My worst memory is the night of December 13, 2008, when I almost died.
I have an abnormally small throat, so any illness of the respiratory tract is a bit more serious for me. I had been fighting throat and nasal congestion since Dec. 7, with a bad cough. At around 11pm to 12 midnight on Dec. 13, my cough increased in severity so that I was coughing so hard that I was alternately choking and retching. This scared me quite badly, as I was unable to breathe for a while. I was in no condition to think clearly enough to call 911, and I did not know how long it would last.
A nurse friend at church, the next day, told me that was very dangerous what I went through, and that I should see the doctor first thing Monday morning (the 15th). She told me I could die from this due to my small airway. So I saw the doctor at the UCSF student health services clinic, who put me on Atrovent inhaler, Pseudovent pills, and recommended an emergency medical alert system like LifeLine since I live alone and have a higher risk of airway obstruction. The doctor also referred me to pulmonology to see if they can do something about my airway. I had been evaluated a year or so ago by UCSF craniofacial clinic for a major surgery (involving simultaneous osteotomy and forward distraction of both jaws) to open the airway, but concluded I was too risky for this surgery due to the fact I have no functional TMJ on either side of the mandible. Earlier in the fall, the doctor mentioned that there was a chance I might need a permanent tracheostomy in the future. Of course, I really hope not, because I've had tracheostomies before and they are not pleasant (that's an understatement). I would really like to keep using my voice, because I need it to do presentations in my research at UCSF as a PhD student!
Fortunately, I made it through that night, so I could travel home to visit family in Fort Wayne, IN
, Dec. 16-Jan. 3.
I was harshly reminded that night that life is quite fragile (as if I really needed that reminder, as I've had many other close calls before).
Life is a miracle, so treasure it!
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)