True Blood fans are mourning right now, and I’m worried about my heart.

My total True Blood viewing experience amounts to less than 10 minutes. It was too campy for me.

But I know who Nelsan Ellis is…er, was.

At least, by face. I don’t know of his work. He was always featured in the promos for the show, and I watch HBO for a few of its other original series. (No, not Game Of Thrones.)

So when I learned that he had died today from “complications with heart failure,” at 39 years old, I was taken aback.

Thirty-nine! For me, that’s less than three years away!

And I’ve been having these things recently, where my heart feels as though it beats a little faster for no reason at all, or a brief moment of lightness in my chest that I’ve never felt before.

It scares the hell out of me. This is the first I’ve mentioned it publicly to anyone.

We can’t see inside our bodies, and our inner workings and machinations are mostly on autopilot. (Imagine if you had to concentrate on breathing or digesting food.)

And to get a view of what’s really going on, our only recourse is to go to our doctor and tell them what’s troubling us, and they put us through the system. “Try these pills for 30 days and report back to me,” “Still the same? Let’s up your dosage,” “Not helping? Maybe we should try this medication instead,” and so on.

Why can’t we just get in the damn MRI or CAT machine from the get-go???

I want to get scanned for EVERYTHING.

I want a brain scan, so I can see for myself what’s happening to it and correct any issues before they become truly problematic.

I want an MRI exam to find out what, if anything, is deteriorating in my body, whether bones or tendons, ligaments, organs…anything.

But I can’t. It doesn’t work like that.

Well, then again, maybe if you’re rich.

The rich can afford a la carte medical services. The poor have to jump through all of the hoops — and if the GOP has their way, 22 million of us won’t have any hoops to jump through.

To that point, have you ever seen the movie As Good As It Gets?? It’s one of my favorites. Since it came out twenty years ago, I’m not worried about spoiling it if you haven’t seen it…

Helen Hunt plays a waitressing single mom, Carol, with a son who has a unique medical condition which her “fucking HMO bastard pieces of shit” doctors can’t pin down.

Jack Nicholson is Melvin, a rich, ornery, anti-social, best-selling author who frequents Carol’s restaurant daily for breakfast, and will only sit in her section — Melvin has a debilitating case of OCD, and everything has to be exactly as he expects it.

When he arrives at the restaurant one day and discovers Carol isn’t at work because she has to take care of her kid, he panics, and pays a busboy $20 to give him her address.

The next day, Carol arrives at home to find a doctor there, played by the late Harold Ramis. Ramis tells her that his wife is Melvin’s publisher, and that he was told to take great care of Carol’s son because Carol is urgently needed back at work.

Ramis hands his assistant a blood vial, telling her he wants the results back today (TODAY!), and then asks Carol if her son’s doctors have performed certain standard tests. She says she asked them to, but was told “it’s not covered under my plan and it’s not necessary,” which amazes Ramis, and causes Carol to spew the above quote regarding her HMO.

Carol asks if there is someone she can reach in Ramis’s office once the test results come back, to which he responds, “Me. My home number is on this card.”

His home number! When’s the last time you called YOUR doctor at home??

Finally, Ramis assures Carol that her son is going to be feeling much better very soon. When she asks about the additional costs, Ramis replies that they’ll be considerable, but that Melvin wants to be billed.

The bottom line: All it took for a poor, single mother’s son to get well was a rich guy’s daily routine being disrupted, and his subsequent (selfish) generosity.

I have no idea if Nelsan Ellis was rich, and I don’t know if he was aware of any issues with his heart. I don’t know what his lifestyle was, whether he had a healthy diet or abused drugs or whatnot.

All I know is that I read the headline today, and knew he died too soon, from heart-related issues.

That is one of my biggest fears: dying sooner because I didn’t take care of myself.

I do my damnedest to eat healthy daily, exercise regularly, sleep the right amount, etc. Still, I know death will come at some point, as it will for all of us.

But I don’t want to die at 39, or even 69, as Harold Ramis did. I want to live forever, experiencing everything the universe has to offer.

Nelsan Ellis’s sudden death is a reminder that we never know when it will be our time, and that we need to take care of ourselves and each other, and make an impact in our short time.

May he rest in peace.

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Let he who would move the world first move himself. — Socrates

Copyright © 2018 John Kay, All rights reserved.


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