It started out as a regular day in February 2017. There was nothing extraordinary about it, and not the slightest hint or sign that I would go through one of the most profound and fearsome of human experiences – a close shave with death.
The fanfare of the recent family wedding was over, leaving behind warm reminiscences of the happy celebration that it had been. I had excitedly brushed up my dancing ahead in order not to be caught unprepared when the celebratory beats took over, in what promised to a very joyful event. And indeed it was. Music was superlative and totally irresistible, thanks to expert arrangements by my dear music-director brother. Having resisted all attempts to be seated at the reception, explaining that all I wanted to do was dance, not eat, LOL, I danced away, as did we all, from engagement through to the reception! So I was exhausted, but exhilarated. A very happy day ended, and the next day, Sunday, was spent recuperating.
And so the next Tuesday, off I went to the gym/spa. Mundane, habitual stuff, or so I thought, until I started to notice an insidious buildup of reactions. First the burning pain from whatever was mixed into the massage ointment. Then dizziness and nausea, and a feeling of blacking out, but I cannot for the life of me fully describe the succession of sensations; rather like gradually losing control of one’s senses, or falling uncontrollably into a foggy drugged sleep, or shutting down, so to speak, all accompanied by extreme thirst. Anyway, I dragged myself out of the steamer and laid me down for some time. Thinking I was better, I tried again for the steamer, but this time my reaction was more serious/acute and I felt I was losing consciousness really quickly, so I gave up on that, rested again, then showered and left.
But that was just the end of Part I. I stopped by a friend’s office, where he gave me some papers to study, but I alerted him from the onset that I probably wouldn’t make much sense of it in my condition. Next thing I knew, the now familiar sensation of weakness came on me, and I was very quickly losing strength, couldn’t walk, and had to be supported by two people to the car outside. Then, suddenly the unthinkable happened. I experienced the worst chest congestion and breathing difficulty of my life, as my chest cavity became constricted. There I was, struggling to breathe, to drag in air, groaning and wheezing in the process; I could not talk any more, could only gesture helplessly whilst struggling for air…ah! My God, it was beyond horrible. Scary. I said my last prayers in my head, thinking, this is it, this is the end! I ended up in hospital where I was revived and admitted for observation through the night.
The experience was an keen reminder of our mortality, and of how very fragile our lives are. I must say that I am grateful to still be among the living. So grateful.
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