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Death Knocked. And I Had to Answer.

7:30 AM, Sunday morning. Click any image to enlarge.

Yesterday was the first time in my life I can remember knowing that I was about to die.

Forgive me if this post is overly emotional and sentimental and not very polished. Yesterday was an unbearably stirring day for me to say the least, and I want to write about it while it’s all still fresh in my (currently narcotic-laced) mind.

On Friday evening I picked up Brandy Girl, along with two of my best friends AJ and Tobi. We were headed to Las Vegas for a weekend of senseless pleasure and fun. My throat had been fairly scratchy for the 24 hours previous, but nothing horrible. I thought maybe I was experiencing some sort of small allergy or something. By the time we pulled into Vegas six hours later, my throat had gotten much worse. I could no longer deny that I was coming down with something.

Not wanting to put a damper on anyone’s vacation, I purchased all sorts of cold and throat remedies, determined to fight it off. Nothing helped the throat. That night we met our bigger group for some roulette. By the end (and after a nice puff of cigar smoke right in my face from a stranger), my throat was in so much pain that I could hardly function, and we all went back to our hotel for some shuteye.

At dinner, Saturday night.

I didn’t sleep much Friday night, with my throat the way it was. Still determined to not let it hurt the trip, I spent all of Saturday doing whatever I could to get on top of it. I even took some old Lortabs which I take on my travels with me in case I get a kidney stone. They didn’t even phase it. We met the group for dinner that evening and I did my best to smile for photos, even though all I wanted to do was go crawl into a hole and pass out until it was all over. After dinner, Brandy Girl and I headed back to the hotel while everybody else went dancing and back to the casinos.

I don’t know that I slept at all Saturday night. The moment I would start to doze off, my throat would constrict and I’d find myself unable to breathe properly, which would then cause me to cough violently, which would then cause me to hurt even more. At six AM I was sitting on the sofa in our room, praying for ten o’clock to roll around so that I could head over to the local Urgent Care.

I never made it that far, though.

At eight, I tapped Brandy Girl on the shoulder to wake her up. “I need to go to the emergency room,” I whispered. “I can’t breath.”

My breathing had become very shallow and was literally getting worse by the minute. At the rate my throat was constricting, I was afraid I wouldn’t make it even 30 minutes before it clamped shut completely.

And I was right.

We grabbed my car and zipped over to the nearest hospital which was only a mile away. We pulled in and didn’t see any emergency services, and so we asked some paramedics that were walking by. That’s when I really started having problems. My breath disappeared from me. Each tiny attempt at a shallow breath was more like a round of gasping ammunition, counting down the moments to my expiry. The paramedics jumped in their ambulance and had us follow them to the other side of the hospital where the emergency room was.

And that short drive around the hospital was the first time that day that I knew I was about to die. No longer able to get any air into my system, I suddenly experienced what staring death face-on is like. I didn’t see any way that I could possibly survive it.

That was a very interesting moment. It was one that will poignantly haunt me for the rest of my life.

And in that moment, I could think of only one person.

Noah.

I’ve heard it said that when death stares you down, your life will flash before your eyes. But it wasn’t my life that was flashing. It was Noah’s. Literally.

I was flooded with sadness as I watched the pain he would have to go through losing his dad. The confusion. The hurt. I saw him playing on the playground in elementary school. I witnessed his first dance, his first kiss, and his first true love. I saw him graduate college. I saw him get married. And I saw the pain that was there inside of him all along the way. I saw the way losing me would affect him and haunt him for life.

And it was unbearable.

