Friday, September 7, 2012

I almost died

{the scene of the crime}

With all the confusion around here I forgot to mention I almost died the other day.  Not kidding.  I pictured the headline:
Forty-two Year Old Wife and Mother Dies Running
There are plenty of scary running stories circulating out there where people (women) do die and mine in no way is an attempt to trivialize any of them.  People are abducted and killed, victims of hit-and-run accidents, mountain lion attacks in California and states of the like all the time.  But who has ever heard of someone running and choking to death?
I'll set the stage by saying I have a bit of reflux and had had a particularly heartburn-y afternoon.  I skipped the Prilosec that I forget regularly and am mad I have to take because I am just that stubborn and stupid.  I went running anyway (what could be the harm?) and somewhere around mile 2.5 a foreign object launched itself up and down the exact wrong way and lodged in my windpipe.  I gasped, I coughed, I made a god-awful high-pitched airway-blocked sound that I've only heard described in my CPR classes and was coming from me.
I panicked.  I couldn't get the air in.  I felt like with every muscle in my entire body I was trying to drag in enough air for a wind-tunnel through the tiniest of pinholes.  It took every ounce of effort I had just to breathe.  My throat tightened, my head felt like a balloon ready to burst as I gasped and coughed and made that life-threatening sound and tried to wretch and couldn't and squeaked and desperately, desperately gasped for air.  Awful thoughts raced.
I was on the trail behind our house, hidden from view and didn't have my phone of course because...I was at home!  I began walking as fast as I could toward the house but knew if I didn't get my airway clear I'd pass out before I'd make it to the house.  The kids would find me blue.  My husband wasn't home.  I didn't want to die.  I knew I couldn't go to sleep.  I had to stay calm.
In a split second I thought about all of the patients I've worked with who've aspirated on their own stomach contents or things they've swallowed and shouldn't have, but this was happening to me.  I'm not an 85 year old stroke patient.  I'm young, I'm healthy.  This should not be happening.  What  would people think?
It was a scary and tense several minutes of body-wrenching gasps to try to get as much air in without blocking my airway completely so I could force out whatever was lodged with cough after cough.  I thanked God I could still move air.  I was pissed my body wouldn't throw it up, whatever it was.
Clearly I survived.  I squelched the impulse to text my husband and best friend.  I didn't want to freak them out.  I saved my little story for dinner conversation when we all met up later that night.  They were a little disturbed.  More than I expected.  I haven't told the kids and won't.
I realized during and after the event that it's much more terrifying to watch something awful and life-threatening happen to another person, especially someone you love dearly than it is to be in the situation yourself.  There's something about the visual, movie-like helpless quality of being the voyeur that adds drama and sheer terror.  Perhaps love's got something to do with it too.
"What'd you do then?" my friend asked.
"I made it to the house, I recovered, I waited till I was breathing normally and stopped shaking.  I drank some water and finished a four-mile run".  She was surprised.
What was I supposed to do?  Roll over and have a pity party?

No comments: