Breathing is good. Breathing is wonderful. Breathing after I thought I might not take another breath is a miracle. Today I have bruises on my rib edges, a sore back and shoulders, a raw throat, a tendency to tear up, and a very worried man beside me. I send out my gratitude to the world, the EMTs, Rowley police, various new met cousins of my cousins Elizabeth and Ed, more friends and cousins, and my own dear one who stayed calm and did what was needed.
It was a party. I had a bit of wine, not usual for me, I was enjoying myself, nibbling on appetizers, enjoying the mild air, the good people, being welcomed, watching Ed's joy as the small party became a surprize huge gathering. He was given a very silly hat, which he wore with aplomb. I decided to get a bit more substantial food, a bit of steak tips. They were a bit gristly, and I thought I'd bitten through enough to swallow a small bit, but the larger bit stuck and went down as well. I couldn't cough it up, I mimed to D the Heimlich maneuver, which he immediately started. I figured it would just pop right out, like in the movies, like in the CPR class descriptions. It stayed glued. D got someone else to try, and I heard the new rescuer say "bend over!, bend over!" wondering if that would make a difference. And started to go black. I didn't mind dying for my own sake, but I went out agonized at leaving D, in such a messy, pointless way. How stupid to die at a birthday party, in front of so many people. But I was helpless, my throat blocked, my life collapsing.
Then I was on my side, looking at dirt, and glory, glory, glory, I was breathing. Raspy uncertain breaths, but I was breathing! I never realized how lovely dirt could look. And I could hear a voice saying "She looks much less blue" and "She's pinking up." More phrases that made sense at the time, but I can't remember now. I wanted to reassure them, I said "Breathing is good" and I'm fine, I'm fine, and Hi, wow that was scary. One voice said "She'll feel better if you wipe that dirt off" I said I didn't mind the dirt at all, it was beautiful dirt, as long as I was breathing. I can't say that is what actually was heard, but I think I got a few relieved laughs. A man told me he was giving me a face mask with oxygen, coaxing me into accepting it. Completely unnecessary, I jammed it onto my face and sucked in, my chest easing, delicious oxygen. I found my cousin Fran holding my right arm, and she looked so beautiful and caring. I reached out to my left and felt D's shoe, and we found each other's hands, and I drank in his worried face. I'm fine, I'm fine, breathing is wonderful, this was scary. Said a bright Hi to the woman in the uniform who came and took my vital signs and asked me questions.
I didn't want to get taken to the hospital. We can't afford the expense, I will be fine, but oh, my head is sparkly. I deferred to D, who said go. I complied. My EMT talked to me the whole weird ride in the ambulance, the same kind of litany that I do for my recovery room patients. I cried the whole way, but she believed me when I just said Ignore it, normal stress reaction. By the end of the ride, I'd managed to tell her what I did for a living, and she laughed that I knew everything she'd been telling me. Didn't mind, I'd found it very reassuring. The heavy pain below my zyphoid eased after a belch or two before we got to the hospital. I put out my hand when the gurney moved, and there was D's hand. We grinned.
I was checked, monitored, watched. My oxygen levels were the acceptable over 90%, but not the good over 95%, for a while. My throat hurt, I was wiped of all energy or desire to move. They listened to my lungs, my gut. My head spun, partly from the wine. By 7PM I talked them into letting me go home. Even D didn't object by then. I was given precautions on the potential sequela from the resuscitation effort. They reluctantly discharged me after a few more signatures. Elizabeth took us back. When she drove into the driveway, Ed stood waiting, then gathered me into his arms. I felt like a long lost child, welcomed back from the grave. For so I was, and I was just as glad to see him.
Death had come to the party, so when I came back alive, everyone there had to touch me, to reassure themselves, which also reassured me. I was happy to hug any of these lovely people. I was alive, because of them. There was more humor, the advantage of a party with the addition of red and blue flashing lights- regarding the reputation in the neighborhood. The joy of breathing. Stealing the spotlight from the birthday boy. (So what if it was his 70th.)
Today, I feel very fragile. D is worried and shaken, keeps holding me with a kind of wordless desperation. I have emailed people, because I needed to connect with my life, our life. Moby was very skittish when we got home, and he let me hold him a long time. He was at our feet all night, and as near to me as he could get all day.
I am alive. I breathe. I am deeply grateful.
I feel very loved.
Labels: love story, pain