Our guest-blogger on this post is Holly Berry. I love her approach to life...she has already been at Death's Door so what if there are a few "not-so-sweet" moments in life? To her they are just temporary interruptions that in time, will pass right on by...
I was given a gift that few people ever receive. I got a 2nd chance at life.
I died in the Emergency Department of Small-town Regional Medical Center March 4, 1984. I don't remember arriving at the Emergency Department. I must have passed out sometime between the time my husband loaded me into the car and the 10 minutes it took to drive to the hospital.
A friend I've known since 1970 arrived for the graveyard shift a little before 11 p.m. As she kicked a spinal tap tray out of the way entering the big room, she saw a Respiratory Therapy Tech go flying backwards about 5' into a wall. Then the patient's back bowed about 6" up off the table as she had a seizure. That was when my friend made her way to the head of the table. She was thinking, at that point, "I really don't want to work on a patient this sick, this early in my shift." Then she saw the patient was me.
She stayed at the head of the table, all professionalism gone. All she could do was stroke my hair and whisper in my ear, "It's gonna be OK, Holly. Hang on."
About that time, the seizure ended, I stopped breathing and my heart rate slowed down to 30 then stopped. One of the other Nurses had to knock my Friend out of the way so the Doc could use the cardio-version paddles on my chest to get my heart back to a normal rhythm.
I don't remember any of this, I'm just relating what I have been told by some of the people who were there at the time.
When I returned to consciousness, 3 days later, in the Intensive Care Unit, my hands were tied to the bed rails and I couldn't talk because there was a tube in my throat. My hands were tied, I learned, because in the ED, when I was having trouble breathing, the Doctor had intubated me. He ordered a breathing treatment from Respiratory Therapy.
While it was just the RT Tech and I in the room, I , for whatever reason, probably because I was about to seize, felt something in my throat that, in my altered state of consciousness seemed to be choking me, and sensed the presence of another person, extubated myself and when she leaned over me to grab my hands to stop my pulling the tube out of my airway...I grabbed her with one hand, while I was lying on the gurney, picked her completely up off the floor, and threw her backwards 5 feet into the wall.
I understand, now, why people died from pneumonia before the advent of antibiotics. On March 3, I'd felt like I might have been coming down with a chest cold. On the morning of the 4th, I felt a little feverish and asked my husband to look after the children while I took some aspirin and went back to bed.
Twelve hours later, I was literally at Death's Door. I didn't know how sick I was becoming during the day. My husband, normally an excellent Emergency Department Nurse, didn't recognize any symptoms.
Pneumonia can still be a killer today. If I had arrived at the hospital a few minutes later, I would have stopped breathing and my heart would have stopped beating in the car. Then, I wouldn't be here to write this story.
I am still grateful, 24 years later, that I was given a second chance. I savor all the sweet experiences in my life. The not-so-sweet, I just let roll on by. I know they are just a temporary interruption that will pass.