The Woman Who Came Back to Life

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I’ve had this fear of being in a car accident and waking up days later in the hospital with no memory what happened other than getting out of bed the morning it happened. How weird would that feel? Would I be scared or relieved that I couldn’t remember the harrowing events of a wreck that had me unconscious for days?

On Friday night, September 16, I went to bed and don’t remember anything until Tuesday, September 19; however, the cause wasn’t a car accident. Undiagnosed sleep apnea sent me into cardiac arrest around 4:15 am that Saturday morning. Danny called 911 and the operator gave him directions for CPR. The paramedics showed up and took over for another half hour. When they wheeled me into the emergency room, I was in ventricular fibrillation.

The doctors put me on a ventilator, kept me sedated, and lowered my body temperature to stave off any further damage; however, no one knew how long I had gone without sufficient oxygen. No one could say if I would come out of sedation as my normal self or without the ability to walk or talk.

The fact that I’m here on the blog writing about it obviously tells you that it all came out okay. The truth was, I more than “okay.” I was sitting up and talking pretty much the same day I came off the ventilator — three days after the cardiac episode. The next day, I had a heart catheterization through my wrist (Through. My. Wrist. Y’all. Science…) that came back clear. The day after that, I had a procedure to insert a defibrillator that went off fine. Throughout my week in the Cardiac Care Unit, I had nurses coming to my room who had seen me the night I arrived, and after I was in a regular room, other nurses visited who just couldn’t believe how well I was doing:

“You’re not supposed to be sitting up and doing this well, this soon.”

“I just had to come see you for myself.”

“I can’t believe you’re the same person.”

The Human Pincushion

If I had a dollar for every time I heard those statements, I could pay off the hospital bill. The words “walking miracle” get thrown around, and I’m completely uncomfortable hearing it. The day before I went home a 6-year-old boy was shot along with a teacher and another child at an elementary school in a neighboring county. He did not get to become a “walking miracle.” He died four days later. A former coworker’s 12-year-old daughter who went in to the hospital during my stay is still there fighting for her life, trying to beat a scary illness affecting kids all over the country. Last week I stood in front of a college friend, held her hands, and wept with her over the loss of her husband, feeling guilty that I was still here and he wasn’t. What makes me so special that I get to be the one who gets to walk away?

A couple of friends and family have commented on my Facebook statuses that they can’t wait to see what I have to say on my blog about the whole event. Honestly, I’ve been sort of stumped about what to say.

There are not enough words in all the languages combined to express the wealth of gratitude I have felt for family and friends who turned the CCU waiting room into a can of sardines, the ones who came and kept me company and saved my sanity, the ones who sent flowers and food, the staff who went above and beyond to take care of me, the EMS workers whose quick work helped increase my chance of survival.

The general agreement of all who’ve had knowledge of my case is this: in the moment Danny considers most terrifying was also the most fortunate, because the noise I made that woke him up had to have been the exact moment I lost the ability to breathe. His jump to action kept my time without oxygen to a bare minimum. Many of us say that our spouse saved our life in a figurative sense. I get to say that my spouse literally saved mine. However, he will tell you what he told a friend of ours; he actually saved his own.

The first thing I remember after Friday night was that Tuesday, when I reached for something attached to my face and then someone taking my hand and telling me I was in the hospital. I was trying to pull out the ventilator, something I attempted with such persistence that they had to tie my hands down. After I got home, I went back and read Facebook posts that gave updates on my condition and detailed what my family was going through.

I am relieved to not have memories of what went on while I was out of it (except maybe flipping my mother the bird when she commented on my barely there toe polish). I can’t imagine their fear. Perhaps I had the easiest job of all in trying to get better.

Music is often my catalyst for change, and I heard this song today by one of my favorite bands, Foo Fighters. It sums up where I am right now.

Grocery Shopping

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Him: What’s the ricotta for?

Me: I’m going to make pasta-less lasagna with zucchini instead of noodles.

Him: Pasta-less lasagna? That’s like God-less religion.

Patient Zero

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Today on the way to lunch:

Me:  So I told Mom I was going to skip tomorrow.

Him:  What’s tomorrow?

Me:  I was going to go with Mom to take Nanny out to lunch, but I just can’t say that I’m completely passed this cold. I just don’t want to risk spreading germs that can get back to Dad with his chemo and all.

Him:  Yeah, don’t be Patient Zero, Carla. Nobody likes Typhoid Mary…

Because I So Rarely Get One Over on Him

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Yesterday morning, while getting ready for work…

Him: So they’ve discovered a new element.

Me: They did?

Him: Yeah, it’s called Element 115.

Me: Ah

Him: It’s the heaviest element on Earth.

Me: Really?

Him: Uranium used to be the heaviest. It’s got 92 protons around its nucleus. This one has 115.

Me: Oh…

Him: Well, to give you an idea? Lead and gold have 82 and 79 protons, so this one has almost 50% more.

Light bulb pops on in my head. I’m surprised he didn’t hear it.

Me: So which weights more, an ounce of gold or an ounce of Element 115?

Him: An ounce of Element 115… (pause as he looks at my shit-eating grin) What?

Me: No, they’re both an ounce.

Him: Oh whatever… I should have known. YOU asking a question about SCIENCE.

Me: Hey, I’ve gotta take my chances to get you when I can.

2012 in Review

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A cold, rainy day here in Upstate SC provided the perfect opportunity for me to look back on my 2012. All in all, it wasn’t as eventful as 2011 but not nearly as sucky as 2010 — or 2008 for that matter — but I find myself comparing years to 2002. For some reason I look back on that year as a great one — perhaps because I was finally writing on a full-time basis and we had just bought our first house. Things just seemed more promising — although things aren’t bleak right now. I don’t know. I suppose I spend too much time comparing years instead of trying to make the current one the best it can be.

