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Anniversaries and All the Stuff That Happened

Editorial note: Trigger warning – This story discusses an emergency hospital visit and near-death experience.

Those that don’t have a chronic illness, especially an invisible illness, cannot possibly know what it feels like. Once you have a chronic illness like COPD, anniversaries become a very important part of your disease.

Getting closer

Every year as the date gets closer, the memories begin to creep into my sleep and haunt my dreams. Nothing is crueler than waking in the middle of the night, alone. Everything is still, it’s cold and pitch black, and nothing is stirring. You are alone with your thoughts.

Frightening

Replays become more frequent as the date draws near. The feeling is frightening. Returning to that day, that time, that night, that year. It started out as such a quiet night and ended with the Wee-O-O-Wee-O screech of my ambulance. So many lights and the boots of firemen, paramedics, and police on my kitchen floor.

Vital signs absent

My heart is pounding out of my chest and I am gasping for precious air. Please fill my lungs. Why won’t the air go in? I am trying so hard to draw air in. It feels like I have hit a brick wall and the air just won’t go in.

Hands touch me

Voices are telling me that I will be okay. “Trust me,” I can faintly hear someone talking. “You are not going to die on my watch!” Then among the beeps of machines and the lights that are flashing, what sounds like a command. “Intubate.”

Fading to white

Just then I feel strange like I’m fading to white. The next thing I hear is, “VSA.” I can feel the beginning of the incredible nausea that is to come. The bile is filling in my throat.

Someone is pounding on my chest. Someone else that I don’t know says, “Here we go Barbara, can you hear me? I am going to help you breathe now.” She tilts my head back and she invades my throat.  I hear her say, “I’m in.” Then the gagging feeling of not accepting this foreign object. Just then my heart and lungs beginning to slow and relax. No more gasping, I can hear that up and down and the in and out of the machine that will be my life and breath for the next 5 days.

Thank you so much

Oh, I want to thank you so much. I think of how wonderful it feels. As the oxygen nourishes my lungs and fills my body my mind chants, thank you, thank you, thank you. Life is returning. My body is alive. I can feel the hands cutting away the restriction of my clothing. Then another strange voice, “Barbara, you are going to feel a pinch” with a needle going in my hand.

Who all is here?

There are lots of people that I don’t know in my room and they keep using my name. It draws me back to my body. In my mind, I am answering them but they don’t seem to hear me. I can’t hear me either. But I know what I want to say, I just can’t get them to hear me.

Finally, “Your family is here, Barbara. Do you want to talk to them?”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Vittoria
    2 weeks ago

    Bless you Barbara. I was so anxious as I read your story. I wanted to jump in and help you. You write so realistically about your experience that I had tears in my eyes. I alternated between wanting to help you and wondering if this would happen to me. I was short of breath by the end of your story. One of my fears is suffocating at the end. I need to read more about this with the link that Melaniem posted by Leon. Thank you for sharing your journey and I’m so happy you are here to do that.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Vittoria, thank you so much for your kind words. I have shared my journey so that others will know that they are not alone in their struggle. Anniversaries do have such strong emotions attaches to them. Thank you again for commenting. We appreciate every comment. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi again, Vittoria, and thanks for your comment here to Barbara. I’m sure she will be gratified to read what you had to say.

    As well, I understand how you may feel anxious and apprehensive about ‘suffocating at the end’. Sometimes, it can create genuinely frightening emotions when one thinks about the end of life. Hopefully, they will be fleeting thoughts and we can get on with living our lives currently. It certainly is what I strive to do – focus on the here and now, enjoy what is in front of me, and not dwell on the unknown future ‘end’.

    Should you have any questions or concerns when you read the reference material (for which Melanie provided a link), please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any other member of the COPD.net team.

    Warm regards,
    Leon (site moderator COPD.net)

  • TracyCarnahan
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you Barbara, for sharing this experience with us. I was so gripped with anxiety for you while reading it. I’ve been in stage 4 COPD since 2008 and was not expected to live this long. I have often been asked if or when I was intubated but I’ve never been, thank God. It scares me to even think of it. Now , because of you I have a better understanding of what it is. Maybe when it’s my turn your story will help me through. So Thanks.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    I certainly hope my story helps you TracyCarnahan. Our fear is only of the unknown. Once it happens to you a few times the fear dissipates. I have been intubated serval times and now it holds no fear for me. I hope that you find the peace that you need now and in the future. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • melaniem moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks so much @tracycarnahan, we are glad to hear that Barbara’s story was helpful to you- it is so amazingly descriptive, you feel like you are in her shoes experiencing it! I also wanted to share another article with you from our contributor Leon that has more information on intubation, the process, and what to expect: https://copd.net/living/intubation-ventilators/. Thanks for your comment tonight. ~Melanie (COPD.net team member)

  • Janet Plank moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Barbara, I held my breath until the end. I’m grateful that you shared that and best of all, that you are able to.
    Janet (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you Janet Plank. I appreciate your kind words. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

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