What it Feels like to Die: The Shower that Changed my Life
The last two weeks have been dramatic. The preparation, the wait, the clean-up. Now, the repair. Fortunately for my city Irma did not pass directly through, so we missed the brunt receiving only crazy rain and ridiculous winds.
I don’t know. I was pretty disappointed. We got a day off work to prepare for Irma’s arrival. She turned. She gave us the cold shoulder at the last second (thank, God) and decided Tampa looked more inviting. At least Orlando can return to the city Beautiful a little quicker. Hopefully, everyone knows this is in jest. It was just a lot of preparation and drama building up to it – we were even given a time of arrival – and there was no big climax to the storm.
I go back to work. My case load seems to increase, my patience with negative factors of my position increase. My attitude at home starts to deteriorate. I start feeling, lost.
I wrote a post at the beginning of all of this I remember (see here) , and I can see now what I did not realize then, is that my feelings of being lost and lacking purpose for causing my anxiety levels to increase to a dramatic level.
A Polite Shower
As I stepped into the shower, everything felt ‘normal.’ My husband commented on how I was acting differently and I should probably go to a doctor to get my increased twitching checked out, and I agreed. He pointed out that I’ve been acting more paranoid and anxious at the smallest things. Then, out of nowhere, my eyes started to see purple and white specks. I had seen these before many times when I was an altar server and had to wear one of those 500-lb white robes under the million-watt light bulbs on the altar on Sundays. The eye specks usually came right before I would pass out, or have to go in the back to put my head between my legs with a cold compress to avoid passing out.
So, I attempted to politely interrupt my husband because when you are about to pass out your primary concern should always be manners! and said “something’s wrong. I’m about to pass out.” He said, “You just think you are, let’s get you out of the shower.” He came and helped me get out, helped me rinse off, and I just kept saying, it’s getting worse, i can’t see now. Then I felt my body go limp. Now, if I wanted to I could lie, but I am a very competitve person, so in my head I was screaming SEE I TOLD YOU I WAS GOING TO PASS OUT… then, I was like sh*T I just passed out, what the heck!
There was no way I was passing out, though. I was not sick, I felt fine. There was that weird electrical shock in my mid-back at the start of the shower, but I always have weird pains, it could not be causing this to happen. My husband’s voice was muffled at this point like I was under water, he sounded calm – nothing could be wrong then- and he was trying to get me to lift my feet and open my eyes. Not happening, beau. Slowly, I felt my body being lowered onto the floor. I’m on the bathroom mat right under the towel rack, I thought – I must have raised my leg like a boss! I was awake but not aware if I was actually awake, if that makes sense? It felt like my husband could not hear me. Anyways, after a few moments on the ground, I realized that my throat was starting to close. Allergic reaction? – to what? I was not feel scared or anxious prior to passing out. But here I am on the floor, my eyes feel like lead bricks, my throat closing, I’m struggling to breathe. I felt myself slowly slipping away.
I knew in that moment I was dying.
Into The Darkness: the Never-ending Shower
I told my husband to call 911 and asked him to come pray with me. I apologized to God for whatever wrongs I had done, I thanked him for His blessings, I prayed protection over my family (even the ones who don’t like me) and asked Him to take away my fear. I could barely talk. My throat was closing gradually along the same rate as I felt my consciousness slipping. I said goodbye to my husband, and thought I was taking my last breathe. I was not scared in that moment. My life had been blessed. I did not get to have children, and I did apologize to my husband for that, but God had a plan. It was my time.
The darkness had fully taken over at this point and I felt myself fall deeper and deeper into this endless pit. I kept trying to take whatever breathe I could muster, but felt them getting smaller and smaller. I felt something pulling my down. I gave up to it. And, gasped what I thought was the final breathe.
Then, in the distance, I heard a doorbell.
I heard a small voice say hang on, they’re here to help.. And, there was a soft fabric gently placed on my body, which I could now feel was ghastly cold. She’s in here.
