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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.

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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.

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with nearly half a million daily subscribers as of 2015. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!
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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......[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.

Sarah Stone Keath
Sarah Stone Keath

I have asthma, and have been in this situation a few times at the ER.. you said it just right when you said that it's not your life that flashes before your eyes, it's your child's.. this brought tears to my eyes.. so accurate. One thing my trips to the ER have taught me is that we totally need to live each moment to the fullest, with a deep gratitude, and to always, always say and show the love we feel for others.. Glad your feeling better :)

Kristin Hartman Riccitti
Kristin Hartman Riccitti

Dude, I literally felt sick to my stomach reading this! Anxiety incarnate! I can not imagine what you felt and what you went through (as eloquently as you wrote it all out) and I'm so relieved that you are on the mend.

Jessica Plaut
Jessica Plaut

Pay closer attention next time...bacterial infections of the throat can kill you. I nearly died twice from strep throat when my older sons were small. It's no game to let it go that long, Dan. Sounds like strep to me-and scarlet fever which results can affect your heart valves. Jim Henson of the Muppets did the same thing-kept working-and paid the ultimate price with organ failure, leaving behind his whole family...gone because he kept putting himself last. Don't do the same-now you know.

Marsha Goldberg
Marsha Goldberg

Happened to me years ago...and has happened a few times since. Anaphylaxis can kill you. Your life will be different now...an experience of your own mortality is not something that easily passes. Physically, you will probably want to carry an Epi-pen with you, and some benedryl. I carry mine in a screw top pill case on my keyring.

Ashley Brissel
Ashley Brissel

Thanks for making me cry! I know my thoughts would be similar to yours with my own son, also Noah's age.

Fifth Density
Fifth Density

Sometimes dying is the best thing that can happen to us. I was good and dead in 1987...and the first thing I thought/saw..was wow..nothing I believed in was true (religion) and that the source was pure love. I had a choice to come back or to stay, I chose to come back to finish the job with my children, but my entire life changed. No more religion, only love :) and I got help healing the condition from which I died...never afraid to pass over, it's a beautiful thing, but also never be afraid to live, it's what we're here for~ Blessings~thank you for using your amazing voice to tell your story~ true transformation in life comes from these inexplicable moments~

Jane Knox
Jane Knox

you never said what was wrong? asthma, allergie, what?

Jen Le
Jen Le

I heard a photographer say those words before. Wise! :}

aFLmomma
aFLmomma

I have spoken to, and read birth stories by, many women who say that during labor they faced their mortality full on. At some point they were sure they were going to die. I did not have that experience exactly. Despite the waves pain, fear and the surity that it would never end, death never crossed my mind. Not then at least, but once some of the post-labor fog started to lift it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am all this beautiful and vunerable little person has. I am a single parent, his only parent. If anything happens to me then he will be parent-less. He will loose me, and I will loose out on all of those wonderful moments. Those firsts. The laughter, the tears. Everything. I don't remember ever really fearing death before this. I always felt that I was ready to go if the time came, but now... now death terrifies me. The idea that I would ever leave him alone in this world shakes me to the core. Now, I know that this is not entirely rational. I know that he will never really be alone. My parents, two sisters and brothers-in-law, and his "adopted" aunts and uncles would make sure of that. But I fear this nonetheless. So, in short, I can sympathise with the fear that you felt and pray that someday I once again make some peace with death.

AndreaB
AndreaB

Beautiful posts Dan. I was in a car accident 5 weeks ago, and while I have no idea what I was thinking about in that split second from when I saw the car coming, to when we hit them, you definitely gave me some things to think about. Glad to hear you are doing better!

CarpeDiemTim
CarpeDiemTim

Without going into details, I've been in a position where I was absolutely 100% convinced I was about to die, more so than I have ever felt in my life. I just KNEW that I was going to die, and at first, I cried for myself. I was sad to leave my life behind me, and I felt sorry that I had to go. But then after I had my cry, I bucked up and was ready to go. I was ready to face death and embrace it. I was ready to go. Looking back on that experience, the one thing that stands out the most to me is that, although that particular circumstance wasn't actually life-threatening, I now know that if death really does come knocking, that I will face it with courage and acceptance.I don't think you can truly understand what that feels like without experiencing it yourself, which is why I believe I have a somewhat unique perspective on how it felt for you, although I don't have a kid that I would be leaving behind, which is a significant aspect. So, at any rate, I hope that you can look back on that experience, as I have, and be thankful that it happened; thankful for knowing yourself better, thankful for the introspection it so rudely forced on you, and thankful for knowing that you are right where you need to be, doing exactly what you need to do. And that is something to be truly thankful for on many levels.

tobiblake
tobiblake

I cried through that entire post. It was beautiful Dan. Your friendship has meant so much to me from the time I was 17 years old. You have been there for me through thick and thin and you have taught me so much, not only through your example of living your own truth, but also through telling me the truth even when it was difficult for you to say and even more difficult for me to hear. I don't know how I could have ever survived this past year without your friendship so thank you from the bottom of my heart Dan. As I stood in that hotel bathroom and hugged you as you struggled for air, i couldnt help but cry with you. To see someone I care about so much in such pain and despair was brutal. I realized even more in those moments how very lucky this world is to have your voice in it, and what a special father to Noah and friend to so many you are. Your friendship has been such a precious gift to me. Sorry this is long. I'm sitting in Starbucks crying. lol I am so thankful that you are ok Daniel Tony. I love you friend

roza grigori
roza grigori

Hugs to you, I've had a similar moment, where I lay on my living room floor, alone, waiting for the ambulance, whilst my son was carefree sleeping beautifully in bed one evening. I thought I was having a heart attack. All I could think of was my son and it scared me even more thinking he would wake to find me dead on the floor like this and not know how to contact anyone. :( It changes your life! 

Drea
Drea

First of all, I'm very glad that you are okay. You would be dearly missed by more people than you may even be able to fathom (i.e. there are a lot more of us out here who haven't posted or contacted you before, but read your blog and are touched by you and care).  As for your questions, I have to say that I am indeed content and at peace with my life and who I am today. In fact, I'm the person today that I always wanted to be. That does not mean there's no room for improvement, as I know I grow every day. But I am happy and proud of who I am, who I've touched, and what I've been able to accomplish. Oddly, it has little to do with my work, but with people. I believe that the people in our lives are a reflection of who we are, and who we are to them. I am very blessed with people in my life, both family and beloved friends. As much as I'd hate to go, I would feel like I mattered in this world. Thanks for the challenging question!