Silent Bob is modest about everything except what goes on in his head

Kevin Smith had a major heart attack, and he talked about it from the hospital.

It’s all so familiar — I went through exactly the same procedures, although in my case it was more preventive than to deal with an immediate crisis. A lot of his responses sound familiar to how I felt at the time, except for a couple of things. The doctors were telling him he was dying, but his major immediate concern was keeping his underwear on, out of modesty. Nope, not me. I did not care. Strip me naked, I don’t mind, just fix me up. He was, obviously, responding with the notorious Kevin Smith motor mouth — he’s telling stories non-stop. Not me. I just go quiet under stress. That’s why he’s the raconteur, and I’m not. In the aftermath, he was quite happy that people who feared for his life were saying all these nice things about him. When I was in the hospital, mostly what I got was gloating hate mail from Christians and atheists; just recently I told my wife that when I die, she ought to just avoid the internet for a few weeks because it will be nothing but hatefulness aimed at my corpse, and as collateral damage, my family.

Otherwise, one thing that did bother me was he mentioned the response to Chris Pratt saying he was going to pray for him. OK, atheist world, there is a huge difference between people with power mumbling “thoughts and prayers” as a substitute for taking action to correct a problem, and a person who has no responsibility for action saying, as a gesture of good will, that they will pray for you. I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t believe for a moment that it would actually help, but it’s just a believer trying to be nice.

I know from experience that it actually is a heck of a lot nicer than the believers who cackle about how you’re going to burn in hell, or the unbelievers gleefully telling you they don’t know whether they want you to experience brain damage or die in pain.


  1. says


    I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t believe for a moment that it would actually help, but it’s just a believer trying to be nice.

    Yeah, I’ve had a number of people say they would pray for me since the cancer diagnosis, all of them with great concern and kindness, and I’ve simply thanked them. People often feel stone helpless in the face of illness, and fumble for words, any words, some way to convey they care, and that’s one of them. Doesn’t worry me, and it’s no skin off my nose if they want to pray. I joked with a couple of them that I’d appreciate a good word with Isis, and it was taken with humour.

    Making other people feel miserable doesn’t make me feel better, and so far, I’ve been lucky in those who have said they will pray for me leaving it at that. If it went further, I’d stop it.

  2. Oggie. says

    The doctors were telling him he was dying, but his major immediate concern was keeping his underwear on, out of modesty.

    After breaking my back and my ribs last year, Wife says that my main concern (under the influence of 45mg of morphine AND two doses of Fentanyl) was what the hell happened to my clothing? It was on the floor in the ER trauma ward. In shreds. We did save the badges, the belt, etc.

    but it’s just a believer trying to be nice.

    When my superintendent and the assistant superintendent visited me in the hospital that evening, both said that I would be in their prayers. I thanked them. Then we went on to the more important things — the paperwork.

    And, right now, I have, sitting on my computer, four bills, totaling thousands of dollars, of unpaid medical bills that should have been paid by workers comp.

    Not sure which was more useful — prayers or the paperwork.

  3. Ed Seedhouse says

    Having just gone through open heart surgery, I can say that modesty was absolutely no concern to me while I was in hospital. The nurses in the recovery ward have already seen anything I might accidentally show them and if they want modesty I think it was up to them to make it possible. Hospital gowns creep up and it’s almost impossible to hide the nether regions when you get out of bed at their behest.

    Now if I had, in some fit of craziness, tried to seduce one of them they would have slapped me down hard, as is their right and duty. Fortunately even right after surgery I was aware of who I was so that crap didn’t happen so far as I know, and I’m pretty sure I would know.

  4. Ed Seedhouse says

    I had someone ask if they could pray for me prior to the operation. I said “find” but demurred when they asked me to pray with them. An offer of prayer is, to my mind, an expression of a human connection and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Of course prayer won’t help me, but it might make the other person feel better, and I’m for other people feeling better.

    Asking me to join in is also fine if they don’t already know that I am a Dirty Old Atheist. At least this person didn’t argue about my preferences in the matter.

    The people who keep me in their prayers are also helping me in more tangible ways as well. If their prayers help them to offer me more tangible help that’s a good thing for all, or so I think. It’s not my business to change their crazy beliefs, I have enough trouble keeping my own craziness at bay.

