Today kinda sucked. I almost died. I know what happened today could have killed me, and near-death experiences have a weird effect. On me, since I can’t speak for anyone else.
So, my son and I have been battling pink-eye. I say battling because the antibiotics haven’t been working. Somehow I got re-infected in the opposite eye than the one that had it in the first place and the bottle of drops they give you is so tiny that there isn’t enough to go through another treatment without going back to the clinic for more drops.
I knew I was infected but my son, Bob, wasn’t showing any symptoms. I decided to keep him home and bring him with me to the doctor, in case there was an early warning sign the doc could pick up before his eyes literally turned pink and starting oozing with nasty.
So, he was there and being good for a little while, then, as it goes with five year olds, he got bored and started getting loud and rambunctious. I tried to calm him down and when he refused to listen, I put him in a time out. He tried to run from the time out and I reached out to grab him. That’s when it happened. I broke a nail. I broke that bastard right down to the quick. There was blood. Blood and I are not on good terms. Then there was the pain, also not on good terms. I managed to get a bandage on, but within seconds I knew what was coming. They’ve been happening since I was a kid.
My family called them fainting spells. They happened very rarely, years apart, but whenever something too unpleasant or painful happens, it’s like a part of me just checks out and the rest of me is left in a jumbled, writhing heap on the floor. The term epileptic seizure had been tossed around, but I clung to fainting spells. They sound more pleasant and romantic, less severe. There was nothing pleasant or romantic about what happened to me in the clinic.
I did what I knew to do. Sometimes I can stop it. I steadied my breathing and got low to the ground. I tried to save face by sitting on the floor, but soon I was on all fours trying to steady my body from swaying. The room grew very hot.
“Hey, are you okay?” A man’s voice reaches me
“I’m not good with blood,” I pant. My sweaty palms press into rough grey carpet as I use my last strength to try and crawl to my son. He has stopped trying to run from me and is standing still, his eyes are wide and white.
“Hey, I think this lady needs-“
Brilliant blue sky and pristine white clouds envelop me. I am vapour floating high above the earth. I am a small part of a vast universe. I am only my soul. I am invisible, and weightless. I feel no pain, I feel no sorrow, I feel no joy, no hope, no pressure, no need. I feel only space and freedom. Before my surroundings fully emerge into focus, I am lying on the rough grey carpet and worried faces are peering down at me.
“Do you know where you are?” A man who wasn’t in the waiting room before is kneeling over me. He looks calm and assured.
“Where is my son?” I croak.
“He is okay.” A female voice. The man tries to repeat his question but I break in.
“Where is my son?” I demand.
“He’s fine. We took him in the other room so he wouldn’t have to see this. He’s playing with toys.”
With that a tentative calm washes over me, but I still need to see him. I know things are bad. I am very confused. I relax into the carpet, trying to regain my wits. The man is a doctor. The ladies are nurses or secretaries.
He repeats his question. I answer. He asks the other people in the waiting room what happened. Then he turns to me, “So, seeing the blood is what triggered this?” He asks.
“Yeah,” I mumble. “I’d really make a terrible doctor, huh?”
He smiles, “Well, your sense of humour is back.”
It’s usually my first defence in embarrassing situations.
It takes a few minutes, but soon I am ready to try standing up. They’d like to move me into a room. The doctor and the secretary &/or nurse, a large, well-groomed, and attractive black woman, help me up. That’s when I look down.
“Oh my God!”
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it,” they are quick to reassure me, but I’m mortified. I’ve peed my pants. It’s quite too soon to find anything funny about this. I start to cry, humiliated.
The black woman comforts me.
Soon I am being helped onto the examining table in the doctors office. I’ve seen my son and I know he’s alright, but he looks a little shaken up.
“I need to take these pants off,” I protest. But I realize I have nothing else to put on. I have no choice but to lie down in my wet pants. They bring me ice packs, I am burning up. The doctor tells me I have had a seizure.
They are very composed and caring. It hasn’t dawned on me yet how lucky I am, that this has happened in the best possible place, and how much worse this could have turned out for me, and for my son.
