Possibly Reliable Medical Advice: Once Dead Always Dead?

Hello readers, it’s time once again for the next installment of Possibly Reliable Medical Advice from Someone Who’s Signature Resembles a Doctor’s. This semi-regular feature, by which I mean a feature that appears whenever I’m feeling doctor-ish, is one small way I can give back to my readers. That is, of course, if the indigestion and drowsiness you normally experience from reading my columns is not enough.

As always, make note that I am neither a medical doctor nor have I ever played one on television. The advice provided in this column is no more dependable than what you might receive from an Obamacare Health Insurance Navigator. It may be more coherent though.

Our topic this time focuses on a troubling question that has plagued mankind since the beginning of time: Is death permanent?

Q: I read a story about a guy in Ohio who was declared legally dead in 1994 but is still very much alive. Now he can’t get a court to overturn the death certificate ruling because there is, apparently, a statute of limitations on dying. How is this possible?

A: Doctor Frankenstein’s Medical Encyclopedia (published 1829 by Transylvania Press United) defines a statute of limitations as “a mere inconvenience, be it relating to death or crimes committed in the pursuit of something worthy of making a Hollywood film.” Apparently, Doctor Frankenstein measured death by some other standard. Perhaps Gene Wilder would know.

Q: So, is the Ohio man dead or alive in the eyes of the law?

A: That would be like asking whether or not the Grateful Dead was a legitimate musical act in the eyes of one Scott Joplin. Death is in the eyes of the beholder, as it were.

Q: Wouldn’t “Eyes of the Beholder” make a great name for a rock band?

A: Absolutely!

Q: Dear Doctor-type person, you still haven’t answered the question. Let me ask it another way: what clinical signs need to be exhibited for someone to be declared “still dead after decades of persistent living?”

A: Well, let me see. There would have to be a noticeable lack of breathing, heartbeat, and measurable brain activity. Unfortunately, those three symptoms open up the door to death certificates being issued to several Congresspersons, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and anyone who ever spent good money on an Air Supply album.

Q: Is cryonics possible, or is it just a fantasy?

A: Cryonics?

Q: Yes, the practice of freezing a corpse in the hopes of reviving it later on.

A: Whew, what a relief. When you mentioned cryonics my mind immediately thought of a cross between the Eurythmics and Devo, with a little Larry King thrown in for comedic effect. What was the question again?

Q: Is it possible to freeze a corpse and revive it again at a later date?

A: No. At least not until we make microwaves big enough to accommodate certain large-ish persons wishing to be warmed up at 2 minutes on high. We might also need to develop a microwave bag to prevent the contents of such reconstituted corpses from making a mess in the life-size microwave.

Q: Wasn’t Walt Disney cryogenically frozen?

A: No, he was not. That was a vicious rumor started by unhappy union bosses who wanted to portray Disney as someone who’s wild imagination came up with crazy ideas no one could ever fulfill.

Q: Hey Mr. Guy Who Thinks He knows Something about Medicine and Death, you still haven’t answered the question! Is the Ohio dude dead or alive?

A:  In my professional opinion he is neither. He exists in a world of limbo; a world occupied by the same people who were, and I’m not making this up, receiving federal heating assistance a few years ago despite the fact that their lack of noticeable pulse and respiration meant they had no real need for home heating any way. If you want to know more about that little tidbit, you’ll have to purchase my book.

Q: So that’s what this is all about. You’re only in this to sell books!

A: I’m sorry. What was the question again?

On that happy note, dear readers, we close this edition of Possibly Reliable Medical Advice. Just remember this: if a judge in Ohio says you’re still dead due to a three-year statute of limitations, that means you’re still dead. Feel free to enjoy a tax-free life and all of the Obamacare you can eat. After all, dead men don’t pay bills.

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