As we pulled up in front of the Emergency Room, I’m sure Brandy Girl looked at me and thought I was crying because of the pain or the panic. But the pain and panic were the last things I was thinking of. I was bawling (as much as one can bawl when they can’t breathe) tears for my son and for the life that I just saw without me in it.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

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236 comments
heatherraegreen
heatherraegreen

I just got some bad news today after my ultrasound on my neck yesterday.  It's been a hard night for me and I came across you post by accident-I don't even know I was on facebook just thinking.  Anyway I had to talk to my 12 year old and I don't really know what is going to happen.  Life is short, very short.  I am glad I treated everyone whom I came accross in my presents well.  

driven873
driven873

I came close? once when I was choking on a hot pepper/juice. It was the SCARIEST thing ever! For the first time EVER I couldnt speak I just ran to my bf with my hands on my throat! It only lasted maybe 10 seconds? but seriously felt like an hour. somehow the pepper and the juice from it came out  and I started coughing saying im choking! But that was obviously after the fact but I was just scared and in shock. I honestly just panicked and didnt think much. I am so grateful that for some reason what I was choking on decided to come out.

driven873
driven873

What caused that to happen to you??

CarolBall
CarolBall

My moment of this was Sept of 2011. I was fighting with my ex and he grabbed me by the throat and held on until everything started to go fuzzy and grey. My only thought was that my 10 year old son was going to walk into that kitchen and find mommy dead on the floor. I wasn't scared for me, but I was terrified for what that would do to my babies. I left right after that and haven't been back since. The divorce will be finalized hopefully next month.

gb5
gb5

I'm glad you're ok! I had almost the exact same thing happen to me several years ago, definitely one of the scariest moments in my life...

quaryn
quaryn

I've been watching Game of Thrones lately, and young Arya Stark's swordmaster has a really good line:  "There is only one god that matters, and that is death.  And what do we say to the God of Death? 'Not today.' "  So the next time you find yourself staring Death in the face, think of Noah, and repeat to yourself, over and over: "Not today."

BenjaminHutterer
BenjaminHutterer

 @ilik2BGoofy Whatever the case may be, don't be making people feel overly sore in the arse.  It's quite painful, emotionally, when you see how you yourself may become insulted by some random comment someone else posted about ya.  Anyway, I better get going.  Cheerio!

ilik2BGoofy
ilik2BGoofy

Brandy girl wasn't there for you dude...sorry, I know that must make you feel really bad.  Your ex-wife probably would have had you in your hotel room, giving up the bed to you, calling the nearest pharmacy, telling the pharmacist all about your ugly symptoms, she would have listened intently as the pharmacist gave her his educated guesses, she would have demanded that you were too far gone you needed help now, then the pharmacist would have recommended the best doctor situation for you circumstances, and she wouldn't have tried to use you for her own selfish pleasure until she knew you were fully recovered.  She's no that into you, Noah would want his Dad to be happy with a woman that would take good care of him.  In sickness and in health.

 

BenjaminHutterer
BenjaminHutterer

I never had allergy attacks, though I do know of a few people who have.  I am very sympathetic towards your brief inability to breath.  I once (or twice) fell on my tailbone and couldn't breath for upwards of three of four minutes.  It felt like forever.  Anyway, by the time I got my breathing back, my chest hurt like heck.  Though I think I might have suffered a couple minor concussions along the way.  

 

As for the present, I wish you all the best, and hope for you to get better.  If this bout of sickness is indeed an allergy, get it tested.  Do not wait unless you are waiting for an answer from a deity that doesn't really exist other than within yourself.  Do yourself a favour: get better, get checked, do something to entertain yourself other than lying around in bed.  I know you may be depressed as you are feeling very ill, but exercise is as great a healer as is a healthy diet.  

 

As I said before, get well soon, dude.

Lori Johnson
Lori Johnson

Great post, thanks for sharing so honestly! I'm glad that while there was regret about missing parts of Noah's life, that ultimately you found yourself at peace with who and where you are. You're right, such realization is quite a gift. Rev. Lori :)

Bellarose
Bellarose

I'd love to hear about the difference between who you were two years ago and who you are now and the reasons for the change. Maybe long-standing readers understand the reference. I don't.

H-l Rankin
H-l Rankin

Count your blessings. My "children" are a Lab and a Siamese. If something happens to me, odds are they'd be impounded and executed. (I have left instructions but they do not have the force of law behind them).

