Part 1 of 2 I was cold. Even with six blankets piled on me, I was shivering and could not get warm.
I held the EMT’s hand while in the ambulance. I worried that I was being too much trouble and kept apologizing.
I always apologize.
I latched on to my wife’s hand once we were together in the ER.
Her touch. Warm. Safe. Familiar.
I know her eyes. I observed them. They looked tired. Red around the edges.
I was a boat filling with water, and she kept me from sinking.
I was holding on for dear life and not sure if I was going to stay afloat.
What I didn’t know until much later, was that her worries for me, and the countless other challenges we were facing – financial, parenting, work, and the daily barrage of hate-filled politics and division, had worn her down to the point that she was praying a plane would fall from the sky and crash into us.
It sounds extreme now, but at the time, she just wanted it all to be over.
She remembers the moment as if it were yesterday.
She thought the warm sunshine and the fresh air might help, so she encouraged me to take a short walk. And she needed a break.
I started out alone, made it as far as a bench across the street from our home, and frantically called her to come sit with me. I couldn’t handle being alone.
She joined me. Like a young child, I put my head in her lap, and began to cry.
She remembers hearing a plane flying overhead and longed for it to crash into us.
“Death would be easier than this.” She thought to herself.
It was all too much.
It is too much.
Cold fluid from a clear bag filled my veins. I began to shiver. More blankets.
I looked and smelled like a basket of dirty laundry.
The sounds and sights of the emergency room plowed through my head like a train.
My arms burned, my heart raced, my vision was foggy.
And I was trying to come up with a way to tell my daughter that I was dying.
I told Kristin that I needed her to be in the room when we told our daughter that I was dying. She just looked at me then told me to close my eyes and get some rest.
That’s her way of telling me to shut the hell up.
My head was telling me I was dying. My stomach was telling me I was dying. WebMD was telling me I was dying.
But I wasn’t dying.
I didn’t have colon cancer – even though I had every indication of cancer based on the bowel movement color-chart on WebMD.
The echocardiogram showed that my heart was healthy – even though I could feel it beating not only in my chest, but in my ears, and in my toes. Kristin had to hide the three blood pressure monitors we have at home.
I wasn’t having a stroke, even though I told Kristin that I thought my pupils were different sizes and my arm hurt.
God bless her.
I’ve since learned that I was in the throes of a prolonged panic attack, and I did not understand what was going on.
It had taken control of my body, mind, and soul. And I had allowed it to do so.
I have always been a worrier. My brain on spin cycle – fixated on the what-ifs. Spinning out of control – especially at night.
We purchased our home in early 2017. Hurricane Harvey made landfall south of us not all that long after we started to feel settled. Harvey stalled above our community, bringing devastation and destruction to many.
We did not flood, but three weeks after the storm while I was cooking eggs, I noticed that the eggs kept sliding to the left of the pan. I wondered if the stove needed balancing.
The stove wasn’t off balance.
Our kitchen floor had dropped three inches. Cracks formed in our door frames and walls.
Our home’s foundation was failing due to the saturation of the ground around and under our home.
If that wasn’t enough, we also discovered that the plumbing under our home was busted due to the sinking of the foundation.
At night I could hear cracking in our walls and the sound of dripping water.
I would lay awake – wide-eyed. The moonlight, once comforting and peaceful, jeered at me through the blinds. I tried to close him out, but he always found his way in.
If I dozed off, I would experience a sudden sensation of falling. It would startle me awake, my heart racing, my breath fast and shallow.
I knew that our house was going to collapse.
I guess by keeping watch, I was preparing myself to bear witness to the destruction that I knew was coming.
I was not sleeping. I was not eating.
If you aren’t doing those two things, you are in big trouble.
My foundation had failed me. Literally and figuratively