To cut a long story short, I went with extreme and embarrassing and asked one of the shelter staff to get an ambulance. While he sat and waited with me I kept telling him to write things down--my brother's name, my e-mail password. "Write this down, this is important," I'd say. Important or febrile. Then I went to the ER, waited for about five hours, increasingly dehydrated and hungry and nutty in the head (but not particularly angry, because I felt that I was getting pretty much the experience I deserved), and got finally got looked at, then returned to the shelter. And then yesterday I filled my prescription for antibiotics and did a lot of lying around, hacking and encrusted with snot, confused and poking around in my head at the sensation of the experience as it faded.
It was a precise mirror of the positive experience I wrote about the other day, the childlike feeling that every moment of my life has been good and exactly right: the understanding that I'm going to die, the understanding that I'm alive and have been all this time, that every detail of life is real. I felt terror. I thought that I might someday have to end my own life before it ended itself in some long, drawn-out coccoon of trapped suffering. What I mean is, I recognized how it would feel to have a stroke, to be immobilized, to be handled and moved around without being able to express anything--what can't be suffered is. People suffer this every day.
It's hard to bear that thought. It's like blinding sunlight: you blink reflexively, putting a buffer between yourself and these feelings and realizations. A veil, to put it poetically, which I don't have a problem with. The veil of everyday life, Plato's shadows on the cave wall, the insertion of definition, the verbal.
It's all big and strange and I had to write it down. Now I'm going to eat something, and buy some VHS movies for the guys in shelter to watch, and read more Martha Grimes.