Things I want when I’m in a coma.

by K.W. Leslie, 17 October 2016

The subject came up recently. It's kind of a morbid subject, but honestly, you never know when you might wind up in a coma. I’m not expecting to go into one anytime soon; no, I’m not suffering from anything. But I know people who went from hale and hearty (or appearing so) to dead in very short periods of time. If I ever go into one, I should make my wishes nice and obvious. So I’m sticking ’em on TXAB. Somewhere, in the back of someone’s mind, they’ll remember I listed ’em here.

Here ya go. If I’m ever in a coma, this is what I want.

KEEP ME PLUGGED IN. Keep the feeding tubes going. Keep the oxygen flowing. I wanna live, dangit.

If I ever change my mind on that, I’ll stop trying so hard to live, and just die. So if I’m alive, assume I wanna be alive. Keep me alive. Don’t disconnect the food and air; that’s a nasty way to go.

I’ll make an exception if I’m brain dead. Then, obviously, I’m dead. Keeping my body alive, other than to harvest organs, means you’re struggling to let go, or hoping some miracle will bring me back to life—and y’know, you don’t have to wait for some miracle. I’m totally fine with being dead. I’ll be with Jesus; I’ll come back when he does. Relax.

Otherwise keep me plugged in.

KEEP THE MORPHINE COMING. This only goes for if I’m in pain. The times I’ve been prescription-strength stoned, I didn’t enjoy it. So if I’m not in pain, don’t dope me up. But if I’m in pain, or likely in pain, I’d rather be loopy than hurting, so go right ahead and load me up. I’m in a coma; it’s not like I’ll be operating heavy machinery anytime soon.

Speaking of pain: No poking, slapping, or otherwise abusing me in the hopes of getting a response. I won’t appreciate it.

IF YOU WANNA TALK TO ME, that’s fine. Feel free.

Talk as normally as you can. I’ve watched people talk to the sick, elderly, and non-responsive as if they’re babies. I don’t understand that; I think it’s condescending and a little bit insane; don’t do it. Don’t get weird on me.

Don’t just take advantage of the fact I’m non-responsive. Don’t try to answer or speak on my behalf, or presume what my responses might be. You should know me well enough to know I won’t always give predictable answers. (Often on purpose.) If I have to listen to a schizophrenic conversation between you and your parody of me, I’m not gonna enjoy it. Would you?

Do think about what you’re saying. Remember I’m possibly listening. There are a whole lot of things I really don’t wanna listen to. Like…

  • You monologuing. Put a time limit on your rants. Three minutes; no more.
  • People freaking out over what I might be going through. Or any other form of your inner anguish. ’Cause there’s not a lot I can do to comfort you, so that’ll just frustrate me.
  • Speculations about what I’m going through.
  • Stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily tell me. Do not pick that moment to confess sins, or deep dark secrets, or secret crushes on me, or tell me all the stuff you know I’d ordinarily shush you about. Like telling me about the weird stuff you dreamed at night, and what you think they mean. Like the latest goings-on of your friends whom you know I don’t know. (Or even suspect I don’t know, which means I don’t know ’em.) Like your End Times theories.
  • Deliberate attempts to lighten my mood. You already know that doesn’t work when I’m not comatose. What makes you think it’ll work now? I’m in a coma, for crying out loud; I’m as positive as a man can be with a tube shoved up his urethra.

Being non-responsive is sucky enough as it is. Please don’t inflict stuff on me that’ll turn my coma into a living hell.

THE TELEVISION. Don’t leave it on. If I want background noise it’ll be music, and if I want background music it’ll be jazz. Not loud; keep it low enough so I can sleep with it on if I’m tired.

If you wanna watch TV while I’m in the room, bear in mind what I like, or what I’ll tolerate. You know I like news. (You know I can only stomach Fox News in small doses.) Please: No sports channels, Congress, shopping channels, TV preachers, reality shows, Disney Channel, nor Game Show Network.

…Actually, you can get out my Monty Python DVD collection and marathon ’em. That’d be fun.

READING TO ME. Yeah, okay.

You wanna read the bible at me, that’s fine. You already know I’m not picky about the translation. Audio bibles are fine.

You wanna read books, go ahead and pull something from my library. (I already got rid of the stuff I don’t like.) If you wanna try one of your books, bear in mind the stuff I already read: I’m not gonna appreciate your Amish romance novels as much as you do.