  5. says

    And I’m with PZ & Ed on the modesty business. I have no use for it. The last place it concerns me is the hospital. I’m headed back into surgery today, and I sometimes wonder why they bother with the hospital gown in the first place. It’s not like it isn’t flapping open all over the place anyway.

  6. says

    Oh, I would like them to change their crazy beliefs, but I don’t think sneering at them for offering a bit of good will is a good tactic to accomplish that.

  7. sirsamvimes says

    This was from 2006… I’ve had another 12 interventions and 5 stents since….

    “The story so far. Our Hero (svelte, dashing programmer Andrew) faces
    yet another (his 10th) angioplasty procedure…..
    Dear Diary,

    7.30 The alarm goes off and I am catapulted awake. Thank God it is at
    least Radio 4. As a retired man I don’t do these times in the mornings
    anymore, it puts you under far too much stress.

    7.35 Brush teeth, trying not to swallow any water – the joys of
    having to starve yourself for 12 hours are vastly overrated.

    7.40 Take all my normal tablets (with minimum amount of water).

    7.45 Off I go to pack my overnight bag and wait for idiot younger

    8.00 Brother arrives to whisk me in luxury (in his van) to the
    Cardiac Lab. Brother is one of those optimistic people who like to set
    out early…

    8.20 Somewhat early (like over half an hour) I arrive at the unit
    and am greeted by all who know me (i.e. everyone), given two open
    backed gowns and left to change (for those not in the know you wear the
    second gown like a dressing gown… there’s nothing like the fear of
    exposure that you encounter wearing these gowns…

    8.30 Off for an ECG and 6 vials of blood.

    8.45 Sign consent form for additional plumbing (i.e. bypass) if
    things go horribly wrong.

    8.50 Asked by Kate, the unit Sister, if I could go over with some of
    the people, who haven’t had the thrill and fun of Angioplasty, what
    they were going to hear and see…

    9.30 Off to the lab (leaving a group of whimpering people – perhaps
    I was too descriptive?)

    9.32 The fun starts, there is nothing like laying naked on a narrow
    bed, with a nurse shaving bits of you that you don’t really believe
    should be shaved, that are then painted with an antiseptic wash that I
    swear they keep in the fridge (“Oh a lot a people say it’s cold” –
    wouldn’t that indicate that there *may* be a problem with it’s
    temperature?) to get the day off to a really good start.

    Sensors to monitor me are stuck on (at all the hairiest places on arms,
    legs and chest). Then I’m draped with a sterile sheet, with a cunning
    hole cut into it..

    9.40 Various bleeps, whines, movement of the bed I’m lying on, plus
    movement of the scanner head and the fact that screens all round the
    lab now read “ANDREW XXXXXXXX X9999” indicate to those in the know
    that something is about to happen.

    9.41 And so it is, Dr J Creamer (for some reason it is not
    comforting to have a doctor who’s initials are JC) enters the room to a
    storm of apathy.

    9.43 The equipment and bed start to move purposefully (and not
    before time they cry) and we start the first fun bit, cutting down to
    the artery.

    We start, thankfully, with a good shot of local anaesthetic… so good
    in fact that a jet of it hits me in the face. There is, you will not be
    surprised to learn, a problem. After so many angiograms and
    angioplasties the skin down there is mainly scar tissue and resembles
    elephant skin (no jokes please, I have heard them all)

    9.45 The music starts, music carefully selected by our doctor and
    meant to establish an aura of calm and comfort… His first choice?
    “Another one bites the dust…”

    9.50 Much muttering, pressure in the groinal area, various proddings
    and more muttering…

    9.59 “Houston, the sheath has landed.” The sheath is a plastic tube
    about 4″ long that sits in the femoral artery and allows the guide
    wire, catheter and any other bit of plumbing they feel like shoving in
    be passed up to the heart via another bit of ironmongery called a

    10.05 We start the day with pressure studies, so yet another piece of
    equipment is wheeled in. Sensors are passed up into the chambers of the
    heart and other parts of the coronary arteries and measurements taken.

    10.20 They then warn me they are going to give me a drug to constrict
    the blood vessels and that it may be uncomfortable and I might get a

    Well, the bastards lied. Uncomfortable means… Ohh, you know, not
    comfortable… this was like the worst angina attack I have ever had
    plus a horrendous combination of headache and migraine just to add the
    finishing touch.

