When the picture was taken, nobody was thinking that it may be the last shot of me alive. Everyone just thought that it was funny that I kept asking for my phone. Ostensibly to tweet my status, but kept falling asleep because I was drugged to the hilt.
A few hours later I was "code blue". Completely unresponsive. Heart out of rhythm and racing. Blood pressure bottomed out. Not breathing on my own. For all basic definitions, I was dying. The hospital Rapid Response Team flooded the ICU.
In the weeks prior to this I had been battling the cold and sore throat that wouldn't go away. Then a small puncture on my leg (who knows what I ran into) turned into an infection. For a few days I ran a fever up near 104 degrees. And so finally realizing that nothing I was doing was working, I headed to the ER. A short time later I was loaded into an ambulance for an hour and a half of lights and siren trip to Denver. Not fun. Not recommended. The ER Doc said that had I not come in when I did, I wouldn't have made it another night.
So I was thinking, as they brought me to the ICU that I was out of the woods. Being treated with fluids and big bad antibiotics. An MRI of my leg. Lots of Docs. Perhaps a surgery to remove an abscess in my ankle. I felt to be in good hands.
And that's when I coded. I had been given too much narcotic for pain and with all my other stuff going wrong, my body said enough was enough.
I don't remember any of it. But as I was coming to, I began to hallucinate. I believed that I was in Mexico. I believed for a time I was dead. Then I decided that I had been sold as a study experiment. I told every person that came near me how much I hated what they were doing to me. As the narcotics wore off, I came back to reality and I spent a good deal of time telling my caretakers that I was really very sorry for my words. I also had some visitors. Included in them was noted irrigation designer Larry Rogers, who really showed what a great person he is. I'll never forget his kind words, although I was so drugged up I could barely understand English.
The cardiologist who had a big part in saving my life stopped to talk to me on an early morning set of rounds. He told me simply, that no one usually gets up from the situation I was in. And if they do, it is because they made a decision to fight. I listened carefully. Still in the ICU, I knew that my situation was still serious. And while I wish there were Bright Lights and Jedi Masters in my memory of choosing life, I don't remember a thing from that time. But the heart doctor was clear, I fought hard and well. And for a reason.
Ten days in the hospital. And not a chance to answer Peter McCormick's recent Open Letter. Peter, here is your answer. I'm alive. And the sense of gratitude I have for that fact is overwhelming. The rest is going to be cake.
I'll skip the lectures about taking care of one's self and about doing your advanced directives and stuff. Not the point here. But for me, the clear and wonderful thought is that it wasn't my time to go. And so that means that it must be my time to do better. Much better.
I was Dead. And that just wasn't good enough.