Its funny we don’t talk about death, but it is a big part of life.
We are all human and it is inevitable that we will die one day. Technically from birth we are dying every day a bit of time slips away. But it is up to us to make the most of the bits in between.
I know I’m sounding rather morbid, but on Friday I came pretty close to crossing that line between life and death.
It all started with one meal, at the time I did not realise there was nuts in the dish. Usually I know if there is anything wrong but this time I had a delayed reaction.
I’m surprised I made it from the venue to the train station, it was a good 20-minute walk away and I thank my lucky stars that I made it to a manned station.
To any casual observer I looked like a really drunk person, I was holding my tummy and vomiting. I looked really sick but I would survive another day.
What they didn’t know was that I was having a combination of asthma and a severe allergic reaction; this meant that I was having trouble breathing and my airways were rapidly closing up.
Somehow I made it through the station barriers where I started vomiting in the corner, the protective services officers approached me and asked if I was ok.
I choked out “No asthma and allergic reaction to nuts and basil.” They kept on asking more questions about where I lived and how old I was, but when you’re struggling for breath it can be really hard to answer.
Suddenly I felt my airways closing and I blacked out. I could sense what was happening but I felt calm. All the pain I had been feeling a few moments ago was gone, it was the most bizarre feeling like I was there but I was not there. Then I woke up and started breathing again. I felt the air mask on my face and I was on the way to hospital.
I felt so cold, I was shivering but the kindness from the people in the ambulance was very warm. In any other normal situation I would have been embarrassed, I had vomit all over myself and as I was unable to go to the toilet I had pooped in my pants.
But I did not care once you stop breathing all the little things seem trivial. I felt a sense of vulnerability; it was weird like I was in the mind of the clients I had worked with as a personal care assistant. I’ve helped shower and assist clients in the toilet, but never with the thought of how they must feel to have the need for someone to do that for them.
In a way it was like being transported back to childhood where I was being taken care of by my mother. It was not embarrassing it was just the way it was, you can’t do everything yourself, you need help.
Being in the emergency ward at the hospital, I could hear patients coming in and out. But I did not care that noise meant that I was alive. The nurses do such a great job, they have to deal with so much but they take it in their stride. I suppose after you work in the health care industry for a long period of time, you get used to a little bit of chaos.
If I have learnt anything from this experience it is to appreciate everything in life. Especially the people who help preserve life, it may seem like a trivial thing but it really is the small things that make such a difference.
An EpiPen does not look like much but it can save a life. Now I carry an EpiPen everywhere I go, I also try and avoid eating foods I’m allergic to but sometimes it’s easy to eat something wrong by mistake.
Now if I see someone vomiting, I won’t just assume that they are drunk. I will take the time to find out what is really wrong. It can be all the difference between life and death.