when life hangs in the balance

They say there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. So it seems particularly fitting that a money nerd like me would face a near death experience on tax day. The exact date: April 15th of 2005.

I knew something wasn’t right long before that day. I’d felt sick for weeks. Unable to get out of bed. Too tired to cook or eat or expend any energy. I sought medical treatment, but my doctor was unable to diagnose me. Four times I visited her office; four times I walked away without a diagnosis or cure.

On the last day she handed me a referral card and wished me good luck. The specialist’s secretary was very sorry, but her earliest appointment was over one month away. I wept on the phone. I begged for an appointment. My protests were met with a friendly, “I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do.”

Two days later my failing body officially broke down. I went to move the laundry and found myself unable to catch my breath; incapable of walking up the stairs that led away from our basement. I sat on the bottom step and cried.

Fear and panic took over my mind. Is this how my life would end? My mind was spiraling. I felt light headed and dizzy. I crawled up the stairs and called my husband in an absolute panic. He drove me straight to the emergency room.

The physicians must have known my case was dire. Despite a waiting room full of patients they took me directly to an exam room. The physician’s assistant on call diagnosed my condition immediately. I was filled with radioactive dye and taken for a nuclear scan.

The PA called my doctor and hollered, “How could you have failed to figure this out? She has so many symptoms of this disorder!” I listened to all of this like a record playing in the background. Doctors and nurses rushed around me. They were putting IVs into my arm and asking questions; so many questions.

At the time my focus narrowed. My brain was obsessed with only one thought: Don’t Die. I’d like to say I thought about living, but that thought was outside of my grasp. It wasn’t so much a desire to live as a deep urge not to die.

That night, when visiting hours were over and my husband left my bedside, I laid alone thinking. In the darkest hours I faced my greatest fears.

I tucked my face into my blanket and wept. In that very moment I could think of nothing else other than my existence. I wanted to live, but a voice kept echoing in the back of my head. It told me I might not survive. It told me my old life might not exist anymore.

Thankfully I survived that harrowing event. I am grateful to the doctors who saved me life during that emergency visit and the ones that followed.

My medical ordeal continues to this day, but the life and death scares for my condition are now over. After all of the doctors visits, surgery and a whole host of medical procedures I was lucky to move forward.

My mom is currently in the hospital fighting for her life. And for the first time in a long time the fears of mortality and medicine rage.

I am suddenly and painfully reminded of a medical system that failed me. A broken system that appears to be failing my mom too.

My mom embodies kindness. She is the kind of woman who puts the desires of others above herself. She doesn’t deserve any of the pain that life has unfairly brought to her.

If you pray. If you believe in a higher spirit. If you believe that sending positive vibes into the world will bring positivity then send a special wish out into the universe for my mom. She needs all the help she can get right now.