The Times I Thought I Was Going To Die

The title isn’t click bait, although I wish it was. But, 1) I wouldn’t do that to my readers, and 2) the title is true. Looking back at all my life experiences, especially during the past year – I thought I was going to die twice. I was inspired to write this blog after listening to an episode of the You, Me and the Big C podcast on the subject of dying.

The first time I thought I was going to die, was the night before my bronchoscopy – they were going to collect a sample of the cancerous tumour inside my chest and, fit a stent in my airway so I could breathe again – this actually, failed and they had to think on their feet in the theatre room, and they decided to burn away the mass against my airway instead. Although this sounds like the near death experience, it wasn’t. During the night, my breathing was declining rapidly and I felt panic inside, like I was cherishing each breath because I thought it might be my last.

Scarily, you can see your oxygen levels on the machine. I would watch it drop. And every time it dropped, I pushed the button for help. But there’s so much of the nebulisers they can give you in a short space of time. To clarify, I’m not a doctor, but what I understand is that, if it dropped completely they wouldn’t have been able to do anything because the cancer would have been spreading. And I wasn’t in the cancer hospital anyway, the surgery was in the cardio ward.

The day before surgery - just before my breathing got a lot worse.
Just before my breathing got a lot worse, this was taken.

This particular experience, of thinking I was going to die was super scary for me. It’s almost like I knew if I was going to die, it wouldn’t be peaceful. It would be in struggle. And I’m absolutely grateful for the John Radcliffe hospital – they saved my life with that surgery, I really want to thank all the NHS nurses, doctors and surgeons that night. I’ll definitely be writing about my experience that night in depth in another blog.

The second time I thought I was dying was when I was having an SVT episode – at this point, I didn’t have a clue what that meant. My heartbeat was above 250+ bpm, which definitely is not normal. A healthy heartbeat is roughly 50-90bpm – and I read somewhere that if your heartbeat reaches 300bpm you’re going to die – whether that’s true or not – I don’t know. But during that time, that’s what was running through my mind. I really felt like I was dying.

My head was spinning, and everything seemed to echo in my ears. My body was sweating and my heart literally was beating out of my chest. A paramedic held me all the way to the ambulance, and I remember him saying: “just take this next step into the ambulance.” Followed by “I’ve got you.”

And during that exact moment, time seemed to stop and a rush of doom washed over me. But I was okay with it. My vision starting going blurry, and I was dipping in and out of consciousness, the paramedics were getting quieter, it’s okay Nicole, let go if you need to… i told myself. And then a split second later, I passed out – thinking I’d never wake up again. But here we are, can’t get rid of me that easily.

I don’t think I’m scared of dying anymore. If it’s anything like the experience I had the second time, it felt peaceful – like I accepted my fate, and I was okay with that. What do you think of dying? Have you had any experiences that you felt like you were going to die?

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