Tuesday, March 6, 2012

the one about the anaphylaxis

Ten short weeks after Zach and I were first married, I found myself lying in the back of an ambulance, on my way to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth's. 

A rotten shrimp from lunch was trying to kill me. I was swelled up from hives upon hives, I was floating in and out of consciousness, my heart was beating a thousand miles per minute, I was nauseous and I couldn’t breathe ...


That particular March day two years ago was beautiful like it is today. We took a walk and were on our way home when things became really frightening really fast. Zach had to leave me on the bench outside a church less than half a mile from home. I could no longer walk and he was sprinting home to get the car. When he came back, he realized he had to call for an ambulance. In less than ten minutes, a big red fire engine, the police and the ambulance were all present at the church. I was still doing that floating in and out of consciousness thing when they loaded me into the ambulance. My throat had swelled shut so I couldn't talk to anyone. Zach was driving like a maniac behind the ambulance. He only knew the extent of my condition when the paramedics pulled over on the way to the hospital to perform a tracheal intubation. They saved my life by reacting so quickly that day. The doctors stabilized me in the ER and sent me to the ICU to be observed. I did not know this at the time, but they had put me in a state of induced coma so my body could slowly recover from all the trauma it just experienced.

I tell this story because while all these things were happening to me, Zach was in his own state of deep shock and scare. We were newlyweds. We had just taken the vows of “in sickness and in health” and “for better or for worse” … but we both thought those were just some distant, down-the-road, in-the-future-type scenarios. We were still basking in the happiness of the privilege of having each other for the rest of our lives so neither one of us were exactly focusing on the fragility of life. It breaks my heart when I think about how scared Zach must have been amidst all of the chaos. In my state of induced coma, I was able to feel him by my side, holding my hand and gently patting my hair. I could hear his every "I love you"s and I wanted to reach out and call to him but I couldn't talk and I couldn't move. I was upset I couldn't tell him I loved him back. 

We learnt that day that life is unpredictable, love is uplifting, and how important it is to share a small dose of thanksgiving every day we get to be together! We're also glad we've gone two whole years without another episode.

Sure, now my every tiniest itch is monitored by Zach and we cannot go anywhere without our Epipen, inhaler, and Benadryl. But those are inconveniences are small compared to "the ana" ...

p.s. Anaphylaxis is dangerous. I was lucky to have Zach by my side when I felt sick. Learn about the symptoms and things you can do if you're ever with someone who has a severe allergy reaction here.

1 comment:

Gillian said...

I know this is a little late but I love this post! Not the ana.. of course. I remember speaking to you after it happened and it sure didn't sound this bad!

I am so glad that everything went right on that day. Maybe you should make this day of every year a special holiday for the two of you!

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