Sunday, November 27, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
It’s interesting that it’s almost 5 months to the day that I had my ankle surgery: 6/14/11. It’s 4 am and I’ve just been startled awake by a nightmare that have become a common thing for me since I was fighting for my life 2 days after the above date. When I first came back to my own home after living with my parents after getting out of the hospital I had the terrors every night. Every. Single. Night. I hated the night time. I would feel the fear rise in me as the sun set. Now, they come less frequently and I actually haven’t had one for a few weeks until this morning. I won’t lie, after I have a terror I dread going to sleep for several nights after them in fear I will have one again, but I know someday they will be a thing of the past I won’t have to dread it. Thankfully, they are not as bad as they once were.
So here’s a personal insight and I share because it only strengthens how awesome it is to be surrounded by such amazing people (biking world or not), and that I hope each day we all take a moment to realize that amazing people touch our lives so much when you least expect it. You can plan life all you want, but life makes it’s plans regardless.
In my terror, which is the same every time, I feel a tremendous pain in my right lung, the burning with each breath is like a huge fire in my right bronchus. Every breath I take feels like I am trying to hold in that last breath you take when you’re underwater trying to stay there until the very last minute before coming up. It’s takes the most strength I’ve ever used. Each and every breath, and I’m breathing about 60 times a minute I figure.
Only this time in my nightmare. I recall the phrase I told myself in the hospital “I’m having a PE, I know I am going to die” In my terror, I feel immediate fear, then calm. I FEEL God. I see the image of my anesthesia colleague, Doug Pruitt standing by my side, holding my hand, saying everything I needed to hear. I was locked onto his eyes, fearing and fighting every single breath. I knew where I was heading, I just couldn’t take a break from struggling to breath to tell Doug, to tell him I was going to die and I needed him to intubate me, but for a guy who has been in medicine as long as I’ve lived, he knew without me saying it. I saw the look on his face. Then I remember thinking again, “Well dying just isn’t a good option.” And I set my mind to it. Set my mind to moving on. That image of Doug is seared forever. I know I could paint a perfect picture Doug’s pupils by memory. Now I call him Saint Doug... even though he chuckles when I say it, he’s MY saint. And I’m not even Catholic!
Then I wake up from the night terror... calm. Then return to immediate fear. Someone is in my bedroom. A large figure staring at me from the foot of my bed. I can’t make it out clearly but he is just standing there. What are they doing here, what are they going to do to me? I’m scared half to death, it’s worse than the nightmare! And then the figure is gone. I’m safe again. Calm.
For the first month after I was home, I didn’t put 2 and 2 together. I lie awake until daylight in fear that the person may come back. Then I realized the figure was always there watching over me, I was fearing something that wasn’t meant to be feared. Something was in my room with me... but not in the perspective I had at first thought. I’m not pushing any assumptions on you here, but I know without a doubt that there is a presence in my room, I feel it, I know it. Take from that whatever you want and believe whatever you want. I’m just saying what I experience. I KNOW what I experience.
It’s interesting that despite it being 5 months ago, my mind still fires those memories and these terrors. In medicine, major life trauma and injury are something that is common place on a daily basis to us. We see and understand (somewhat) how the physical body heals and how we expect it to recover, but no one ever really tells you what to expect from your mind after you have such an experience. I know I still struggle with that, I get frustrated with it, but I must embrace it to learn and grow from it. The good part is that even though I still have nightmares, I only dread the nightmare part. The part where I drown. Feeling calm and having faith in Saint Doug (real heros of this world) and the presence that is watching over me in my bedroom? I welcome that.
I’m thankful to have witnessed amazing people here on earth and an amazing presence from...
Dare I say heaven?
Yes, I do.
Every single moment.
Every single time.
Every single breath.