clot that had triggered a chain reaction and ultimately, heart failure.
And I think at that moment I was in such despair that I began to forget everything I had ever done or been, because it no longer mattered. I felt I had been cheated, I thought I would be whisked away to paradise when I died and I had welcomed the end… I had even opened the door of my apartment and staggered to the sofa so they’d find me just like the vision I had a few years earlier, slumped between the sofa and the coffee table. I thought my destiny was set and I let it happen on purpose. For what? Such hubris! Barry told me to get to a hospital, didn’t he?
I suspect neglect to injury is a kind of self-harm that has real consequences, in hindsight. I could have survived that stroke if I’d gotten to a doctor in time. I know this because I was well enough to drive home, open my front door, and get in position to make a grand gesture. I could have lived, but I decided to act out my visions instead and all I got in return was a front row seat to my own autopsy. No Valis. No palm tree garden. Just death, then another life where I spent 29 years wondering what the hell was wrong with me.
Next time, so long as I’m conscious enough to get help and medical assistance is an option, I guess I’ll follow what amounts to “due diligence” in the ontological sense. Once we are alive, we have an ontological duty to remain alive per se; Kant, you smug bastard, you were right after all.
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A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Don’t wait.