Monday, March 11, 2013

Why am I still alive?

You may guess from the title that I have a potentially ultimate life altering story to tell.

Last week we had a big snow storm where I work in Northern Virginia.  During the work week I stay at my condo about a 30 minutes walk from work.  For the past 4 months, I have been walking to work. It is great, kind of a walking meditation and communing with reality at about 3 miles per hour instead of zipping by from behind a mobile box of steel and glass.  I thought, "great, I can experience walking in snow, should be beautiful." 

That morning, the temperature was just above freezing and the snow fell very heavy compressing on the ground semi-melting.  All the snow plows were out and threw all the snow onto the sidewalks.  So there I was slogging through about 5 inches of slush, it was a little like walking in soft sand above high tide at the beach.  What a workout.  I made it to work and was a bit tired. Awesome, I have developed a bit of endurance over the past few months.

After work, I check my blood sugar, I am a 41 years a type I diabetic. Levels are good, eat some melon left by the cafeteria staff and head out for home, confident that I am well equipped for the return walk.  Not much has been cleared from the sidewalks, so a similar slog back home.  All is well as I cross over the commuter rail track about a block from my condo. 

As I pass the rail station and step off a 4 inch curb onto the drive to the station parking lot, my knees buckle.  I think, where did that sudden fatigue come from.  I stumble across the drive and land in a snow drift.  A kind man stops his car and helps me stand up, asking if I am alright.  I say my legs are a little tired and that I will sit and rest on a rail station bench a few feet away for a few minutes.  I sit down, say thank you and am again all alone with my thoughts.

While I sit there taking stock, I realize that instead of gaining strength from resting, I am getting weaker.  I realize that my blood sugar level are steadily dropping.  I need to get some sugar into my system.  I try to get up, but I am so weak that I cannot move my self along the bench, let alone stand.

Ok, time to call for help.  I pull out my cell phone, press the button and now response.   I hold the power button to turn it on and the Nexus icon comes up for a few seconds and turns off. What? I had plenty of power when I left work! Why is it dead now? 

I remember shortly after leaving the building I had received a call. The wind was blowing so bad that I could only understand a word or two.  They said that they would call back later.  As is my habit, I hit the button to turn off the screen and put in in the holster.  Somehow the screen must have locked on completely draining the battery.

There I sit for over an hour at an empty dark train station with a dark winter coat that know one can see from the road.  Nobody is around because all the commuter trains were cancelled for the snow storm.  There was no foot traffic, and I don't remember seeing any cars after the one with the man that helped me stand up.

I realize that I am in real trouble and that I will likely die before some discovers my body the next morning.  Except for a moment of anger as I call myself an idiot for letting this happen, I am completely calm and present with the situation. I don't fear dying and there is no pain or comfort, so don't think that I am suffering in any way.  Actually it was very beautiful. Snow flakes whisking around each on its own errand.  The detail of each wood grain stands out on the post directly in front of me.  Time starts to become discontinuous.  Five minutes seems like twenty, then twenty minutes seem like five.

I look across the tracks and there is a Fosters hamburger restaurant.  Only 100 steps away lies my salvation.  There is only the guy working there, appearing in each window in turn and he goes about his business.  He can't possibly see me as it is quite dark and I am in a dark corner with a dark coat. I think to myself, I really have to get there! 

I must get there, but as hard as I try, I can't move my body.  I am looking at the sign on the post and realize that it is visually fractured.  Angular pieces with letters start to shift.  Then suddenly the rail sign becomes the menu at Fosters with all of the offerings in fractured pieces shifting as I try to focus on some of it. That is really strange! Am I remembering the last time I was eating at Fosters?

Something is touching the fingers on my left hand.  A voice says "Blood sugar 49."   49! I should be fairly lucid at 49, been there done that. What am I hallucinating!

The voice says "Drink this, it is fruit punch." A straw is put to my lips.  I then see a stretcher and am moving onto it. I then am told "move to the bed" as I am helped on to a hospital bed.  I start to gain more mental continuity as they are asking me for my insurance, medical and other personal information.

As I talk to the emergency room nurse, I start to shiver violently, my tee shirt, shirt and sweater are soaked from the the hypoglycemia sweating and I have a bit of hypothermia as the nurse has trouble getting a temperature. Replacing my shirts with a hospital gown, within about 20 minutes, I am back to normal and ready to go home. Call a cab, go home and get back to work at a normal 9am.

I don't remember walking across the tracks to the restaurant. I don't remember being put into the ambulance, the ambulance driving to the hospital or even being wheeled down the hallway in the hospital to the alcove in the emergency room where I recovered.  Except for the few flashes, I was totally unconscious.

So how did I get across the tracks?  I remember someone saying I had collapsed on the counter at Fosters causing them to call 911.  I take this to mean that no-one helped me there.

So it seems my unconscious body saved itself. My mind was not strong enough to move my body and I had calmly resigned myself to sit there. It would have been a very easy peaceful death.  But my body really wanted me to live and when my mind gave up, my body took over. 

People often ask, "why am I alive?", looking for their purpose.  Now I get to ask, "why am I still alive?" My body believes that I still have some purpose to fulfill, therefore on its own volition saved me from a sure death. 

I still seek my next purpose.

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