At the church that my wife Cathy and I attend, the senior pastor just started a new preaching series called “One Month to Live”. I am looking forward to this new series on living focused on eternity. When I went to bed Sunday night, May 2nd, I didn’t know that I would soon end up having a personal application for my life. I did, however, have a “premonition” that Cathy and I would be staying home from work. I had even suggested to Cathy that we both take the day off; jokingly referring to the new series; “One Month to Live”. I tried to bribe her with breakfast in bed.
I should probably state that I am in good health. I took control of my health and lost 30 pounds in the spring of 2009. I eat right and I exercise several times a week. Naturally, I have no reason to see myself having any health problems.
At 1:50 Monday morning, May 3rd, I awoke from a sound sleep in the middle of a deep sleep dream. My brain was screaming to me that something was wrong. In a panic I ran to the bathroom unable to breathe; my airways completely blocked. My mind was awake enough to let me know that I was choking to death. I could hear Cathy who was now awakened by my abrupt dash out of bed calling out as her sleepy brain tried to make sense of why I was gasping so loudly for oxygen.
It turns out that I was choking on my own vomit. The faces of so many “rock-stars” who had died this way came to mind. My lungs’ need for oxygen was screaming out for me to do something. I realized that if I wasn’t able to clear my passages, I would soon be dead. My body was in a full defense posture as what little oxygen was left in my body went to my brain to tell me to do the Heimlich maneuver on myself. I also pounded repeatedly on my chest to clear my airways. It is amazing to me that when God breathed His life into us; how much that same life fights to keep us staying alive.
After repeated attempts at the Heimlich maneuver on myself and pounding on my chest, my body vomited that which had been obstructing my airways. As I collapsed mentally and emotionally, I sat down on the bath tub; I could hear Cathy in the other room still trying to figure out what was going on and what to do; who to call.
I went back into our bedroom and held Cathy in my arms as the reality of our situation hit her and she could no longer hold back the tears. Cathy reminded me that that a friend of ours had also chocked almost to death in his sleep to the point that his oxygen depleted body went into a coma. He died a few years later after spending the rest on his life in a semi-vegetative, semi-paralyzed condition.
As I held Cathy in my arms, trying to make light of my near death experience, the theme of the “One Month to Live” series came back to my mind; “What would you do with one month to live?” I had experienced near death several times before; I’m sure that we all have. But this brought the question that had been asked only 15 hours earlier at church front and center; begging to be answered.
I spent the next hour alternating between sitting on the couch and walking from room to room still unable to get any deep breaths into my lungs. I would try to doze off to sleep, but my shortness of breath would return and my mind would slip into a panic as it would recall the whole traumatic event.
I’m kind of a “rub-a-little-dirt-on-it-and-it-will-be-OK” kind of person; but I still could not breathe correctly so Cathy drove me to the emergency room. I spent the next several hours letting doctors and nurses take tests and monitor my heart, lungs, and other vital signs as I laid on a hospital bed hooked up to oxygen trying to get my lungs filled with air. Eventually they said that I could go home. Cathy said that the doctor had some concerns about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the violent situation; she had seen some signs.
As I spent a few moments prior to being discharged removing all of the pads that were stuck on my body for the monitor and for the tests, I said to Cathy that this hadn’t been what I meant by suggesting that we should take the day off and stay home.
Several hours after my ordeal began; we went home, stopping at the drug store along the way to pick up a prescription. So after we came home, Cathy went right to bed to try to make up for her sleep deprivation. I wrote this blog at 7:50 Monday morning; exactly 5 hours after I was abruptly awoken from my sleep unable to breathe. I am still awake, trying to stop the traumatic flash backs in mind and trying to write down my thoughts before I return the bed. The question still awaits an answer from me; “How would you live your life if you knew that you had one month to live?”
Luke 12:15-21 And He (Jesus) said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' 18 So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." ‘20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
James 4:13-15 “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."