The doctor comes in and checks on me a few times, the ladies freshen my ice packs and care for my child. My baby comes and holds my hand… for a few seconds before running off to cause trouble. He keeps trying to lock them out of the room. He will be the death of me, but I don’t think death is really all that bad.
The doctor returns to the room and is looking me over and asking questions.
“This actually isn’t even why I’m here,” I say. “I’m here because of the pink eye. We took the antibiotics but it came back. I point to my infected eye and he leans in to take a look. I can smell my pee wafting up, I’m so fucking embarrassed.
“I don’t think that is pink eye,” he says, apprehensively. “It looks like a ruptured blood vessel in your eye.”
“No,” I insist. “It is pink eye, we’ve had it before and I used the antibiotics, but it came back. I’ve been using the leftover antibiotics so it might look a little better than it did yesterday, but it’s for sure pink eye.”
“No, it’s a ruptured blood vessel.”
I’m confused. It feels like we are not talking about the same thing. “Um, do you have a mirror?” I ask.
He starts to say no, then turns and digs one out. He hands it to me. I start to get dizzy again.
“Take it!” I cry, and he’s quick to slip it out of my hands before I drop it to the floor. I writhe around on the table, trying to prevent my body from feeling all fuzzy and disconnected. The last thing I needed to see was more blood right now, and here my eye is full of it. I try to get the image out of my mind. It takes effort.
“It didn’t look like that before,” I groan. “Oh my god, my friggin eye!”
“It may have been associated with the seizure. You say it wasn’t like that when you came in?”
“No, not at all. It was just like normal pink eye. It was a little bit pink and goopy.” The white of my eye now has a dark red splotch of blood that gets worse above my eyelid. I don’t have the stomach to find out how much worse. I feel nauseous and they bring me some cold water, and a bowl to vomit into. The doctor agrees to write a script for the pink eye and my son is uncharacteristically well-behaved for the moment. I am grateful for both.
It takes some time but soon I am well enough to try standing. I do my best to clean up the pissy table, I remove the wet paper and the paper gown they laid down and dispose of it. The doctor has given me another paper gown which I wrap around my waist, and for the first time on this sweltering spring day, I’m glad I brought my rain jacket, which I wrap around my waist over the paper gown.
I stumble out, legs weak and shaky, and face the people in the waiting room again. I’m beyond humiliated now. The pity in these faces cuts like knives.
“I forgot my prescription,” I mumble. The secretary tells me to sit and that she’ll go back for it, but I don’t listen. I’m happy to get away from all the probing eyes. I still have to face the pharmacist, who got a front-seat view of me pissing myself. He wordlessly fills the prescription, and I’m glad that he doesn’t explain things. He knows we’ve been dealing with this for a while now.
The doctor has insisted I see the neurologist and that is a great idea. The secretary gives me an appointment card and calls me a taxi. My son and I wait outside in the fresh air. I feel like a wrung out sponge and just need to get home to my bed.
I thought I was pretty cool with death. We’re all given a life, we all owe a death, and we don’t get to decide where, when, or how we pay up. But I still felt sad and I cried a bit when I got home – mostly for my son. I don’t want to die and leave him. He needs me. I need at least another twenty years and I haven’t been promised so much as the next minute. You just never know.
My sister called, which is unusual for the time of day it was. Then the first thing she asked me was how I was feeling, also unusual. We aren’t even twins and we have that telepathy. Of course I broke down and told her. The only thing that stopped me from calling her first is that I didn’t know what she was up to and didn’t want to worry her if she needed her focus to be elsewhere. I am okay and it was unnecessary.
A friend, who couldn’t pick us up from the clinic, brought us Mc.Donald’s, along with a finger splint for my poor hand, and washed our dishes since I didn’t want to get my torn up nail wet just yet. I’m so grateful for the few good friends and family I have. I don’t want to die, but if it has to happen, I can honestly say, I’m satisfied with how I lived. I don’t want anyone to stop living just because I do, and that crazy funeral idea I had, with the Michael Jackson? Yeah, that is totally happening!