The EMTs arrived and entered the shower where I was laying with my arms across my chest in true ‘Drama Queen Juliane’ fashion. My eyes began to flutter open, and I felt my throat slowly start to open. When I realized I was still inside the shower, I was so embarrassed and confused. For whatever reason, only male EMTs arrived to assist the unclothed, semi-conscious girl out of the shower, so I had to be assisted into the robe and walk/carried to the bed since both my legs were shaking uncontrollably. When I saw the look on my husband’s face, I felt my stomach sink further. I had no idea what happened. I was terrified but I could not let him know. He looked more worried than anything.
Some tests were done, I think, and then I was asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I asked if they knew what happened, and they said no, so I looked at my husband, and said, If I passed out and stopped breathing, and they don’t know why I should go right?
So, I was helped into actual clothes and taken to the ambulance.
Are you Seeing People Now?: Ambulance to Hell
It was not until I was in the ambulance that I realized I had made a mistake. The man, who I assume was a nurse, did not seem to care about anything. He saw my legs shaking and said “You cold?” to which I said, “No, they just won’t stop doing that.” Then, as he was putting in the IV line, I realized the weight of what I experienced and started crying again. This was the conversation:
Me: That was so scary.
Nurse: You saw something scary?
Me: No. What happened scared me.
Nurse: Are you seeing things now?
Me: No. I do not see things. I passed out, and then could not breathe. That was scary.
Nurse: Why are you unhappy?
Me: Now? Because I thought I was dying.
Nurse: Control your breathing.
Me: I believe I am.
Nurse: Think happy thoughts.
Me: Am I not breathing correctly? Could you please tell me? I’m counting.
Nurse: Happy thoughts.
Me: I really think I’m breathing correctly… the right side is contracting again, though. I swear I’m breathing right, though. Please look. (he was behind my back the whole time).
Once we got to the hospital, he did finally check me for signs of a stroke, but even though I presented with right side weakness and was still having difficulty breathing, he wrote me off.
Not Worth Our Time
At the hospital, I was given a room but I was not given any care. I did ask one of the medics if I was breathing correctly and he said I was, and that my legs appear to be a nervous system issue. I did not have a CT scan, no MRI, no blood pressure taken, no inquiry as to how I was feeling currently or before I passed out.
A doctor just came in and said “The paramedic saw the medications you take, so this was likely a panic attack. You’ve had them before, correct.” When I said ‘No,’ the doctor did seem generally surprised but refused to change his diagnosis. I tried explaining that my breathing was not fast prior to passing out, that I did not have trouble breathing until after I passed out, but he said it can present any way, even without panic or anxiety.
When I attempted to question further, I could see that it only confirmed it in the doctor’s mind more, so I stopped.
Is this what mental health patients deal with every day? Regardless of what the actual cause of what happen actually turns out to be, I feel like I was treated and talked to like a two-year old just because of the medication I am legally prescribed. The staff treated me as a broken person incapable of handling things myself for medication that is as needed, and reprimanded me for not taking it, even though, it was not needed, so I did not take it.
I left that evening in complete shock over thinking I had a near-death experiencing and reliving it every moment I closed my eyes (still do), and feeling left with more questions. Thankfully, I had the support of my husband and MIL who made me feel so much better. Nonetheless, I still feel shaky thinking about it.
The Shower Aftermath
There have been two recurrences of this “event” since last Thursday. One the next evening and one Tuesday evening, ironically also in a shower. Neither were to the same severity but as frightening, since I have no idea what is going on. My legs start shaking uncontrollably – I lose the ability to walk. I feel as though I’m going to pass out, and so far if I am already on the ground I have not passed out. Nonetheless, my eye sight fades and my throat starts closing even with controlled breathing. I do not know what to think. Is it a severe panic attack? Controlled breathing should be helping.
My focus now is to learn a way to not live my life waiting for the new attack, because that is all I can think about – when is it going to happen again? Will I be able to get to a safe place? What if it’s not a false alarm and I really do need medical assistance? How will I know the difference?
Our week-long honeymoon helped a lot. It would be helpful not to have to go back to a high-stress job, if this is a panic disorder suddenly rearing its head on top of my normal anxiety. Yet, I have no other options. Maybe when I try my kratom tea this week for our upcoming review post, it may help?