    10.30 “There, that bit’s over”

    10.40 We do a few visualisations of the problem area (which turns out
    to be problem areas)

    10:47 “Mmmm, you seem to be sensitive to the dye”

    10.48 That means every time they give me a shot of the dye to make
    the arteries stand out I get angina, which means they have to give me
    GTN for that…

    10.55 More muttering (there was a lot of muttering)

    10.59 Radiation screen removed (there to protect doctors and nurses)
    and JC tells me that the blockage is a little more extensive that they
    originally thought and that he would be using stents. Oh Good…

    11.05 Muttering and pointing at screens as they work out were all the
    other (10) stents are..

    11.15 We are all happy now and implantation can start. Onward!

    11.20 I am not happy, I suddenly get tremendous angina pain, which
    won’t respond to the usual drugs and I start to move about – which is
    not “A Good Thing” as I can easily pull the guide wire and catheter out
    which would be “A Bad Thing” . Still, dimorphine finally puts a stop to
    it. Ahh dimorphine, the drug of choice….

    11.30 Restart and 2nd stent in place and things seem to be going
    better, mind you the pink hippos are damn distracting as they tap dance
    in the corner…

    11.40 3rd stent in, at least the elephant that wondered in looking
    for his friends went over and had a word with the hippos to keep the
    noise down…

    11.50 All done! We now have the simple task of sliding across to a
    trolley while making sure that I don’t move my right leg.

    12.00 And so into recovery.

    12.05 Were I am offered food and drink -Huzzah! – but I have to say
    it isn’t easy to eat or drink when stretched out flat on your back…
    and a nice dry turkey sandwich is not ideal, still the coffee was nice
    and they did have bendy straws.

    12.15 To my surprise I am moved down to the CCU for overnight
    monitoring (my surprise is that it has happened so quickly – due to the
    pain episodes I am later told, not that that they moved me)

    12.25 To my even greater surprise I am in a side room in solitary

    12.30 Surprise is no longer enough and I am forced to rely on
    astonishment as the ward sisters and staff nurses come in to greet me.
    I know I’m a nice chap but do I really stand out from the stream of
    patients that flow into this unit?

    12.35 Wired up again like a christmas tree (thankfully they don’t
    insert the thermometer – trust me you don’t want to know) but because
    of the pain episodes and my problems with the dye they are slightly
    concerned about my kidneys, slightly meaning that they stick a catheter
    in me to drain my bladder. Delicacy forbids saying anymore…

    The next 8 hours are spent laying, staring (to start with) at the
    ceiling and then as the hours passed my head was slowly raised and then
    I could almost sit up. Blood was then extracted, tested and the great
    removal of the sheath could take place, a quick squirt of local, a
    sharp tug and hey presto, you are gibbering like an idiot as they
    didn’t wait “quite” long enough… Still, it was out and we then only
    had another 4 hours connected to the monitor…

    but still connected to the catheter…

    One of the team stops by to see how I am and casually mentions that the
    stents implanted were of a new type, cost approx. £1500 *each* and are
    coated in a derivative of a cancer drug, meant to stop the artery wall
    from growing over. They are only used in the more difficult cases –
    should I feel flattered?

    So once more that triumph of social good the NHS has enfolded me in
    it’s bosom…”

  8. says

    As a personal preference, I wouldn’t want people to pray for me. And I want to live in a world where it is not considered rude to express this sincere preference.

    On the other hand, here it seems that it was not Kevin’s preference, it was just random people attacking Chris Pratt on Twitter. And that just seems like none of their business.

  9. unclefrogy says

    @8 thanks for that it reminded me of the mini series “the singing Detective”

    When I hear of someone’s “medical experience” I only offer them my thoughts.
    I have in the past gotten into fruitless discussions with friends over their interpretations of experiences , their adding the magical being as part of the experience. I now just let it go unless they come at me with it as some kind of argument for belief then it depends on who they are and what my mood is at the time is.
    uncle frogy

  10. says

    The responses to Chris Pratt’s tweet made me embarrassed to be an atheist. The hypocrisy of not wanting religion forced on us while in cases like this forcing our non-religion on two believers is ridiculous.

    The sad thing is that being embarrassed to be an atheist has been becoming a default for me in recent years.

  11. tacitus says

    I was once limping around a volleyball court with a sore Achilles heel, and at the end of the game, someone in the opposing team came up to me to ask what was wrong. When I told him, he asked if he could pray over it.

