I was in the hospital for an anaphylactic reaction to shellfish. I was experiencing an unusual reaction called a biphasic or recurring reaction about every four hours. I was in ER three times within 24 hours. I was placed on an observation floor when I began to have another episode of anaphylaxis. My best friend remained with me at the hospital. We rang for the nurse and she then paged respiratory. In the ER they gave me shots of steroids, epinephrine and breathing epinephrine to open up my airways. For some reason, this time they gave me albuterol treatment rather than all the above. I began the treatment and noticed that it was not working. I was shaking my head and trying to tell the respiratory nurse that it wasn’t working.
My best friend said something to the nurse about the combination of drugs that seemed to work in the ER. They fought back and said that I wasn’t giving it a chance to work. Meanwhile I was having difficulty breathing. My friend shouted at the nurse, “It’s not working!” Then I could no longer speak. They called another respiratory nurse who removed the albuterol treatment from my face and put a cool mist. They also put a pulse ox meter on my finger that showed my pulse over 160. (My friend told me these details later.) As soon as the lady put the cool mask on my face, that’s when my airway closed. My friend told me I flared around and the finger monitor flew off. I went unconscious, and they called a CODE BLUE.
My recollection is from as soon as the cool mist hit my face. A deaf sound came over me, the quietest most terrifying sound of my life. I remember looking around thinking I was shouting for help. Everything was in slow motion then it all stopped. I was suddenly alone in the room looking at myself from the foot of the bed. I saw myself lying curled up on the bed. In the next second I felt really hot. I can’t even describe the heat. I heard a male voice that sounded like an ex-boyfriend say “Get up, get up.” In that instance I woke up.
I’m told that I sat straight up and said in a voice different than my own to give me my purse. (On the real side of things I’m told that the ICU staff had arrived with about seven or eight people in the room. The stickers were on my chest, and yet they had not done anything because the epinephrine was missing from the crash cart. They were waiting for it from another floor.)
Back to me, I asked for my purse somehow remembering I had one last EpiPen. My friend handed me my purse; I ripped the zipper to get the EpiPen and gave myself an injection of epinephrine. This is while all the doctors and nurses stood by waiting. I was told I never even opened my eyes. My face was turned away lying in the pillow while I did this. Mind you, up until this night I had never given myself an injection.
When I came to, I remember the doctors and nurses shouting "You can let it go. Patient administered her own EpiPen." Apparently I held the pen so hard onto the side of my leg…I knew this was my only way to survive. After administration of the shot, they immediately gave me the breathing treatment. Everything was in slow motion and super loud. They were going to let me die. I kept thinking they were just standing there. I just don’t understand.
This happened in December of 2011. It’s still very fresh in my mind. In fact, I keep having recurring flash backs of that night. It was my most horrifying night ever. Now I’ll be cooking with my husband and kids and suddenly that deaf sound comes over me and I’m back in that room gasping for air screaming for help but no one hears me and no one listens. I have been blanking out at home without notice. I’ve burned food and passed out in the shower. No one wants to leave me alone or even allow me to drive. Since then I feel like I’m just here, numb like the world and time is just passing me by. I’m trying to take each minute and hour of every day and cherish it with my kids, husband and family. Yet I feel so on the outside. The only explanation is I died but I’m still here. And, I feel like I lost a part of my overall spirit in that hospital room. I try and talk to people about it but no one understands. I think they think I’m nuts. I’ve never felt more scared and alone. I just don’t know what to do.