Saturday, March 24, 2012

Death Came Knocking This Week

Sure, I tend towards the melodramatic sometimes.
But then again, sometimes I'm so deathly emotionless that I scare even myself.

Tomorrow is my birthday. For some reason, I've long had a fear of dying at 35. I'm one day away from kissing that milestone goodbye.

But I almost died on Monday night, and it was so normal, so ordinary that it stunned me.

Horrible storms were rolling into our area and I rushed after work to beat them, but then found that my hubby & son- whom I had figured were safely nestled at home- had gone out to do some shopping. After calling them a few times to urge them home, I got busy cooking dinner. I wanted to make some gleefully-nasty Manwich, which I get a hankering for about once a year. Hubby hates it, so I cooked up the ground turkey and put some un-sauced aside for him as I coated the rest in Manwiched glory. I took a small crumble- roughly half the size of a dime- to sample as I continued to cook.

And that's when all hell broke loose.

That little piece of ground turkey- so very small- got caught in my windpipe. And I started choking. Violently.

And I was so very alone.

I was trying to force coughing. I was gagging. I was trying to perform self-Heimlich on the kitchen counters. I had a fleeing thought about the Mama Cass and the irony of a fat girl dying on such a small piece of food.

I was dry-heaving horribly, and yet still I could dislodge the piece. How could that be??

I was trying to stay calm, but I kept worrying about the boys coming home to find me dead on the kitchen floor. Just a few days away from 36. So close...

The coughing was so intense that I was seeing only stars at this point and I was drenched in tears and sweat.

But that was okay, right? Because, as long as I was coughing, that was good. Right? It meant I was getting air.

Except, it wouldn't stop. And that's when I started losing consciousness. I was clinging to the wall with what little strength I had. And even as I write this, it sounds so simplistic. I can't seem to capture how terrifying it was.

Just keep coughing. Just keep coughing.

It was my mantra as I struggled to stay awake, my body was so sore and exhausted at this point. And finally, huddled on the kitchen floor, it seemed like the worst had passed. I crawled up the side of the cabinets and hung over the sink, trying to calm my breathing.

Hubby & LM came home then, while I was still drenched and shaking. They stood, watching silently, as I gagged weakly and tried to clean up some of the mess. Hubby said something about me not looking good, trying to hide his disgust as the scene before him. He wandered over to the stove and expressed his dismay at the entree.

And I felt more alone than before.

If I had the energy, I would have been angry.

I stumbled towards bed and stayed there most of the rest of the night.

On Tuesday, my gag reflex was in rare form at work. Everything was setting me off, even looking at a cup of coffee. My throat was more than raw, it was shredded. I had a hard time talking and when I did, it was as gravely as an old man who indulged in a few packs a day.

I've been at work all week, of course, with my tea and honey and lemon. Trying not to talk too much. The allergies/sinus affection that I thought I threw off last week has returned with a vengeance and no amount of over-the-counter meds seem to tackle it. My lungs fill quickly and crackle as I breathe, and I rely on steam showers to loosen me up enough to breathe. My body aches, that heavy, tired feeling like when you have the flu. I suspect walking pneumonia.

There is more irony that I work at a medical school, and yet my health insurance doesn't begin until June. Surrounded by doctors, and doctors to be! But I have found hope that I may be able to pay out of pocket at a "minute clinic" at a local pharmacy. If I can't shake it soon, I'll be there.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'll be spending at least a chunk of the day at a fundraising conference here in town (strange, I think, to start on Sunday). Hubby leaves Monday morning for a week away for work, so it's just me & LM. It's frustrating, since I have a lot of work demands this week that I will have to take on as a single parent, but it's also a relief. Let's just say I need some alone time.

On Friday, I had to go pick up some samples for an upcoming event. I has spoken to the business owner a number of times, and while at her office I asked about the name of her business. That led to a really long talk, and tour of her business and some of her creations. Even when I don't share someone's passions, I am always so honored when they open up to share them. It's that meaningful kind of conversation that I really appreciate in life.

But what really struck me was when she started talking about Santa Fe. Her whole face changed, her eyes got dreamy, her voice full of passion. How much she loved Santa Fe, and yearned to go back. And I urged her to. Her husband is retired... perhaps she could modify her business to operate there?

It haunted me all day, how much this woman wanted to be in Santa Fe. Perhaps because she's at an age where I believe she should be able to live her dreams. But then I caught myself. What, exactly, is that age? Why not now? Why not me? Who am I to push others to do what I am not? And when will I feel that I can? Perhaps we ponder the cages of others, since we cannot fully understand our own.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Santa Fe.... How I love that place! I know why she was all dreamy-eyed. If my skin could handle living in such a dry place, I would be in New Mexico in a heartbeat. There's a reason they call it the State of Enchantment.

    How absolutely scary for you! It makes you realize just how fragile this body is, no matter how strong it may seem. I'm guessing you didn't tell WHY you weren't looking so great and he is not a mind-reader. But if you did, shame on him for taking it so lightly. I hope he makes it up to you in a BIG way on Sunday.

    Happy birthday, Birthday Twin! Much love flowing from the place to the east.