Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I don't want to die!

Have you ever had a near-death experience?  I mean, like, you REALLY thought you were dying? 

I just had one today.  I've been going through outpatient laser surgery on some painful (and unsightly) varicose veins in my legs, and it happened during my second procedure.  The doctor was going about his business, and we were all very relaxed.  We were talking about where the doctor went to college, then all of a sudden my stomach hurt very badly, then I started to see tiny white stars, and everything went black.  I didn't lose consciousness (I was talking the whole time), but I couldn't see anything and my face felt like it was swelling up, ready to burst.  My breathing became labored, and as they rushed to give me oxygen, pain, pain, pain.  I couldn't help but think, This is it.  I'm going to die.

I always thought that dying would be a peaceful experience.  I believe in an afterlife (though I'm not quite certain what it may be), and I thought that dying would feel like going home.  You know what, though?  I didn't feel like that at all.  All I could think about was my nearly four-year old son in the waiting room, and how awful it would be for him to lose his mother.  Well, that, and how embarrassing it would be to die during leg vein surgery.  I mean, COME ON.  It's like dying during a nose job.  I didn't want my family to have to explain that to people.  How awful for them.

After what felt like several minutes (though I'm sure it was much less), I came to and could see again.  The doctor had me smile and stick out my tongue...or something.  I don't really remember.  My stomach didn't hurt anymore, but the pain had moved down to my lower abdomen, where it remained until thirty minutes or so later, when it was time to leave.  It felt like menstrual cramps from there on out.

The doctor explained that what happened to me was a vasovagal reaction, and he'd seen it before.  He said it feels similar to a stroke or pulmonary embolism, because the brain stops receiving oxygen and the heartbeat becomes dangerously low, but that it passes quickly and causes no lasting damage.  After a quick Google search, I'm a little confused, because all the definitions of that particular condition are basically just fainting.  This was more than fainting.  Hm.

Anyway, whatever it was, I do not want it to ever happen again.  That was by far the scariest thing that's ever happened to my body.  I'm still reeling.  Have any of you ever felt like you were going to die?  What happened?  What did you feel like, what did you think?  I'm curious to know.
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