A couple of years ago I had myself my very own near death experience. I was a heavy smoker who picked up the habit wwaayyy back when I was like, 13 years old. BAD. I chain smoked.
I was also overweight and in poor health. I had recurring bouts of bronchitis and pnuemonia that I never went to the doctor for, because, well, I couldn’t afford it.
Then, I got a chest cold, it turned into bronchitis and pneumonia and after a week of being severely ill and delusional with fever, someone finally talked me into going to a urgent care clinic. By the time I was seen by my doctor my skin was blue.
I was rushed off in an ambulance to the hospital.
Now, I remember being loaded in the ambulance. From there, things get sketchy. I faintly remember my top being cut off and IVs put in. I vaguely remember snapping at people for touching me. (Remember, I have a thing about personal space…I DO NOT like to be touched, even if for life saving measures.) From that point, I don’t remember much at all.
I remember a glimpse of seeing my daughters back standing not too far from me, I was in a different room. Then nothing.
Then a VERY cold sponge bath woke me briefly.
Then, one day, I opened my eyes, looked around, tried to talk but couldn’t. There was a tube down my throat. My room had no door. It had a clear wall with a view of the reception desk or nurses station. I tried with all my might and was able to raise my arm and wave. The nurse out there saw this and came in. I have no recollection what she (or he for all I know) said, but then I was out again.
The next I woke, my throat was sore, my muscles were weak, I was oddly tired and fatigued, and my family was around me. Well, two of them. A doctor came in, talked to me a little, talked to the others and I was told to rest. I watched a little television.
Then I started to complain.
Please make a note…I AM THE WORLDS WORST PATIENT! I hate hospitals. I will beg, plead, barter, negotiate, trade, sell my soul, ANYTHING…to get out of the hospital.
That’s when the doctor agreed to take me out of the ICU and into a private room. That was also when I was made aware that I had been in a coma for nearly two weeks. One week induced, one week my body had just given out. When I had arrived at the hospital, I was in full respiratory arrest.
So that was two weeks of my life that were just…gone. I can not really put into words what a strange feeling that is. Two week, unaccountable for.
I spent another week in the hospital. Complaining about being in the hospital of course.
My mother asked me all kinds of questions, because she is intrigued with the whole ‘bright light’, ‘seeing angels’ and a ‘tunnel’ thing that near death people sometimes see.
I saw nothing.
My older sister, however, who is a respiratory therapist, said I was on what is referred to by ICU nurses as ‘Jesus Juice’. It pretty much disconnects your brain from your body in a way. You don’t feel the pokes and prods they do to you and rest. Not to say your body doesn’t feel it, its just your brain doesn’t care, and it doesn’t wake you.
Now, being in a coma for two weeks (and longer) takes it toll on your body. You would think it was a healing thing, right? Well, other things happen. Your muscles atrophy. You wouldnt think two weeks would do a lot, but let me tell you, my legs and arms were so weak, and once I was allowed to start moving around, I needed lots of help. AND THEN THERE WAS PAIN! Once back at rest, those unused muscles screamed in pain at the sudden usage. It was horrid.
I was placed on oxygen (for the rest of my life, though just at night with my CPAP), I lost over 100 pounds, I eat healthy, I get regular flu and pneumonia vaccinations and I see my doctors regularly. I am a picture of health today. I rarely get a cold. The most I suffer in the last few years is hay fever, which is seasonal, of course.
I have COPD, forever.
But to me, the most disconcerting thing about the whole ordeal, was the loss of those two weeks. It stays there, in the back of my mind. Two weeks. Gone. Poof. I keep journals, so having two weeks of nothing is just…well…it drives me crazy. What could I have done in those two weeks? What daily events could have happened?
I take much better care of myself now. I chronicle everything. Even the trivial and mundane, because to me, nothing is really trivial or mundane anymore.