True Story: I Died Six Times in One Day
"Yes, really," I say.
And then they want to know every single detail, especially if I went to "the other side."
I always thought death was for everyone else, not me. But on that sweaty August day in 2001, the end of an exhausting first week of high school classes where I was an obsessive, loving, self-driven teacher, I did, in fact, die.
It had been one of those days in which there had been no time for lunch, a bathroom break or even a slurp of water on the run. And at home, the piece de resistance -- my ex-husband. I have to say that he was instrumental in saving my life, but contrary to the adage that one is responsible for those one saves, he chooses to ignore any responsibility whatsoever.
My ex was helping my daughter remove my new dryer, which I was giving to her, and moving in my old dryer from the shed. Seeing my daughter and ex together -- powerful personalities separately, but emotional bazookas when together -- was taking a toll on my weary, sleep-deprived psyche and my dehydrated, hungry body. I had what I thought was a small asthma attack.
What had actually happened is that my heart had stopped in what was later diagnosed as cardiac death. I do not blame anyone or anything for what happened. I had an "electrical problem," which I thought were reserved for cars (and dryers). I was wrong. After having been pushed by my perfectionist brain for so many years, I think my body just finally gave up, saying, "Enough. I quit."
Among the things I remember before losing consciousness: My daughter had gone to the shed. My ex was lying on his side on the floor working on the back of one of the dryers.
As I stood in the middle of the "dryer room," I had a faint indication that something was wrong. Air was not coming into my lungs. My understated last words: "Something's not quite right."
My ex-husband wasn't listening, as usual, and perhaps didn't hear me drop to the floor, "mostly dead." I remember very little of what happened after that.
My ex was startled to find that I had slid across the hardwood floor and had crumpled against his back. When he turned around, he saw that I was solid blue. He had taken classes in CPR, and worked to start my breathing, but my heart was in a state of defibrillation, and there wasn't much he could do.
I remember seeing my daughter's face close to my left eye. By the movement of her lips, I knew she was yelling "Mom!" over and over. But I couldn't hear the words. I wanted to speak but couldn't, and involuntarily my eyes drifted away from her.
The mercy about dying is that because one loses oxygen to the brain, there is no fear or pain.
A rescue worker happened to be off-duty in his work vehicle only minutes from my home. When he arrived, I was completely "dead." Pupils fixed and dilated. No pulse. No nerve response of any kind.
The rescue worker brought my heartbeat back with shock paddles, of which I have no conscious memory. My daughter remembers, and was traumatized.
By the time the regular ambulance had me safely inside, my heart had stopped and been revived again. But on the way to the hospital, a most unfortunate occurrence: one of the workers intubated a breathing tube into my stomach instead of my lungs. The result? For about eight minutes, I was receiving no oxygen. I was pronounced D.O.A. at the hospital.
A cardiologist there, however, was determined not to give up, and after several more attempts to revive me with shocks and stabilize me long enough to put me on a respirator, he finally succeeded. He did warn my family that I most likely would not survive, and that if I did, I would more than likely be a mental vegetable. On some days, I actually do feel that way -- kind of like cauliflower, or rutabaga.
A rhythm specialist implanted a Medtronic device, both a pacer and defibrillator, to keep my heart on a steady course. On "returning" from my coma -- by force -- I did know what planet I was on, what a "planet" was, that I had a daughter, what a "daughter" was.
After many extremely annoying questions -- I wanted to go back to the comforting dark of sleep -- someone asked, "Who is the President of the United States of America?"
From deep within the innermost core of my being, something growled with primal rage. Witnesses say I wrinkled up my entire face and spat out with disgust, "George ... W. ... Bush!"
Another doctor asked, "Senior or Junior?" Again with disgust, I replied, "Junior!"
Whether Republican or Democrat, the whole room wildly applauded, and there was laughter. Someone yelled out, "She's still in there!"
I didn't get what all the noise was about. I passed back out into my cocoon of darkness.
But I would live. And that would be, as it always is, the hard part.
Around the Web
- What Drives Men Away and What Attracts Them - YourTango
- Bill Clinton: It's Still the Economy, Stupid - The Daily Beast
- Do You Want to Know When Your Friends Run Into Your Ex? - The Frisky
- Would You Marry Someone Who Didn't Have a Job? - The Gloss
- And the City That Has the Most Sex Is ... - The Stir, CafeMom
- 3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Makeup Sweat-Proof This Summer - BellaSugar