Do I have 9 lives?
"Cats have nine lives" as the popular saying goes and although the history of the phrase is debatable the reason it came about is clear: cats just have a way of always landing on their feet and surviving in some wild situations.
As for me, well, I'm not a cat, but I have had a handful of unfortunate circumstances in my life that took me close to the edge of death.
Here is a list of all the 6 times I've taunted the grim reaper.
Some of these situations pretty serious and some comical (age 29 is usually everyone's favorite).
Age 0: A heart stopping delivery
It was right after Christmas when my mother, Mary, first went into labor. The "post holiday" vibe was in full effect. My mother's doctor wanted to accelerate the process so gave her pitocin to help stimulate contractions. The problem was her doctor, for whatever reason, disappeared shortly after. A nurse noticed that every time she had a contraction my heart would become very irregular, even looking as if my heart stopped with every one. They pulled over a doctor that was helping with another delivery in the next room, not my mother's doctor.
He looked at the print out on the 1980s era equipment and saw that I was in fetal distress. He said "that baby has to come out now!"
They wheeled my mother in an operating room and I was pulled out via emergency c-section 7 minutes later. Post delivery they administered the Apgar test (a test given after birth to determine if extra medical care is necessary); they gave me was on the "low side of normal."
"Low side of normal," lol, so began story of my life!
Age 1: I've got a fever...and measles?
Before I start I want to make it clear I AM FOR VACCINES! That said, ill now tell you how the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) almost killed me.
The MMR is a normal vaccine that you get as a child and you typically have to have a second shot around age 4. The vaccine was (and I think still is) a "live virus" vaccine. I was given the vaccine around 18 months old. 10 days later I had developed a rash. My mom took me to the pediatrician realized what was happening and told her to get to the hospital as soon as possible.
I developed a very high fever, upwards of 105/106 degrees fahrenheit (40/41 c). What you might not realize is that at 107.6 a child will sustain brain damage, so they have to bring your temperature down as fast as they can.
The method? An alcohol sponge bath.
This was the go to method at the time but it is now known that this technique is highly dangerous for the exact same reason it is effective, it works too well. Cooling the body too fast, as you can imagine, can be problematic as well.
Later they determined I had developed a full case of measles. This is apparently very very unusual. Later tests showed that I had developed immunity to the measles.
Seems I've always had to do things the hard way!
Age 16 - Car accident
I have decided to not put the full story here. This story was rather traumatic for me and, sadly, someone died.
What I will share of this story is that I had switched seats with someone in a car moments before we were hit by a fully loaded Mack truck (pictured above). He died.
I will share this story in a later blog post where I can better illustrate the gravity of this event.
This event impacted my life greatly and, in a way, shaped the person I am today.
Age 29 - Accidentally made chlorine gas
I was cleaning the shower my condo when I lived in Florida. My partner, Otto, was sleeping on the couch. I was finding that the bleach I was using wasn't as effective as I had hoped for, so I looked at what else I had. I reached for some CLR (which stands for calcium, lime, and rust remover) and I put that on top of the bleach.
Shortly after I found that I was having a hard time breathing and my throat burned. I doubted myself for a moment and thought it would go away but it didn't. I panicked and left the bathroom and closed the door. I was still not fully recovered and I was kinda scared when i decided to wake up Otto and tell him what happened. He looked concerned.
I don't remember which one of us decided to call poison control but I had him talk to them. I didn't want to know the symptoms if something was wrong for fear that I would somehow start to imagine the symptoms of whatever I heard because I was scared.
Otto was on the phone with poison control for a few minutes, he asked me some questions but otherwise didn't tell me anything. Later he told me that the operator told him that I had made chlorine gas, CLR contains ammonia and mixed with bleach this is what you get. They told him
"If she lives the next 30 minutes she will be fine"
...but otherwise there was nothing emergency services could do.
I think, although I was scared, he had to be more scared than ever to hear that information.
Clearly I lived.
