For the past few days I’ve been waking up with some mild, constricting chest pain and whereas before I would automatically assume “THYMIC CARCINOMA!”, it is now the virus that instantly comes to mind. Someone in the house would cough with a curt “EHEM!” and I would quickly switch from tambay mode to a med student doing a complete PQRST history (Provocative, Quality, Radiation, Severity, Temporal factors). After weeks of being a total loon constantly monitoring updates among the many, many Viber groups, I have now learned to limit the frequency with which I would check them, which I discovered is correlated with the severity of any of my imagined symptoms. And besides, many of these Viber groups I don’t even know why I keep. Most of these are hospitals or groups I am no longer affiliated with, but I guess I just don’t want the spectacle of “WILL HAS LEFT THE GROUP”. Frankly nobody in the group would really care if I leave, but I guess years of medical training has hammered in me the sense of presentee-ism or at least the pretense of such.
While in a bus in Tokyo two years ago, Uni-Horned Beef Jerky Alanis Whore and I were discussing the problems that come with suddenly dropping dead alone. How do you hand off your important documents to your nearest relatives? How do you deal with the taxes? Most importantly, how do you make sure that you don’t turn into nitrogenous liquefied gunk that would seep through the bedroom walls and attract all kinds of vermin first before somebody is notified that you’re dead? Uni-Horned Beef Jerky Alanis Whore was apparently thinking of a one-touch red-button app that you could frantically click before you die, which would automatically endorse your last will and testament to your loved ones/lawyer, and your patients’ case records to your preferred physicians. Whenever UHBJAW and I see each other we always talk about the inconveniences of death, and we always end up not really depressed, but stressed. Death is still, apparently, work.
|“full travel regalia”|
So for now while this app is still in the development stages, I’ve started drafting my own last will, testament, and endorsements. Whenever I file a leave for a one-week vacation, making a detailed endorsement of my patients already causes extreme anxiety, what more if I’m leaving… forever! Although COVID would probably not kill me in an instant like an aneurysm, it would be difficult to write all of these properly while I’m in the ICU isolation room and intubated. I wouldn’t want to trouble the overworked staff asking for a pen or a graphing paper, which would add to the fomites that will require disinfection.
In one of my more morbid and fatalistic Messenger groups we were discussing whether we prefer observing data privacy versus circulating an all-out novella complete with photos and screencaps of final conversations should we kick the bucket. I said they have my permission to tell everyone the entire story of my death and they could even include a photo as long as I look fantastic in it garbed in full travel regalia–none of those cropped group pictures while in a hospital conference luncheon, please. I guess talking about our own deaths so casually at a time when it could really happen is now an acceptable defense mechanism against this crippling collective anxiety.
|In Memoriam photo of choice. We’re going after
the “the virus saved him from a life of alcoholism”