    Taken completely by surprise, I said okay, so he bent over, grabbed my ankle, and prayed quietly for a few seconds. If I’d have known he was going to do that, I would probably have said no, but it was well-intentioned, and he didn’t make a big fuss about it, so it was no big deal really.

    The only heart issue I’ve had thus far was when I started getting chest pains and then pains down my left arm. After a walk-in clinic said they could do nothing for me, but didn’t think I was having a heart-attack, I went to the local ER where a CT scan, two hours and three thousand dollars later, they said it was probably acid reflux — and it was. Oh, and the contrast dye gave me full-body hives for a few days, which wasn’t much up. First allergic reaction in my life.

  12. mattandrews says

    I got diagnosed with colon cancer in late January. I generally let the “I’ll pray for you” stuff slide, but I do couple it with “A donation to a reputable cancer charity would be cool as well.” I don’t read anyone the riot act (one nurse came really effing close), but I’m kind of up-to-here with the whole thoughts-and-prayers scene: partly due to Parkland, partly due to our current political scene, and partly due to my dad shuffling off in June.

    That one was particularly irritating because he died on my mom’s birthday, so there was a lot of “Oh, he knew that was the time to go because he’ll see your mom again.”

    I’m like “No, he’s in a semi-coma and prior to that, he was picking invisible fireflies out of the the air. He barely had any fucking idea what was happening.” Over the last eight months, I’ve really come to the conclusion, at least in my little corner of Hell, that when a huge tragedy/illness happened to you, it’s more about keeping everyone else calm than it is about you.

  13. Robert Serrano says

    If Chris Pratt was a cardiologist and was just offering “thoughts and prayers” I could see some people possibly getting offended. But he’s not, so “thoughts and prayers” are as good as any other show of moral support. Let’s also not forget that Kevin Smith (at least the last time I heard) is not an atheist. So what’s with all the offense on behalf of someone who did not feel offended?

  14. blf says

    My reply to the thoughts and preying is along the lines “Before you do so, please join me in making a cash donation to MSF” (Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders).

  15. says

    Caine, I’ve (slowly) come to recognize and appreciate the reality of your diagnosis. (I’m not good at that – bad medical news has great difficulty sinking in, and even when it eventually does I’ll often block it out all over again, leading to a terrible Groundhog Day-like recurrence of realization.) I know we’ve had serious disagreements and personal clashes over the years, but I’m very sorry to hear what you’re going through and wish you the best.

  16. says

    I’m reading photojournalist Robert Capa’s war memoir Slightly Out of Focus.* He volunteers to go in with the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day, and at a moment when further progress toward the beach would almost certainly be suicidal he shelters at a medical ship and helps to bring the wounded and dead on board. He starts taking pictures…”Then things got confused…” He goes unconscious and awakens later:

    I woke up in a bunk. My naked body was covered with a rough blanket. On my neck, a piece of paper read: ‘Exhaustion case. No dog tags’. My camera bag was on the table, and I remembered who I was.

    The existential rawness of that passage, especially given Capa’s own story, is breathtaking.

    * Recommended. He’s a fascinating person. Somehow manages to be deadly serious and touchingly wry in the same sentence. Photographs are marvelous and mesmerizing.

  17. methuseus says

    I just want to say how thankful I am that you are under the NHS; I can’t imagine what you would have to pay if you were here in the USA.
    Also, this probably shouldn’t have been an afterthought, I thoroughly enjoyed your prose and thank you for it.

    I’m not sure I have any pull with Isis, as my proclivities are more towards Odin and Freyja. Really, as you said, I’d love to be able to do something and feel helpless, so a tiny bit of humor is all I have to give at the moment.

  18. says

    mattandrews @ 13:

    I got diagnosed with colon cancer in late January.

    Welcome to the club! I’m two cycles into treatment, 3rd is coming up on Wednesday.

    SC @ 16:

    I know we’ve had serious disagreements and personal clashes over the years, but I’m very sorry to hear what you’re going through and wish you the best.

    Thank you very much, SC. I appreciate that more than you know.

    Methuseus @ 19:

    I’m not sure I have any pull with Isis, as my proclivities are more towards Odin and Freyja. Really, as you said, I’d love to be able to do something and feel helpless, so a tiny bit of humor is all I have to give at the moment.

    Hey, a good word with Odin and Freya is good too! I’ll take all the help I can get. If there’s a god of liver enzymes out there, I really need their attention. Humour is always welcome, it can be in short supply in Cancerland.