I bet my 2017 started off way crazier than any new year’s party any of y’all have ever been to.
No? You don’t think? You had a CRAAAZZYY new year’s you say? You partied hard and sang and danced and laughed and partied more?
Well, the first thing I did this year was die.
No joke. I died for 20 minutes. And if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have a CPR-savior around at the time, I’d be dead right now, still. At the age of 29, I had a cardiac arrest.
They pumped my heart and pumped me full of adrenaline and took me took the hospital. They plugged me into a bunch of machines, put tubes down my throat and put me on ice.
Okay, so there’s probably a much less scary, though possibly scarier-sounding technical term for all that hospital mumbo-jumbo, but I sound much more tough and badass this way so we’ll leave it at that.
Apparently, the first sign of consciousness was that I tried to rip my tubes out of my throat. Since I’m such an unconscious badass (cough cough…yesss…) they then had to restrain my hands and strap them down to prevent my die hard escape attempts from succeeding.
Little did they understand how much I’ve always persevered in life.
The hand straps might have slowed me down temporarily but I had been working on my core for a few months (what with the yoga, aerial silks, booty barre -that’s right, I went there and gym workouts on the regular). It had been a few days since I worked out my abs I guess, so perhaps the hospital did me a favor here.
Either way, I decided (again, unconsciously) that if my hands could not come to me, I would come to my hands. I lifted my torso and stretched towards my goal. Alas, when you’re the only person in a hospital bed surrounded by a room of family, friends, nurses and doctors watching you, it’s hard to get away with anything.
As a middle child of three, I was used to being able to slip away unnoticed if I needed to. But when monitors beep and betray your every move, and mom’s watchful hawk eyes are zoomed in, there’s really no going anywhere in that place.
Mind you, as an unconscious person basically on life support, there’s nowhere I could’ve gone anyways. Even if I HAD managed to unplug myself, what then?
Well, I may have been able to move while unconscious but I never said anything about thinking things through then now did I?
But I will say I’m proud of whatever wild, subconscious, animal, fight and flight instinct awakened within me at the time and was like hospital?! Aw HELL NO!!!
Once I realized my efforts at escape were futile, my next act as supreme unconscious leader was to signal someone to bring me a pen and paper so I could write messages to my family.
When they told me this later, the thought sounded so sweet.
Awww, I wrote my family love notes! I thought. Words of hope and comfort. Lasting words filled with meaning.
My family spared me the truth until later, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The truth was, my notes did bring some relief. As I scribbled words to my haggard and tired family members in the ICU, they breathed a collective sigh of relief. My notes were the first sign that my brain wasn’t damaged.
Because, oh yeah, I forgot to mention, apparently brain damage is a usual side effect of hearts stopping.
But out my notes came, in perfect cursive handwriting. The handwriting that defines my personality – just the right balance between elegant perfectionism and lazy efficiency.
And what notes from my unconscious did I write to my beloved fiancé and parents as I tapped the paper impatiently with my strapped down hand so they would move the page under my pen faster?
Were they notes of love?
Affectionate memories spewed from my half-awake mind?
Were they babbled sentences? Confused by the cold and the slow thawing out of my brain?
Not at all. In fact, I was quite clear. Simple and direct and sassy. At times rather fierce and impatient and flustering, so I’m told.
Nearly all of them said the same thing. The thing I’d been trying to tell everyone for days. The thing I’d tried to do myself before they strapped me to the goddamn hospital bed.
“Take out the fucking tubes,” I wrote, in my gentle, loving cursive. “Take out the tubes. Take them out.”
Over and over again I wrote those words. As though my anxious scribbles and impatient pen-tapping could threaten them all into a state of obedience. As though I had any authority, strapped to a hospital bed, barely conscious, to override the doctors and nursing staff.
Yet, I persisted.
“Take out the tubes…Take out the tubes…Take them out…Now.”
You gotta hand it to me, I thought later. Even on the brink of death, I knew what I wanted and could still achieve persistent and undeterrable levels of bitchiness. I was like freaking Patrick Henry if he’d been a drug-riddled hospital patient – give me liberty or give me death!
But mostly, take out those fucking tubes.
I never got the satisfaction of taking out the tubes myself. Shoot, I don’t even remember having the tubes in the first place or when the hospital staff took them out even. I was told later the moment of tube-removal was quite glorious. Apparently I was in elated spirits, or so I was told afterwards. So elated that in my hoarse, throaty, barely-audible whisper, I beckoned my sister closer to me. She leaned her ear right over my mouth, as I lay, still prone and mostly unconscious, in the bed, waiting to hear my special, couldn’t wait request. She leaned closer and I whispered to her…a joke.
She transmitted what I said as the room waited, breathless for my first words. A pause, then a laugh. The doctors came in, I motioned my sister close once more. Another request, she wondered?
Nope. Another joke.
I kept em coming, knocking em outta the park. Joke after joke for at least an hour, according to my sister. I wish I could remember what I said because apparently, if I could, I’d have my own comedy special on Netflix by now. Lord knows after all those hospital bills I could use the money.
More nurses came in. My family and fiancé sat around. Disbelief turned into laughter. Laughter turned into tears. Joyous, happy, reuniting, sleep-deprived, freeing tears.
I guess laughter really is the best medicine after all. Just not for me, for the people who needed it the most. The people who sat with me and witnessed it all.
Lucky for me, I was just unconscious.