(Ed. note: Here’s my problem. When one has a near death experience, which, according to Terry and the doctor I did, do I become irreverent and glib about it or do I take a long look about how I write these blogs.)
As you know by now, Saturday October 18 wasn’t exactly how I had planned it. Let me tell you about the morning from my perspective.
I didn’t sleep all night – for about the third night in a row, In the last few months I have become quite proficient at perspiring all night and Friday was no different. I got up about 6:30 and showered, thinking that might stop some of it. No dice. By about 7:15 I was experiencing huge pain in my chest and I took a Zantac, thinking it would stop the indigestion. After lying down with Terry on the bed and realizing that the pain had spread down both arms I began to think that this might be a little more serious. Terry has accurately described the events over the next little while from her perspective so I will just give you my “highlights.”
When they got me into the ambulance and we left our apartment I immediately felt an incredibly cold and strong wind and wondered why the EMTs had left the back doors open. Apparently, this was not the case. The doors were closed and the ambulance was warm. Go figure.
When we got to the first hospital I could hear the frustration in Terry’s voice as she wanted something to be done, but I didn’t have the strength to say anything myself. I was aware of what was happening but didn’t really feel part of it – but no, I didn’t float away and look down on the assembled group. The entire time we were there, my sense was that there was a 3 inch long, 8 sided piece of onyx in the middle of my chest and this was what was preventing me from speaking or breathing. Finally, aware of a discussion about either Shanghai or #1 Hospital in Jiaxing was best. I worked up all the energy I could to scream (I think) that I wanted to go to #1 Hospital. This wasn’t because I had any kind of sense of doom, although Terry is probably right – I wouldn’t have made it. I just wanted the damn pain stopped.
So off we went. Rick asked Terry is I saw a white light. Honestly I don’t know. The entire time in the two ambulances and the first hospital, I know that here was a panel of white light about four feet by four feet above my head – but those could just have been panel lights. According to Terry, it was during the second ride when I flatlined, but I have no recollection of it. I remember two things –a) Terry constantly telling me to keep my eyes open and b) watching the paramedic and Terry change places. It was as if I was watching on TV with the camera filming from behind my head and the top of my head just in the bottom of the picture. I watched him compressing my chest and then all of a sudden we were at the hospital.
The rest is kind of a blur with odd flashes of memory – the faces of the people from Nanhu, Mr. Zhou and Mr. Chen running through the hall pulling the gurney I was on, being manhandled onto the operating table, frequently being ill while the surgeon was inserting the stent and he and the nurse imploring me to stay still; the pain continuing despite having morphine injected and finally the surgeon saying “OK – you don’t have any more pain” which I guess was when the stent took effect and the blood started to flow again – and after about 10 seconds he was right the pain was all gone. Then it was up to the room at 11:00 – just 4 hours after it all started.
So what great life lessons have I learned? These sound trite when I reread them, but they are spoken from my heart. Don’t each so much fat, get more exercise and appreciate every day I have with Terry because if it hadn’t been for her I would have closed my eyes.