Russ Zosimus McFall
Russ Zosimus McFall

Thank you Dan for sharing this time in your life, I am so sorry you got sick, but I also appreciate your revelations. Thank you! Prayers of healing lifted in your name!

Michelle White
Michelle White

Thank you, Jennifer Schmidt Taylor for the post. I was hoping someone would be brave enough to post that.

Heather White Douthit
Heather White Douthit

Okay, Dan,so next time see a doctor BEFORE Noah's life starts flashing before your eyes! Do take care of yourself for his sake! Glad you're okay!

Jenny Johnson
Jenny Johnson

So glad you are OK now but I'll echo the question.......what happened?? Allergy? Asthma?

Jennifer Hanson Closson
Jennifer Hanson Closson

How scary!!! So glad you are OK.... Thanks so much for sharing your story, thoughts, and feelings. We had a similar moment last week (that has changed our perspective on life and how we now look at things)... Hubby had a procedure and they found a mass... We had to wait for 48 hours (of hell) to know whether or not it was cancer.... (THANK GOD IT WAS NOT) For that amount of time I kept picturing my three kids without a Dad, and how terribly that would affect their lives.... It was a horrible place to be. I had every thought imagineable... And cried almost non-stop (except for when I was around him or the kids and I ~had~ to keep it together).... Could SO relate to your post this week....

Anne LoBue Harvey
Anne LoBue Harvey

Glad you recovered. Will you tell us what caused the problem or don't they know?

Melissa Gleaton
Melissa Gleaton

@hannah you can't get much more of a warning than "Death knocked, and I answered". Sheesh.

Stefani Williams
Stefani Williams

Your story really moved me... thinking about my own son, and what I would be thinking if I were in a similar situation. I don't even know what I would think, but I'm positive it would be about my son. I'm glad you're feeling better.

Jay Sonavich
Jay Sonavich

I'm glad your feeling better, but it seemed a bit overly dramatic and a tad narcissistic. If you could "say" your not breathing, well you are. maybe men really do turn into big babies when they are sick. I don't want to take away what you learned but Gees.

Jr Benefield
Jr Benefield

That certainly seemed shocking; I would hate to have the sensation that I could not breathe. Your grim retelling made it seem even more awful, even more frightening in detail. I can remember a time that I had resigned to die. I was swimming in an Olympic-sized swimming pool and had swum to the center of the pool when I was seized by a cramp. My first instincts, frankly, were panic, dread, and horror. The pool was located at an indoor facility on the campus of the university I was attending. It was early morning, and there were no other swimmers or other people in the room, even. After panic and fear, somehow--and I must tell you that it is a bit of out character, as I am usually given to nervousness--I was overcome with a sense of calm. There was no "life flashing before my eyes" moment, just calm resign that I was going to die. I was swallowing water and flailing about before the calm registered. But after the calming sensation settled, I knew that if I could just make it on my back, I could float for a little while, until the cramp subsided. Again, this dawning was out-of-character for me. But, alas, I floated for a while, and when I felt the cramp had left, I swam out of the pool. It was not as cathartic for me as for you, obviously. I am glad that your thoughts centered around a positive sense of self. But I'm sure the thoughts of not being in your son's life and the toll it would take on the course of his life were unfortunate. Luckily, though, you have a chance to appreciate him more and be around for those things you feared you would miss.

Rebecca Champagne
Rebecca Champagne

Happy you're feeling better! I know the feeling! I've had allergy attacks where they tell me I'm fine and leave me in the waiting room, all the while trying to convince someone that I can't breathe and that I'm almost positive I'm dying. No fun! Quite frankly, terrifying! Glad it turned out to be a thought provoking experience for you!! xx

