Monday, November 29, 2010

A lifeline

For most of the day yesterday, I’d been dealing with chest pain. I didn’t say anything about it, thinking it would go away. It was probably just gas build-up in my chest. So I didn’t worry over it so much.

Later, however, the pain became pretty intense. It got to be so bad, I had to lie down. But as I lied there, flat on the bed (I thought if I lied flat, it would help), the pain only worsened. It grew and grew in intensity. It was pretty bad. I was on hat bed, writhing and in tears, as it felt like something was squeezing my heart and growing bigger by the second.

I tried sitting straight up, up against the pillows against the headboard, but that didn’t help. I tried squatting over the side, lying on my right side, standing up against the wall. Nothing. The pain only got worse.

Then something else happened, something I’d been dreading: I could hardly breathe.

At first, my breathing came out in short gasps of air. I tried to keep that air in my lungs but, soon, I could hardly breathe at all.

“Breathe!” I instructed myself. “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!”

I struggled for air that was quickly disappearing from my lungs. I started to panic and worry over what to do. I’d tried breathing exercises earlier but that didn’t help. And I was running out of air fast.

At one point, I didn’t even have enough air in my lungs to talk anymore.

I lied across the bed, gasping for air. As I did so, I started to remember a time I had gone through a similar episode. I was alone one evening and, all of a sudden, I wasn’t able to breathe anymore. It’s like my lungs had closed up. I’d struggled for air, even going outside to try to get some fresh air. That is where I passed out on the ground. After I woke up from that, I could breathe okay. But what had happened before then is that I had been up in the stars of the night sky. The stars had been so close that I could almost reach out and touch them. That experience had been very frightening. I shuddered as I remembered it, hoping it would not happen again. What if I didn’t wake up this time?

I started to wish someone in my family was there to help me. Millie, Allison, Elizabeth, Jeanette, Melissa, my mom – even my cousin, Carol. A familiar face. Family. I wished so hard that someone in my family was there to help.

But I was alone in this struggle to breathe. Then I realized, no, I’m not alone. I’m not. I could turn to God. And that’s what I did.

With nothing else to help me breathe again, I started to silently pray for help. I just prayed and prayed for air to return to my lungs.

Soon, the pain in my chest lessened and I could breathe again. Thank God! I sat up, breathing normally now, so thankful for this air in my lungs again. I said a prayer of thanks then got up and left the room. I went to the kitchen and drank some water. I went to check on the kids, who were in the bathroom with hubby, having their bath. I told hubby what happened and he told me to sit down. After I did that, the remaining pain in my chest disappeared.

As I sat there, I started to think of what I should have done to get some help. I know I should have run out to get help from my husband, but I didn’t have the strength. A call to 911 might have been in order – but there is no phone in that room. And, anyway, I’m not exactly 100% sure how a deaf person should call 911. I mean, we were taught in high school to dial 911, wait a few moments, then say we are deaf and what the emergency is. I am not sure if that method would be very effective.

Then I thought, what about my cell phone? What if I could text for help? Would I be able to text for help if I was having another episode of being unable to breathe?? It was still better than nothing.

I thought for a few minutes. I had to think about the very few people I know in Eugene who I text. Finally, I decided on one of the moms of Jennifer’s friends. Jen has had a sleepover at her house before and she and I often send text messages here and there. She’s an awesome lady, about my age, and very friendly. So I got my phone and texted her, asking her if she would be willing to call 911 for me if I ever needed that kind of help. When she replied, she said that she would do it and, actually, she even asked one of her girlfriends the same thing. (Is this some kind of network among friends I am unaware of? Hm.) She also said that if we needed somewhere safe to go, we were welcome at her place.

I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her profusely. Didn’t I say she was awesome?? She rocks! What a huge relief that this is in place, for emergencies.

Now I only hope that that particular kind of emergency doesn’t happen again. This was actually the second time I have had chest pain so bad, but it was not so bad before that I ended up struggling for air. Then again, I had been taken to the ER when I had bad chest pain that lasted for a long time. (They ran all these tests and couldn’t find anything wrong, so they just gave me something for the pain.) This time, even though that latest episode ended, I’ll get it checked out by my doctor. I still have some tightness in my chest this morning, so it might be a good idea to get that checked out.

At least I have someone to reach out to for help if there are any emergencies. Thank goodness for that!

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