I almost died a few weeks ago.
Yep. This bulletproof 38-year-old husband and father of three just about kicked the bucket.
I didn't see the flash of light.
I didn't see my grandparents or other friends and family waving me to come join them.
I didn't even see myself lying on the bed in the ER or the ICU writhing with pain.
But I almost died.
I've had diabetes for 23 years now. Diagnosed with Type I (which used to be called Juvenile Diabetes) when I was 15 years old, I've known the ins and outs of daily insulin shots, blood sugars, two eye surgeries, good foot care and making sure you take care of your self when you get "normal" illnesses like colds, influenza and the stomach flu. I get my flu shot every year just because I don't want the latest version of the influenza virus racking my body.
Two weeks before Christmas, my wife Dana came down with the stomach flu. Nothing extra-ordinary - it took its turn making her feel pretty crappy for about 36 hours and it was gone. Dana didn't have any vomiting, everything came out the "other" end. Enough said about that. On Monday (Dec. 17) afternoon, I started to feel like she had given me the gift that keeps on giving. Felt kind of "squishy", tired, etc. On Tuesday morning, Dana and Jackson headed off to school, while Gracie and I stayed home and I started vomiting.
Just about every 2 hours.
Couldn't keep anything down. Not even water or hot spearmint tea or 7UP. Nothing.
Bless Dana's heart and soul, she took Gracie to work with her at lunch time so I could be in misery by myself. If you've ever tried to entertain an almost-four-year-old while you are lying on the couch hoping you don't puke in the next five minutes, you know my agony.
By 5 p.m. when Dana came home, I was very dehydrated and was starting to have some horrible body aches. By 8 p.m., I had puked more than I could imagine and was starting to feel like I was going to crawl out of my skin - everything hurt. Dana make a quick phone call to a coworker to come watch the kids and took me to the ER. Once we got to the hospital, I realized I was so out of balance and disoriented that I couldn't walk into the hospital on my own.
Our first idea that it was more than "just the flu" was when the ER nurses and doctors tried to get my blood sugar reading on the glucometer. All it would say was "HIGH." That isn't good. In the next 20 minutes, I started having UNBEARABLE abdominal and back pains. That wasn't good either.
Well, to make an already long post a bit shorter, from the time we arrived at the ER at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday night to the time they got me settled down at 2 a.m. in the ICU, I had three IV lines in me (one in each arm and one surgically inserted in my neck), abdominal and chest X-rays, an abdominal CT scan, a catheter, a rectal examination, lots of morphine (which didn't touch the pain), quite a bit of Loratab (similar to Vicodin and is my new pain medication of choice) I finally got rid of the pain and got to sleep.
The culprit of my pain, misery and near death experience?
A high blood sugar of over 700 and a body temperature of 94. Yep, the dehydration knocked my diabetes completely out of control and my body started shutting down. For those of you who don't know, a normal blood sugar is anywhere from 70 to 120.
After two nights in the ICU and two more nights in the "regular" floor of the hospital, I got to go home. I was tired, weak as a newborn kitten, but was glad to be home with my loving wife and kids. At church the Sunday morning before Christmas, life took on a new meaning. I reflected on the past week and realized just how many people were praying for me, who came to visit in the hospital, and how important I am to those close to me (especially a seven-year old and a three-year old).
I'm going to appreciate the gifts that God has given me more.
I'm going to give my wife and kids (and anyone else who will bear it) an extra hugs and kisses.
God has given me an extra chance at life. And I'm going to do my best to make Him proud!
And I'm also going to take extra care of my body and a closer watch on my blood sugars.