On the morning of 10/25/01, I called in sick to work. It’s not that I felt sick; I just didn’t feel completely right. So, I stayed home and rested. In the early evening (about 5:00 p.m.) I went with my husband to an event that we already had tickets for.
After the event my husband went to the gym and I went home. Around seven that evening I started having increasing pain. I tried to vomit, but that didn’t help. I got online and tried to figure out what was wrong with me but I couldn’t pinpoint it. The pain got much worse. I called my husband at the gym and asked him to come home and take me to the emergency room. At this point, I couldn’t even drive. We got to the emergency room and waited for about an hour (with me groaning the whole time).
After a while they were able to figure out what was wrong with me, I had a very large kidney stone stuck in my ureter. They admitted me and told me I would stay in the hospital at least overnight.
So they put me on a Morphine PCA pump. That is the kind where the patient can give themselves a small dose of the morphine every 10 minutes or as needed. The next day (10/26/01) passed uneventfully except that at 8:00 p.m. the pump malfunctioned and was not sending any medicine to me. I remember very well that the nurse had a heck of a time getting it to work. My husband left a little while later.
I do not remember going to sleep, but apparently I did. I fell asleep on my right side (which is normal for me). While asleep I vomited and inhaled the vomit back into my lungs. This caused me to go into respiratory arrest.
What I do remember is this: I was in a very, very black room. Blacker than I have ever seen. I do not think that I was really conscious of anything for a while, kind of like nothing mattered. I remember that it was very quiet and peaceful there. To me it seemed as though this was a blank room with nothing in it but me; I did not have a body. For a long while there was no sound.
After a bit I started feeling uncomfortable (that is the best word I can use). I got it into my head that “it” was a lie. Whatever “it” is I do not know. This lie theme became almost a mantra in my head. Then I started hearing occasional bursts of what sounded like TV or Radio static. Then I started hearing my name and other words come through the static occasionally.
When I started hearing my name I began to feel as though this might be something worth listening to. So, I listened. I struggled to listen. Somewhere around here I became conscious of things. The nurses and doctors were feverishly trying to get me to respond. I could not talk to them, I could only listen.
Finally, I was able to talk to them (the doctors and nurses). I was back in the “real world”. At some point I realized that I could not see, though my eyes were wide open. I have a huge fear of blindness because I am a glaucoma suspect. After a while I was able to see shades of lighter grays. Then I could see color and then I could see shapes. Finally I could see.
They had me answer a whole bunch of questions. It was very strange to me because I could not understand why there were so many people in my room. I was very disoriented. Then when my eyesight had restored itself I started describing the individuals closest to me. At the foot of my bed was my nurse. She asked me if I remembered who she was. I did. And that is when I remembered that I was in the hospital and something horrible must have happened for this many people to be with me.
They sent me to the ICU for the weekend. I ended up with inhalation pneumonia in both lungs (more in the right lung). I found out later that they do not know how long I was in my room in respiratory arrest. The CNA had come in to do a vitals check and I did not respond. She turned on the light and found me severely cyanotic (blue) and completely unresponsive. She called for an RN STAT (who actually was my RN). The RN took one look at me and punched the code button on the wall. When the code team arrived it took 15 minutes for them to revive me. The defibrillator team was waiting right outside my door. They thought I was a goner.
I can only say that I was completely at peace in that black room. Nothing bothered me there. When it did, I think my mind tried to shut it out and ignore it by calling it a “lie”. I think it was hard to resuscitate me because I did not want to leave that peaceful place. Hard to explain. I am no longer completely afraid of dying because I now know how peaceful it is.