Ruthie Blackwell
Ruthie Blackwell

young man, I am so sorry this happened, it is scary, I am 67 yrs old and have been in your boots several times....1971-1975 I went thru 8 surgeries pertaining to a problem that I was born with but in my young days ...born 1944, I was 27 at the time and had 2 young kids too, dr's cutting on me everytime I turned around plus my liver blocking when it chose to and that was often...so many trips to emeregency for pain shots for the incredible pain, living in the hospital....got a break and was pretty o.k. till a couple of years ago...still getting around doing my own cleaning, shopping etc....had heart surgery i6-3-2010 and I just went back to dr today, had to have neighbor, have been in a manic/panic attack for almost two weeks can hardly walk, have fallen, sick at stomach, having shaking all over and lots of other problems and the breathing , trying to get as you said, a slow, shallow breath just to not die...take it slow and easy and hold onto something to keep from falling if you can...I am on so many pills, can't do anything and my provider doesn't show up half the time and I take coumidin to keep my blood thin so it doesn't get too thick to go thru the aoratol stent...went to my sorry GPtoday and he showed me a drug screen that had some things I have never had in my hand...I smoke herb and I tell every dr up front I smoke pot and of the about 7 none of them, including george have said don't stop, just stop the cigarettes due to copd....this screening showed the THC, of course and and benzodiazepine, don't know what that is, one I don't remember and the topper was hillbilly heroine, cant't remember right now, you know ..senior moment ....I have not done those drugs, not been around them...I smoke pot...simple as that and will continue until I decide not to ...4:20 here now....he accused me of dr shopping , doing all kinds of S*** and I have only gone to the drs he sent me to....I went to my cardiologist last thursday and told him about the way george is when I go in and that is at least 2 times mo..I got up and was toe to toe and told him " if I decided to shoot heroine, I wold tell you , damn, I'm 67 , old enough and woman enough to tell you if I had....I dont' have to hide anything...'cept the herb....I have been so upset, he told me I was jumping around too much when I was trying to tell what was happening to me, took a notebook paper , front and back and he took a glance and did not acknowledge it at all, just the drug screen......back to the jumping subjects, I told him I just told this is about day 12 of this manic attacks, you're a octor , you should know with a manic attak you will do that , dr stokes , in a manic attack your mind spins out of control......I wil close and read the other 2 pgs of your blog, I am talking too long but that's the Texan in me, I guess..........I read your blog on I think, it was, I'm a christian....you have a very good grasp of our language and know how to twist and say things in the right way to make people read it....and I caught a guy trying to scam me for money and credit card#...he needed to get money for his lttle girl, and he was in cairo.....I knew from the word go what it was and being me and being me in the throes of the manic attack, I wanted to get him on f/b and let everyone see...I started with "Danger Will Robinson and for seveal days I would post with that trying to alert my f/b family to be sure to read and show them what "Sexi Texi" can do and watch her play, I finally got him on f/b Saturday and a lot of my and my daughters friends that some when they went to elem. school..they called her saying I was losing it and she pulled it up and said Mama, whats going on, you are sayin crazy thngs to a man and there is no man there, I said......did you push continue reading and she did and the last I heard was Good Lord and she hung up..I had gotten him off chat and got him on f/b ....copy and pasted and it was all over the pages, he said his name was Justin Dean so spread the word......I will try to share it again, just like to have fun....they call me " Sexi Texi" and always laugh and like the way i put things...they thought I was just old and stupid enough to fall for his scam and I showed them.....I think I deserve a gold star of a biiig check...money is always good, chedk out " my stoopid mama" and tell me what you thing....

Ruthie Blackwell
Ruthie Blackwell

I am old, I am sick, I am not stoopid...........enjoy you and get well fast my new friend......ruthieb[email protected] and by the way I will not send money !

Donna Seehorn Glass
Donna Seehorn Glass

I haven't had the near death experience, but I did face surgery that definitely had it's serious risks. Almost four years ago I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Brain surgery is scary. I knew I might not wake up, so did my husband. So for the few weeks before my surgery (I asked the surgeon if we could wait until my sons had finished their final exams), my husband and I did the fun things we keep saying we're going to do but never seemed to have time to do. I would never think that brain surgery could be a blessing, but it was. We lived life fully in the here and now. We continue to try to do that as much as possible. I was so glad to wake up after the surgery to see my husband's face and hear his voice.

sophia09
sophia09

hello :) darling can we be friend?

ilik2BGoofy
ilik2BGoofy

 @BenjaminHutterer If he can take the flu and live.   I think he would be grateful if he found it out now instead of down the road and after all I am sure my opinion is not going to phase him a bit unless he wants to be courageous enough to consider what I said.  The Good Samaritan....I didn't see that demonstrated in either version of his story that is all I am going to say to this post. 

