I Really Don’t Want to Die: A Birthday Eve Story

So I turned 50 less than ago. 🙂

I’d been looking forward to it since my previous birthday. Who doesn’t want to be fifty and fabulous, right? LOL

I had a good day, and that’s saying a lot. I woke up at seven thirty, had my coffee, checked my Facebook feed for some birthday lovin’, and settled in.

I spent all day in my jammie bottoms and my favorite ratty t-shirt. Comfort personified!

But I was also a little anxious because I almost didn’t make it to 50.

AN UNLIKELY SUSPECT

That Sunday night, my Birthday Eve, I made fried egg sandwiches for dinner. It’s one of my specialties. There was a *tiny* piece of egg left on my plate, which I decided to pop in my mouth. It couldn’t have been more than half an inch in diameter.

Well, the damn thing didn’t exactly cooperate.

It got lodged in my throat and I was completely, utterly, helplessly unable to breathe.

I think time actually stopped for a moment, as the gravity of the situation hit me. I reacted immediately, trying my best to stay calm.

I stood up and put my hand around my throat so CeAnne, who – thankfully – was right there with me, would know what was going on.

She jumped into action right away, starting the Heimlich maneuver. Nothing. I was expecting it to be easy-peasy, like in the training films: One or two maneuvers and the food flies out of your mouth, allowing you to breathe again.

Well, maybe it does happen like that to some people, but in my case, CeAnne had to do it about a dozen times. Nothing came flying out of my mouth. I was getting pretty scared. Nothing had ever felt so urgent in my life.

I felt myself starting to panic and also thinking, “I don’t want to die!” I did my best to stay calm and not make a terrible situation worse.

Finally, after so many attempts, the egg moved a little bit in my throat, just enough for me to start gasping (very slowly) for breath. It was extremely difficult, so I had her do the Heimlich a few more times to help the egg along.

It worked. I was able to swallow the stupid, tiny piece of egg and started breathing again. They weren’t easy breaths; I sounded like a bad horror movie sound effect. My eyes were watering and my nose was running.

I sat down on the edge of the couch and took deliberately slow breaths, staying calm, and feeling some relief. I didn’t feel like I was quite out of the woods yet, as breathing was still quite difficult, but after some time, I was finally able to cough and burp – sure signs that things were getting better.

Finally, I was able to take a sip of my Diet Pepsi. It felt good going down my throat. I blew my nose a few times, wiped my eyes, and was able to tell CeAnne that I was okay.

There were a few tears, a big hug, and lots of heavy breathing. My stomach hurt in a way it never had before and I had a SCREAMING headache, with an equally bad case of acid reflux.

But I was going to be okay.

MY WIFE, MY SUPERHERO 🙂

I can’t get over the fact that CeAnne literally saved my life. Though it felt like it lasted forever, in reality, it was probably a little more than a minute that I was without oxygen. But if I was going to die, it wasn’t going to be because of a damn piece of egg!

After showering my wife with the appropriate amount of gratitude and a couple of lengthy, tight hugs, we went about the rest of our evening. Thankfully, it was much more sedate.

REVELATIONS

I decided to post what happened on my Facebook page. So far, there have been 65 reactions and 34 comments. That surprised me. Not that I gauge my worth by how my posts live and die, whether anyone “likes” them or not, but having that many people reach out to me just to say they were glad I was okay was somewhat humbling.

As a woman who constantly struggles with feelings of worth and insignificance, it was heartwarming to see that maybe – just maybe – people cared about me. They did care if I lived or died. They might even miss me.

I thought, Maybe I do matter.

I wrote this post about how I came to that very same conclusion after a visit from an old friend this summer. And it turns out I was right – it IS one of those things that you have to learn and re-learn, over and over again.

Another huge revelation I had was that my first thought was “I don’t want to die!” As someone whose brain defaults to “suicidal” when I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, I realized how much I didn’t want to die.

There are different levels of suicidal ideation (SI): The one where you have passive, fleeting thoughts that pop in and right back out of your head, the one where you start entertaining the idea of not being here anymore, and the one where you have a plan and actual intent.

When I get to the point of SI, I’m almost always in the second group, but occasionally I get to that lowest tier and feel like I’m in real trouble.

But this isn’t a post about SI. It’s just that I realized that most of the times I get to the point of SI, I don’t really want to die. I’m not even thinking “I want to die.” I’m thinking “I can’t take this anymore” or “I don’t want to be here anymore.”

As you can imagine, I was quite happy to realize this. It’s not that I actually want to die, it’s just that I don’t want to feel the pain I’m feeling anymore. Can you relate?

GRATITUDE

I’m grateful for another year of life. I’m grateful for being able to stay out of the hospital this year. (Yay, me!!) I’m grateful for friends and family, even strangers. I’m grateful for my support team, every last one of them. I’m grateful that people don’t give up on me. And I’m grateful someone is reading this right now and thinking, “Yeah, me too!”

Thanks for reading, Warriors. As always, keep on Keepin’ it Real!

This post was previously published on Depression Warrior and is republished here with permission from the author.

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