He later asked me what the hell I was thinking, asking "didn't you learn about mixing chemicals in school?" - I had not. I figure its easy to accidentally make a deadly gas with normal house hold products they NEED TO PUT A WARNING ON THE LABEL!
There are many stories like this on the internet, some far worse than mine, telling of people collapsing and foaming at the mouth. I really had no idea of the dangers of something in my own house under the sink.
This story is now kinda funny and very informative to most people I tell it to.
But I will tell you, this story is STILL not funny to Otto. And I understand that.
Age 31 - Accidentally ate glass
It was the third bite in when I thought to myself "man, these pumpkin seeds are really crunchy" - thats when I tasted the blood.
So how did it get there? Well I loved and still love kale. I kept my kale in a pretty, large, swing top jar in my fridge. That day I swung open the lid and I recall it hit something but I don't recall what. Pieces of glass shattered from the inside lip of the lid lid but I honestly didn't notice till it was too late.
Of course I was alone and I was freaking out. I think I Googled a few things and realized that there is really nothing you can do if you eat glass, at least small pieces of glass. The only thing you can do is just wait and see!
In most cases if it is small, not sharp or pointed [a doctor will] let it pass through the system. Often when that is done- the glass or foreign object gets covered in mucas or food, it is incorporated into your stool (poop) & passes through completely & OK
So again, I lived.
The next day I decided I was never going to keep my kale in a glass jar again.
Age 33 - Allergic reaction alone
I have a close family member that had colon cancer. So when I started to have symptoms I went to a doctor and she had me go in for a colonoscopy asap.
As you may know, when you have a colonoscopy, the prep work is worse than the procedure. Not only can you not have solid foods but you also have to take medication to "flush" out your system. Now ill save you the details here but it is exactly what you think. But that is not what I'm here to tell you about.
At that time I lived in NYC but had all my doctors appointments in Raleigh, where I used to live and still went to for work once a month. Medical procedures were more economical there.
It was the night before the procedure, I hadn't had solid food in days but to be honest after the second day its not so bad. I started taking the prep medication that would begin to flush my system out, it was called Osmoprep and was a pill. I was on the second or third dose when my entire body started to itch. I dismissed it and continued to watch tv. It was about a half hour later that I had a bad feeling something was really wrong, I was having a hard time breathing. I took a couple puffs of my inhaler but it wasn't working. Thats when I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I was covered with hives and pink all over.
My throat continued to swell I was faced a difficult decision - do I call an ambulance or try to drive myself to the hospital. In hindsight I should have called an ambulance but at the time I was so worried about the expense ($3k-$5k) I decided to drive myself. I don't feel great about this decision so please spare me the lecture of what could have happened.
I made it to the emergency room, I parked out front and ran in. The person at the desk listened to my frantic gasping pleas and immediately took me back. The doctor asked me what I had taken then gave me a fist fill of meds and sat me down. That stuff works so fast. I could breathe again in minutes and my rash was subsiding.
After the situation died down the doctor, knowing I was on a heavy laxative, said "hey, the bathroom is over there" I laughed and ran to it.
I drove away from the hospital feeling as if I had death yet again.
Now I rarely eat cheeseburgers on the regular but that night I felt I deserved it. I immediately went North Carolina's own Char-Grill and had a cheeseburger; the first solid food I had in days.
It was the best cheeseburger I think I've ever had. It hurt like hell afterward (your body cant handle food like that after fasting for 3 days) but it still tasted good af.
In case you are wondering, no, my colonoscopy procedure didn't happen the next day. I rescheduled for a month later. I used another medication and my mom came with me. I tested negative.
What have I learned?
Well, I learned how to make chlorine gas!
Ok seriously, I take away lessons from each of these experiences (well not the one when I was under 2). But I think encountering death, both seriously and comedically, has made me have a better relationship with my own mortality.
It may sound strange but now when I now find myself in a panic attack (feeling like I'm a heart attack) I think:
"Humm, its probably fine, but you know what, if today is the day... so be it."
Have you taunted death? Tell me your story!
Comment below or comment on my Facebook page.