I think maybe I almost died yesterday.
Being an ER nurse, I'm probably more aware than most people how ridiculously easy it is to die. That doesn't mean, however, that I've been any less sure of my own personal immortality than your average joe on the street. Granted, having had experience with death, I don't wish for immortality, and I'm aware that I will die, but more as a "some day, in the fullness of time" concept - for example, I don't have a will, I haven't made arrangements for my children in case of my death, I don't have a living will, and I don't currently have life insurance. All of these things will change, preferably within the next two weeks.
Actually, I think definitely I almost died yesterday.
WARNING: Grossness alert...
On out way to Ozzfest in Indianapolis, my sweetie and I stopped for lunch. I wasn't very hungry, but I felt fine. After our meal he went to the bathroom while I paid the bill. Suddenly, I got a slight stomach twinge. I figured since we had about another 1/2 hour to go I'd best use the restroom as well. About 2 minutes after I entered the stall I suddenly became violently ill and projectile vomited into the toilet. I don't know how long that lasted, I just remember sweat starting to roll off me in streams. I started feeling weak and my vision went to black and white. Everything started looking as if it were rendered in low-resolution pixels.
I heard someone come into the restroom, but I stayed quiet - I'm one of those people who just want to be left alone when they're sick. They left again. I found out later that Alex had gotten worried when I hadn't appeared after about 1/2 hour, and had sent a server to look for me. If he hadn't, I don't know how long I would've been in the bathroom undiscovered.
I became conscious of the fact that pretty soon I was going to, er, be spouting at both ends. I got to my feet somehow, got my pants pulled up, and staggered out towards the trash can with the intent of getting the plastic bag so I wouldn't vomit all over the floor. It was wedged tight. I think someone came in while I was yanking at it, but I can't swear to it. Suddenly I found myself sitting on the floor, and the garbage bag was still stuck tight (which pissed me off more than a little, I can tell you). All I could see was black and white shapes, and the room was spinning. I remember sinking backwards and then someone I couldn't make out telling me to sit up, and not being able to. I remember my body wouldn't do what I wanted it to and that made me mad, but I was so miserable and sick and hurting that I couldn't concentrate on being mad.
Somehow I got pulled up to a sitting position, and the person told me not to move. I, being the great order taker that I am, took advantage of my new position to drag myself back to the toilet, and managed to actually get up on it. I must have vomited at some point during this process because the next thing I remember is someone mopping at my shirt and myself looking with surprise at a big stain on it. I still couldn't see, but there was definitely someting dark on my white shirt. A nurse who was there kept trying to talk to me but I just wanted to be left alone. She wanted to call EMS, but I didn't want them called. I already knew that I had some kind of gastroenteritis, and I didn't need anyone else to tell me so.
The nurse told me I was pale, diaphoretic, and that my pulse was rapid, weak and thready. I couldn't hold my head or my body up, I just propped my forehead in my hands and my elbows on my knees so I didn't have to expend any strength. She asked me what I would think of a patient in that situation, and I told her I was ok (I think, people kept asking me to repeat things, so maybe I didn't say everything I thought I did). Meanwhile, fluid kept pouring out of me, out of every conceivable opening.
When I finally realized that I could no longer articulate full words or raise my head off my hands at all I gave in and allowed them to call 911.
Suddenly the room was full of EMS and firefighters who talked about having me walk out to a gurney. They decided against it when they were unable to find a radial or brachial pulse, and only a feeble carotid pulse. Two of them lifted me off the toilet (the ultimate indignity) and half-dragged me to the gurney. My legs and feet were completely numb, as were my arms, and I wasn't able to assist them at all. I assume I was wheeled through a restaurant filled with gawkers, probably terrified to finish their meals (any restaurant manager's nightmare is to have a patron taken away by ambulance...).
In the ambulance the paramedics were unable to find a blood pressure. Apparently they stuck me several times for a large bore IV, judging by my punctures. I think I remember hearing that my veins were completely flat, and I definitely remember hearing a request for the airway bag. I remember my clothes being cut off me, and a comment about T elevation. I also remember going Signal 10 (lights and sirens).
I was later told that the ER had been prepared to code me, that my pulse rate was 157 when I arrived and that my blood pressure was 52 over 20something. I remember seeing Alex, and being so happy he was there. I remember standing on my head in Trendelenberg position for a long, long time, and shaking with chills from two IVs infusing full out.
I finally came back to myself freezing and embarassed. Five liters of fluid later, I was able to pee, was released from the hospital, and we made it to Ozzfest in time to see the last half of Mudvayne and all of Iron Maiden (what, you didn't think a little thing like that would stop me, did you?). Unfortunately, Ozzy was ill so we didn't get to see Black Sabbath perform.
But we did get to buy an Ozzfest 2005 t-shirt... ironically, it shows the devil, surprised on the toilet...