The Day I Almost Died by Tina Harris

It was a warm, quiet summer morning.  It was early, the daylight was just starting to break through the trees.  As I was trying to open my eyes, I felt…off.  It’s first thing in the morning, I probably just need to go to the bathroom, I thought.  As I stood up out of bed, a crippling pain, radiating from my midsection, washed over me.  I felt nauseous and shuffled to the bathroom as quick as I could, just trying to make it to the toilet.  The pain was getting worse.  I thought to myself, my period has never been like this.  I hobbled out of the bathroom and went to the living room, where my two toddlers were happily watching cartoons in their pajamas.  I headed for the couch, and as I lowered myself down, the wave of pain, white-hot this time, overtook me and I fell onto the cushions.  I called for my oldest, Ryan, who was 4 at the time, “Ryan, baby, I need you to go upstairs and wake up your dad.  Tell him I’m sick and I need him right now.”  I tried to keep my voice as calm and soothing as possible, but inside, I was terrified.  I knew something was incredibly wrong with me.

A few minutes passed and my husband Roger came downstairs rubbing his eyes and looking concerned.  It only took one look and he rushed over to me, “Baby, what’s going on, you’re white as a sheet!”

“Something is really wrong, but I don’t know what.”  I explained what I was feeling, and I felt my energy slowly leaving me.  “I need to go to the hospital now. Call my mom, have her come get me, and you get the kids dressed.”

Roger grabbed the phone and dialed my mom and asked her to come over.  She came in the front door and immediately knew I needed help, quick.  She and Roger worked out that she would take me to her house, where her friend, who was a nurse, would meet us to have her assess my condition and Roger would bring the kids over to leave them with her while we figured out what was going on, and run to the hospital if needed.

When I got to my mom’s, they managed to help me inside, where Helen, after assessing my color, immediately took my blood pressure.  60/40.  “Oh shit.  Claire, call 911.  She needs an ambulance and the ER now.”

My mom dials 9-1-1, and as the ambulance arrives, my husband pulls in behind them.  My mom and the nurse give him the rundown as they are unloading the kids from the car, and Roger tells the EMT’s, “I’ll be right behind you. Go.”

The EMT’s get me on the gurney, load me up and start my IV.  They are monitoring my vitals, and the ER is 20 minutes away.  I hear them running off medical terms, push this, watch her closely, call the ER and have them ready, 60/40.  I’m losing consciousness.

The next time I open my eyes I’m surrounded by doctors and nurses, the EMT’s and I can hear Roger right behind me, reminding me it will be okay, and NO I absolutely WILL NOT leave my wife.

Things get blurry here.  Numerous medical staff are by my side, putting fluids and medications in me, and some taking blood samples out, others are checking my pulse and blood pressure.  The only time I’m fully conscious, is when the nausea hits.  This makes me vomit, which aggravates whatever is happening in my abdomen.  The little plastic kidney bean shaped bowl is going to be insufficient; I think.  I black out again.  I wake up later to a nurse checking on me, making sure I’m still among the living and replacing my kidney bean shaped party favor.

“Hang on to that, we don’t want to make a mess!” she says.  I can feel her distaste for the situation, it was clear this woman wanted to be anywhere but here, and she rushes out.  I can’t even answer her.   Here comes the nausea again…and another session with the bowl.  I weakly hold on to it, but once again black out.  I wake up to a very angry nurse, having to clean up the bowl I dropped on the floor when I lost consciousness.

“Now LOOK what you did!  Why didn’t you hold on to it? Jesus. Now I have to clean this up.” She sighed loudly and reminded me of my kids when I ask them to pick up their toys.

Roger, holding my hand, turns bright red, “I’m sorry that she blacked out and made a mess while she’s FUCKING DYING. GET. OUT.” She hurriedly grabbed her bag of trash and left.

A doctor heard the commotion and came through the curtain to check on us.  I had regained consciousness and looked at him and said, “I DON’T WANT THAT NURSE COMING NEAR ME EVER AGAIN.”  It was a lot of effort, and I was dropping off again.

The doctor nodded.  “Of course.  Now, while I’m here, I need to talk to both of you, but you especially, Tina, I need you to try to stay awake for just a few more minutes.” I nodded and took a breath.  “We’ve run all the tests and the prognosis is simple.  You are pregnant.  Unfortunately, the pregnancy isn’t viable, as it took hold in your fallopian tube, and now your tube has ruptured and you are bleeding internally, hemorrhaging.  We need to do emergency surgery immediately, but I need you to understand that without it, you will die.”  My eyes started to close, it felt like weights were attached to them and I couldn’t hold them open.  I simply told him, “Do whatever it takes.  Whatever.  Just do it.  Please.”  I lost consciousness.

The next time I woke up, I was in a recovery room, my husband holding my hand.  I had never been happier to open my eyes.  After a while, when I was more alert, the doctor came in to report that everything went well.  He had found the cause of the issue.  Despite my previous surgery to have my “tubes tied”, one of them grew back together, but only partially.  Not enough for the egg to reach my uterus, but just enough to become stuck and fertilized.

I lost just over half of my blood volume, somewhere in the range of 3 to 4 pints.  The recovery was long, it takes a long time to regenerate lost blood.  I was very weak and tired for the next several months.  I am so grateful to the EMT’s, the hospital staff, the nurses (except that one) and the doctors that saved my life that day.

A couple weeks after the incident, I received a “How did we do?” survey from the hospital.  I laced my fingers together and cracked my knuckles and started hammering a letter out.  I sang the praises of everyone and thanked them accordingly.  Then, and I may have gone a little “Karen” at this point, but I went into every detail my husband and I could remember about Nurse Ratched and how she treated me in the ER.  She was shortly thereafter removed from the Emergency Room and given a different station, and I received an apology from the hospital.  I heard through the grapevine, that I wasn’t the first person to complain about her.

For those people who are studying to get into healthcare: they are only called patients.  They are people.  They are scared. They need you to be empathetic and reassuring. Sure, you’ll have difficult, mean patients, but just remember that everyone reacts to fear differently. Especially when their life is in the hands of a stranger.


Biography: I am a 47 year old married mother of two.  I decided to go to Aims when my husband was diagnosed with cancer over three years ago.  I want to enjoy life, build a stable retirement and finally see my dream of graduating college come true.

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was a kid.  I loved reading and getting pulled into stories, worlds of magic, chaos, advanced technology, adventure, love and loss.  I always admired Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, Thomas Harris, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker and Anne Rice.  In addition to pursuing my degree in Computer Science, I wanted to revisit my long lost passion of storytelling. Taking creative writing reignited the flame.  I hope you enjoy my stories!