You wanna have the kids read: Only if they’re any good. If not, keep ’em in reasonable doses.

By all that’s holy, don’t read poetry to me. (I make one exception, and that’s Shakespeare.) Especially if you wrote it. Even more especially if you wrote it about me.

PRAYING AND PROPHESYING. Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if people wanna come pray over me, and pray I come out of the coma. That’s fine. Let ’em take a shot at it. Who knows; they might succeed.

If they don’t succeed—if they’ve been praying for 10 minutes, and nothing’s happened—have ’em stop. If they insist on praying longer, that’s fine, but they can do it outside the room. When God takes that long before he cures people, it means he’s working on the petitioner, not the patient. I don’t need to hear all that.

If you don’t really know this person, give ’em two minutes. That’s all the time you need to figure out whether they’re a legitimate faith healer, or earnest but misguided… or neither.

If they prophesy I’ll be cured, but I’m not and die, make sure everybody knows they were wrong. Spread the news far and wide. Fake or presumptive prophets need to be held accountable for giving people false hope. They can do serious damage to people’s faith. So crack down on ’em before they harm anyone else.

OTHER MAINTENANCE. Make sure I get cleaned and rotated. I don’t want bedsores.

Make sure you don’t trim my hair and beard while I’m out. That way, if ever I do wake up, I’ll have that whole shaggy Rip Van Winkle look going for me. Hey, if I’ve gotta be in a coma anyway, may as well have fun with it. But do trim my nails.

Don’t draw stuff on my face. That should go without saying, but man are some people evil.

I expect for the first week or so, I’ll get a number of visitors. But over time people tend to lose hope, and the visitors peter out. That’s to be expected. Unresponsive people can be really boring. It’s fine; go live your lives.

Still, please have somebody pop in at least once a week, just to let me know people are making sure the nurses are tending to me.

WHEN I DIE. ’Cause I may not die while I’m in the coma, but I’m gonna die eventually. Everybody does.

So after I die, and after the doctors have taken whatever organs they can do something with, I want a Viking funeral. Put my corpse in a boat, apply lighter fluid liberally, push it out to sea, fire a flaming arrow at it, and watch it burn. It’ll be awesome. I wish I’d be alive to see it.

In fact, invite anybody and everybody to witness it. Strangers too. Take advantage of all the extra spectators and preach the gospel to ’em. ’Cause it doesn’t matter if my corpse burns up: I’m getting resurrected. So can they. Make sure they know.

I realize the city, county, or state may not permit people to do that to a corpse. That’s annoying, but I get it. If it’s the case, have me cremated in advance. That should take care of the legal qualms. Then do all the rest; flaming arrow, burning boat, gospel message. It’ll still be cool. Probably less stinky.

POLITICIZING IT. I’m gonna mention this because every once in a while some politician complains against the practice. Tell them to shut their yappers. If you wanna politicize my coma or death, you go right ahead. Get loud.

If I’m in a coma or dead because I was poisoned by unsafe food or medication, or got killed by an unsafe product, or some doctor didn’t do their job, or some healthcare insurer wouldn’t let my doctors do their job, make some noise! If I was a victim of a mass shooting, go ahead and scream about gun control. If I got shot by cops who went overboard while on duty, go ahead and scream about police unaccountability. If there’s legitimately someone to go after, I have no trouble with you going after ’em. (How am I gonna stop you anyway?) Go make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you, “Oh, that’s not what he would’ve wanted.” There’s lots I don’t want, but this absolutely isn’t one of them. I want some good old-fashioned social justice. Print out this article in great big letters and wave it at ’em.

Pretty sure I covered everything. If not, and there’s any doubt about what you oughta do… the safest bet is to assume you’ll annoy me. You might not, but best to err on the side of caution.

There is of course the possibility I won’t be conscious for any of the coma. Which would be ideal, but I’d still appreciate it if people would check in and make sure I’m getting washed and fed. ’Cause if I ever do wake up, I don’t wanna be emaciated and covered in sores. Eww.

As for all the guidelines about talking to me, they likewise apply after I’m dead. ’Cause you know how people get about talking to the dead. I don’t think I’ll be able to hear you from the afterlife… but who knows? Maybe God permits it.

Anyway, if so, I still don’t want people telling me what they dreamed, and what they think the dreams mean.