Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Crash Cart

I remember that they called for some sort of code. I remember wondering whether the code was for me. I also remember convulsing, and feeling a hand on my shaking leg and a voice saying, “It’s okay.” The next thing I remember was a near death experience, and then waking up to a dark room, puzzled.

According to Cindy, there was a crash cart. How did she know? Was bringing one standard when they called for a code? Did they use it?

From the few medical TV shows I’d watched, I equated the crash cart with a defibrillator, which involved paddles to jump-start the heart. Did they shock me? I couldn’t remember. Cindy asked whether I had burn marks on my skin—I didn’t. “Then they didn’t use it.”

I reacted with mixed feelings—relief and disappointment. I felt a twinge of excitement at the idea of doctors and nurses swarming around, someone calling out “Clear!” and applying the paddles. But the thought of having it apply to me was a different story. The relief overtook and overwhelmed the disappointment.

I wrote about the seizure that led to the code, the nurses and doctors swarming around me. I recalled convulsing and someone telling me it was okay as they patted my leg. The subsequent near death experience remained clear in my mind. Writing about the incident reminded me of a discussion about whether they should cut through my bra—I wanted to tell them to undo it, rather than cut it off—I couldn’t.

But all memory of my exchange with Cindy and the crash cart disappeared. Until a few nights ago. As I was falling asleep, thoughts about the crash cart surfaced. Had they used the defibrillator on me after all? The possibility scared me. But why? Was it that medical show I watched before I went to bed? Doctors and nurses swarmed, one of the doctors rubbed gel on the paddles, called out “Clear!” and applied the paddles to the patient’s chest. His body jumped.  They applied the paddles again and again. But to no avail. Immersed in the story, I experienced the same dejection exhibited by the medical-types surrounding the now-deceased patient.

Could that scene have triggered my thoughts? Whatever the trigger, I slept little that night and the following night. My mind went around and around in circles. Had they needed to use it? Was Cindy right? Did that mean that it wasn’t necessary? But what if they had?

Thoughts darting around in my brain. My heart raced. Beads of sweat welled up on my upper lip and forehead. Why was I afraid? Even if they had shocked my heart, I was still here, alive. There was no reason to be afraid.

Did my body jerk like that patient’s body, as I f I was a puppet, as if someone else was pulling the strings? Like those times when I simple partial seizures, when I was aware, but had no control over my body. The thought scared me. No, it terrified me, like it did all those years ago during those seizures.

During the daytime when I tried to figure it out, I felt no fear. All I experienced was curiosity. What was going on? Why was I obsessing over it?

I still have no answers. I don’t know why I had no trouble sleeping after that second night. As I voiced my questions to Judy, my writing coach, on the phone, I realized—I should write about it. Maybe that’ll give me answers.

I wrote–it didn’t provide answers. But I’m okay with that—I’ve had decent nights’ sleep since then.