ScarlettSidhe
ScarlettSidhe

 @ilik2BGoofy Harsh. I think she was there for him I read both his and her posts. She cares. And it's NEVER a good idea to tell someone they would be better off with their ex.

BenjaminHutterer
BenjaminHutterer

 @ilik2BGoofy Well, that's the flu talking, currently, not his allergy reaction, which requires that he be sent to the ER for an eppy pin.  I forget how to spell that word, been so long since I ever used it.  Back to the subject at hand:  bloggers are bound to write their feelings, opinions, and happenings around them on their blog(s).  It is a given.  Just let you mind have a chance to open up.  No need to stonewall on people just because they are different and have different approaches in life compered to others without blogging.  I better go.  Got class in ten minutes.

ilik2BGoofy
ilik2BGoofy

 @ScarlettSidhe Sorry, you read it that way.  I would never dream of sending someone running back to their ex.  I was just wanted to point out that his ex would have at least taken better care of him...She did marry him...which meant she must have cared at some point...alot more than Brandy-girl was demonstrating here.  Even if I don't personally care about someone...my human caring placed in me by the man upstairs says that I would have at the very least seen that this individual placed in my path for whatever reason had at least his basic human right to be treated as I would want to be treated.  I would have been on the phone to the pharmacist and I don't even know him....get the point here?  She's is not that into him.  She has posted a different story to make herself look attractive to others.  I wouldn't have even posted it.  Do you post about a persons low moments?  Is that what caring looks like to you?  I would have said something like, spent time with a sick friend, I hope they are doing well now.  That is what unselfish people do.  "What ye do unto the least of these..."  Good Samaritan..he didn't have to help and yet he did.

ilik2BGoofy
ilik2BGoofy

 @BenjaminHutterer Thanks for demonstrating how open-minded you are about my postings.  I am sure your friend appreciates his good friend  supporting him.  Have a nice day.

ilik2BGoofy
ilik2BGoofy

 @Angelica Oh Angelica, I have to say this is the best advice I have gotten so far today!  I won't be wasting my time here any longer.  Please do feel free to carry on...you are contributing so much to society with your wisdom.

BenjaminHutterer
BenjaminHutterer

 @ScarlettSidhe  @ilik2BGoofy Random question: Do you like the Harry Potter series?  The reason I asked is because of the word, Bogart.  It had recurred in either the fourth or fifth book.  Anyway, feel free to respond whether you do or not!  See you around!

Angelica
Angelica

 @ilik2BGoofy You dare judge how a person demonstrates caring?  What matters is that Dan felt cared for.  Different people demonstrate and receive caring in different ways.  And dude, Dan was so happy she posted about it all that he linked us all to it.  I don't see him getting all upset, so I don't see why you should.  She's not your g/f and he's not you.  Move on with YOUR life and don't judge others just because they aren't YOU.

ScarlettSidhe
ScarlettSidhe

 @ilik2BGoofy You did tell him he would be better off with his ex. Sorry it's not how I read it, it's what you said, and are still saying. Brandy-girl demonstrated that she thought he was an adult and would tell her when he needed help. I care about people too, I help when I can. No one can really decide if being sick is an ER visit expect for the person that is sick, especially the adult. Also pharmacist aren't doctor and have really no medical training whatsoever. Also she is a blogger, dating a blogger, it's kind of a given that she was going to post about it, I would have been more shocked if she hadn't and disappointed if it just said spent time with a sick friend. Especially given that he had already posted about it.

 

Sorry for bogarting your comments Dan.