When January 2012 began, I really thought we were in for a lousy year. Our 11-year-old shepherd/collie mix, Domino, had just been diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, elevated liver enzymes, and diabetes. In the first two weeks of the year, we dropped at least $700 at the vet. Yeah, happy New Year to us. Combine that with my dark-thirty toilet demolition on New Year’s Eve, and I pretty much decided to just go stick my head in the sand until December 31st.

But we bought a new toilet tank, and Domino’s liver enzymes stabilized in February so that we wouldn’t have to fork over $200 for those meds every two weeks. Plus we all got the hang of the twice-daily shot routine, so things started leveling out nicely.

At the end of March, despite the lack of training, I did my second Cooper River Bridge Run — which I vowed never to do without training again, especially since I might have to toss a bitch into the Cooper River.

It took me until April to actually post on here again — and even then, it was a blip of a conversation between Cinlach and me. I’m trying to change that frequency, but more on that later.

I hit the big 4-0 in May and celebrated with a party at a local pub. Some friends came, we had drinks, we played Rock Band, and we almost burned down the bar with my cake (kidding!). I think a good time was had by all. And then the next week I came down with my first verifiable case of food poisoning. One of my friends (this chick) and another coworker took me out to eat for my birthday and let me pick the place, so I chose one of those hibachi places. Here’s a fun fact you might not know: Rice has a naturally-occurring toxin that is released if not cooked/stored/reheated properly. Who knew? I sure didn’t, and apparently the hibachi restaurant didn’t either.

I’m still wary about rice, and I haven’t been able to go to another hibachi place since. It’s not that I’m necessarily afraid of getting food poisoning again, but you know, once that comes back up on you, you just don’t have the appetite for it.

We went to the Heroes Convention in June — its 30th anniversary — and Stan “The Man” Lee was there. We didn’t pay the buttload of money to stand in line to get a pic and autograph, but he did show up to the artists’ auction on that Saturday night.

In July, I finally sat down and gave a real post: a tribute to my friend Carmen, who had passed away in December 2011.

Also that month, I delved deeper into geekdom and started doing some D & D type role playing stuff. Right now, the coolest things about it are painting the figurines and collecting the neat-looking dice.

The hard drive to my iMac died in August, but luckily, I have a back-up external drive and an Apple Care plan. So I didn’t lose too much stuff, and there was no charge to replace the hard drive. Ironically, two months later, I received an email from Apple about the hard drive issue that encouraged owners of iMacs to go ahead and back up their stuff and go get a new hard drive. Thanks, Apple.

August also brought a few tense weeks for us in that the company Cinlach worked for was not renewing their contract with a huge client, so we didn’t know who would pick up the contract and if he would have a job with them and if he did, would said job be here in town? Lots of hand-wringing and back-up plans being made.

But in September, the new company was announced and decided to hire him — as well as keep operations in town — so we dodged a bullet. That same month, I signed up for several fall 5k events to start training for the Cooper River Bridge Run. My first event was the Race for the Cure; I finished in 1:04:49. I felt pretty good about that since I’d been walking diligently for a couple of weeks.

I kept improving in October with the Upstate Step Out to Stop Diabetes, finishing in 52 minutes, and the Spinx Run Fest, finishing in 57:50. Also in October was the International Day of the Girl, which I observed with a letter to my 15-year-old self.

In November, we went to see Kevin Smith at the Peace Center, and we had awesome seats on the second row. He says he’s coming back this year, and the husband and I plan to be there again — thoroughly enjoyed his stories. During this month, I also ended my freelance gig with LivingSocial. Well, I actually didn’t, they ended it and hundreds of other freelance gigs (no doubt in an effort to conserve costs). On the one hand, I’m gonna miss the money. (Boy, am I gonna miss that money.) But on the other, it did take up a lot of time from my own writing — whether for this blog or for my own fiction.

December brought one final 5k, the Furman Flatlander, which I finished in 57:24 — thanks to help from Kaylin and her urging that we beat the whiny girl who kept lagging behind her mother. My husband and I also celebrated our 13th anniversary. We went to a lot of hockey games. The world didn’t end. And the holidays flew by in a blur.

So here I sit on January 1st, the last of my eleven days off — the longest streak I’ve had since being laid off in 2008 — plotting and planning for my 2013. I do plan on posting here a lot more often now that I don’t have daily deal copy for LivingSocial, and I ‘d like to build this thing up more. A few years ago I had quite a few regular readers and commenters, and then I got slack and things just sort of dropped off.

I leave you with a video slideshow of some of my favorite 2012 photos. Happy New Year, y’all!

Pillow Talk After 13 Years

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It doesn’t happen every day, but every once in a while, I get a zinger in…

A couple of weeks ago, after turning out the lights to go to bed but continuing to playfully argue back and forth about shutting up and going to sleep, Cinlach proceeded to let out a loud fart.

HIM:  Ha HA! How does that sound?

ME:  Like everything else that comes out of your mouth.

Why I Don’t Like Volunteering to Drive

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Sunday, 9:45 am

Me: You want me to drive or do you want to?

Him: It doesn’t matter.

Me: Okay, I’ll drive.

Him: Vagina rock it is.

Me: It’s not all chick music.

Him: You’re listening to WVAG… Vagina rock, all day every day…

Me: Shut up…

Him (switching to deep gravely announcer-esque voice): Sara Bareilles, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Adele…

Me: I hate you.