On August 27th I came as close to dying as I ever have and it gave me a new perspective that I couldn’t possibly be more grateful for.
I haven’t publicly shared the entire story or my reflections yet, but I feel like it’s time.
That Tuesday morning was just like most, I was up early at the lake for an open water swim with a friend. It had been a beautiful swim, calm and peaceful. I love how swimming makes me feel. Serene and at ease.
Little did I know that was all about to change in just 15 minutes.
As I rinsed the sand off my feet under the tap a wasp stung me.
My friend looked at me and asked with concern “you’re not allergic are you?”
“No, I’ll react, but I’m not allergic. It’s all good. See you Thursday morning for another swim?”
As I pulled out of the parking lot (new audiobook playing), still mostly relishing in the calm from my swim and time with my friend, I only noticed a slight irritation on my hand and was feeling grateful it wasn’t throbbing too much.
I was feeling hungry and thinking about the day ahead, enjoying the energy of the authors voice and her witty commentary on life and being human.
Suddenly my heart started racing. I felt funny.
I turned off my audiobook as my mind began to race in cadence with my heart.
The voice in my head said: get home.
I continued to drive and monitor my symptoms.
My 20+ years of first aid training told me to be mindful.
A minute later my face felt a rapid flush and I started to feel strange – unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
I was 5 minutes from home but I knew home wouldn’t help me.
I was stuck at a light and all I kept repeating was “I need help, I need help, I need help.”
The light finally turned. I pulled through and pulled over. I turned off the car. I put on my hazards and called 9-1-1.
My vision was beginning to go. I was confused and having trouble communicating. It all happened so. damn. fast.
I knew this was not good.
I later found out there was a kind good Samaritan knocking madly on my window asking if I needed help. I was unresponsive to him. It was between his calls to me and my lack of communication that told the 9-1-1 dispatcher to get the Paramedics there – fast.
When they arrived my vision was black. I couldn’t see anything. I felt like I was in a tunnel. I could feel cold sweat covering my face. I was confused and having trouble speaking.
I was scared. So fucking scared.
The paramedic took my pulse. He couldn’t feel a pulse at my wrist (not a good sign: it means my body was in serious distress). He asked if he could remove my sweatshirt so he could take my blood pressure.
I later found out my blood pressure was 60/0. Normal blood pressure is in the range of 120/80.
They got me into the ambulance and gave me a shot of Epinephrine and got a line going for fluids and meds.
The waves of nausea, fear and panic were intense. I felt like I was in this weird thick fog of confusion with no control over my body. And an overpowering sense of doom.
It was terrifying.
The dreaded thought crossed my mind.
Is this it? Is this how I’m going? I thought about my kids and my husband. And then it was just a constant stream of NO. Not today. Not like this. NO.
I remember hyper-ventilating and the paramedic cuing me to take long slow breaths.
Are you kidding me? I teach people this stuff!
I realized I needed to calm the fuck down if I was going to get through this. Breathe in to the count of three, pause at the top, release.
You. Can. Do. This. Fight body. FIGHT. This is not my time. I am not ready.
All I could think about was my kids and husband at home waiting for me. Likely wondering where I was (and fairly assuming I’d gotten caught up in conversation and was running late).
NO. Not. Like. This.
A second shot of Epi.
I began to feel human again.
Beyond measure. Had this happened any other way, on any other day I may not be here writing this.
It’s not lost on me how incredibly fortunate I am. And I don’t intend to take that hefty dose of perspective for granted.
What I learned:
- Life is fragile – you never know when it’s your time. Show up in your life. Don’t let it slip by. Act with intention and give the important people in your life your attention. Be here now.
- The human body is resilient – if you give it what it needs. Don’t wait to take care of your body, take care of it now. Whatever that looks like for you. Do it.
- Trust your instincts – listen to those voices. They’re your intuition and they’re there to guide you. You know what you need. Trust and believe.
- Ask for help – and accept it. Don’t just “push through and get home.” Stop and ask for help the minute you realize you need it. Whether it’s medical attention or the support of a friend or coach. We’re wired to help and support one another. This connection and community is invaluable – life saving.
- Be grateful for each and every moment. You don’t ever know when it could be your last. Each day is a gift – use it wisely. It seems cliched, but it’s true. Live your life to it’s fullest and enjoy every minute.
Thank you for giving my life such incredible purpose. I’m grateful beyond words for the gift of following my passion each and every day. Thank you for being in my Super You Community and enabling me to live a life that inspires me to fight for. I’m humbled and grateful beyond measure.