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November 17, 2005

Be Prepared for ''Thy Will Be Done''

Tom McLaughlin

There is no such thing as a mild stroke. It's like saying a mild tsunami or a mild fatal gunshot wound or a mild suicide bomber. When someone calls you and mentions the word stroke, be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

What it really means is that your life and the person who had the stroke will change forever. Mom came home from the hospital and then the very next day Dad had his "mild" stroke.

Mild means his left arm and leg are paralyzed and he can't walk or stand and eats drooling food. He can talk out of a corner of his mouth. He is now in rehab where nobody, I mean all those people with hundreds of thousands of years of college degrees behind them, can tell you what the hell will happen next. Your life is on hold and everyone, including the guy with the stroke, is scared to death. Whoops, I mean manure less.

Now, both my parents are invalids at the same time. I have met so many doctor's I should open a Mercedes dealership. I am on first name basis with the Para Medics. They have a key to the front door. They bring doggie bones for the puppy.

All I have to do is open the front door and they ask which floor of the four-story townhouse, praying it's not the top one again. All of the emergency room people say "Hi, Tom: back again for free pair of no skid socks?" or "Like the food here that much?"

Then they ask a battery of the same questions over and over again. They ask the absurd "what if questions". The first is "What if your heart stops beating, do you want us to put paddle on you chest attached to battery and yell CLEAR!?

What if you stop breathing? Do you want a gorgeous buxom lady to give you mouth to mouth? And the final one: What if you can't eat, do you want us to run a tube down your throat to your tummy so we can pour liquid liver and fish down it?

Now here are some really important things you need to do derived from my experience. Make a living will. Then tell somebody where you hid it. Don't leave it with your lawyer because you will probably be at death's door at the most incontinent time possible, like a Saturday night and his office won 't open until 9 a.m. Monday morning. If he's sober.

If you want to be loved after death, memorialized in stone, have people request Congress to declare a national holiday in your memory, tell them not to restart your heart; not to get you breathing again; and not to shove a tube into your tummy.

If you want to be scorned, your grave spat upon and make everyone miserable except the doctors, who will dip greedily into the Medicare fountain of money, say yes to the above. You are not that important to earn the nick name Lazarus.

And remember "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" regardless of the choices you make.

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