What is it like to die? Do you ever wonder about this? I do. At 54 this has been something I have thought about (well, not really, mostly I have avoided thinking about it) for a long time. This has definitely limited my quality of life.
Even though I have friends and family that have died or had near death experiences the whole process of dying frightens me. This fear is not about what happens after I die, where I go, or any of that – my fear is the process itself.
Last night I had a severe allergic reaction and went into anaphylactic shock and lost consciousness. How long could I last without help, 10 minutes, 20 minutes? Thankfully my wife called 911, and the paramedics arrived, opened my airway, got me breathing, and filled me with epinephrine quickly enough that I am here today and feeling pretty healthy.
What is most important for me is the process I went through. The experience between consciousness and unconsciousness was quite peaceful, so I assume that if I had died I would not ever have regained consciousness and it would have happened very peacefully.
This was such a relief to me that I could not shut up about it in the ambulance or at the hospital. Even today the whole thing has left me slapping my head with my palm. What other way would death happen? We were not built to die in some tortured and unnatural way, our bodies and minds have evolved by being born and dying just like all creatures do and the entire process is as natural as taking a breath or using the bathroom.
This is not meant to be offensive or disrespectful to terminally ill patients; this is intended to relate my feeling of relief at what is felt during the moments before death happens. And I want to stress that I do not know or claim to know any more than what and how I experienced my unique situation. But doesn’t it make sense that death is a natural process and when we are in that process it is comfortable? That is a BIG deal for me!
By knowing this I believe I will now live more fully and with less fear, and that it will improve the quality of my life. I am hoping that by sharing this, it may do some of that for you.
Now, the funny part of the story. I did have an EpiPen (auto injector with epinephrine), and I have practiced it in the past, at least a few times. First, let me tell you that you have to be pretty sure you are in dire straits before you jam a needle in your leg and by that time you are pretty much out of clear thinking territory.
Ok, so I had the EpiPen pointed the wrong way and also had my thumb over the wrong end where the needle comes out. Bad move. I auto injected the whole thing into my thumb! Sounds painful? It IS painful and worse I could not pull it back out. Those needles are very thick and longer than you think. You can lose a thumb that way because it stops the blood flow. The paramedic told me he had to work at pulling it out. Thankfully I was unconscious.
Only now is my thumb starting to get all the feeling back and believe me I have been rubbing it and keeping it warm! Anyway, all is fine now, but LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR EPIPEN IF YOU HAVE ONE! AND TAKE A REFRESHER EVERY 3 MONTHS!
One last special word about the paramedics, technicians, and others that help all of us when we are in trouble – THEY ARE ANGELS! I mean it, these people care, they do a great job, and I am very, very, very, grateful for them.
So, that is what happened on day 19,986 of my life.