Shelter From A Storm: How The Revolution Almost Killed Me
I was drowning. I woke up coughing. Breath was impossible. Cough, Cough, attempt to breathe and then the first coughing spasm hit me like a fist. It felt like someone had a hand around my throat. What’s happening?
Cough, cough, reach for my emergency inhaler and fall out of bed onto my knees as the second coughing spasm hit harder than the first. I groped for the emergency inhaler never far from my side. Couldn’t find it. First wave of panic.
I started to crawl the ten steps to my bathroom. After the next spasm I stood. Cough, Cough, got to the bathroom where I knew there was a new emergency inhaler in a box. The next spasm knocked me down to the floor of the bathroom.
I sat for a minute after the spasm passed curled in a ball on the floor of my new tiny bathroom (sold my house two months ago and good thing since not sure I would have reached the bathroom in my house).
Stood up and opened the box. Opening the paper box and the protective wrapping was like lifting a hundred pounds. I drank the inhaler taking 4 big gulps timing my inhalations.
Nothing happened, but another coughing SPASM bent me over. Second bigger wave of panic.
I stumbled back to bed in time for the next spasm. I didn’t want to die curled in a ball on the bathroom floor (that I realized I haven't cleaned in too long looking at the collected dust on the floor). Cough, Cough, SPASM. Thinking FAST now I ran through options:
* Call for an ambulance.
* Drive to Duke’s emergency room about two miles away.
Cough, Cough, SPASM.
I looked at the clock. 12:30. I rejected calling an ambulance. I’m pretty BROKE after selling my house and paying to develop CureCancerStore.org and CureCancerStarter.org so loading another $1,000 on an already over used credit card didn’t work for me. The irony of being willing to die over an ambulance ride hasn’t escaped me today. My thinking last night when oxygen to my brain was scarce wasn't brilliant or steady.
Cough, Cough, SPASM.
I knew the sequence now and hit my inhaler more times (I stopped counting at 12). Still nothing. Timing the sequence I could THINK a little between the first and second cough. I thought about what I could do:
* Hit my Advair (wouldn’t help now but would later).
* Take an antihistamine (wouldn’t help now but would later).
* Get in the shower.
The shower was an old friend. When I was growing up. My mom and I sat in the shower many long nights letting our clothes get soaking wet as I gulped air like a sick bird. My mom rubbed my back, rocked me gently and told me everything was going to be fine.
When you are child you believe your mom. Her presence and assurance calms you down. My mother lives in Kentucky now and she is 81 so I had to get myself to the shower. I timed the coughs so I wouldn’t get knocked down and turned the shower on hotter than I’ve ever done before in this new apartment.
I closed the door. This bathroom is a quarter the size of my house’s bathroom (that is true for everything I went from 2500 square feet to under 1,000). The irony of having a smaller bathroom with a hotter shower and how that might now save my life didn’t occur to me then (it does now and makes me smile).
I stepped back from the now VERY HOT water. Steam filled the tiny room fast. Cough, Cough, SPASM. I realized I had no idea of the TIME in the shower. My line in the sand might be NOW. I didn’t know, but I didn’t panic further either. What could be done had been done and now whatever was going to happen was out of my control (a lesson learned from having #cancer
Slowly the severity of the spasm softened ever so slightly. I wasn’t out of the woods, but probably wasn’t going to die in the shower either. I did’t know how long I was there. When HOT ran to medium and then cold I had enough strength to grab a towel and get back on the bed.
The clock said 1:15.
The MINUTE life itself is more confident GUILT starts to set in. I’d used gallows humor in the shower. I thought of how ironic it would be to die from an asthma attack after all the experiences from the last ten years.
I got cancer, rode a bicycle across America and rocketed down mountains at more than 60MPH (on a bicycle). Dying in the shower from an asthma attack seemed pitiful and small.
Sitting on the bed guilt crept in like a sure dense fog. I felt guilty over not properly thanking my amazing friends who helped create a Google Hangout for the launching of the two missing pieces to my almost complete triptych:
• Martin’s Ride To Cure Cancer (bicycle ride across America summer 2010).
(launched last Monday 10.7).
• Cure Cancer Starter http://www.curecancerstarter.org
(launching Monday 10.14 if the creeks don’t rise).
My plan was to wake up and write a THANK YOU NOTE to +Nikol Murphy
and her +Talking Moose Media
team including +Jesse Wojdylo
who had us trending for #curecancer
yesterday. Thank our amazing MC +Lee Anne McClymont
and our great roster of speakers including Jon Jordan, CEO +Atlantic BT
and Mark Foulkrod my boss and friend.
How could I croak without thanking Dr. Hank Van Deventer from +UNC Lineberger
who saved my life from cancer only to croak from an asthma attack in my shower (life is strange sometimes). Dr. Van Deventer wasn't the only STAR who visited our +Google+
Hangout ON AIR yesterday. My friend and fellow #cancerpreneur +Chase Jones
freely shared his viral marketing secrets. +Roswell Park
shared their Deputy Director Dr. Candace Johnson and we dropped our feed. Nikol was amazing as she stayed cool under pressure and re-started the feed and connected Dr. Johnson. +WRAL TV
's Tar Heel Traveler shared his visual #storytelling
tips and my friend and BIG donor to everything I've ever done +Eric Garrison
CEO of +WTE Solutions
shared great #ecom
tips and his Agile7 system we used for http://www.curecancerstore.org
I hope everyone on that list and many more FOMs (Friends of Martins) know how much they mean to me. My brother Drew joined us yesterday too. Drew is running our CureCacnerStore.org and he helped develop our Cure Cancer Varsity Jackets. Our jackets arrived yesterday and they are SPECIAL (more about them soon).
It was an amazing day and the perfect end to an incredible week, a week a year in the making. So my inability to write that thank you note was a piece of my guilt last night. As life seemed more likely than not I started hammering myself for taking things like my health for granted.
The arrogance of throwing everything against Martin’s Triptych just kicked me in the ass and rightfully so. Here is another irony I figured out. The attack was caused by getting a flu shot on Thursday.
I've been sick for four weeks. Finally feeling better last week I queued up for a flu shot on Thursday. I was HOT and sweaty all during our Hangout. Taking my temperature when I got home I was running a fever. This level of reaction to a flu shot I've had before and fevers are nothing to play around with when you have leukemia, but I took some tylenol and went to bed at nine only to have an invisible stranger try to strangle me around midnight.
Each time life gets even the smallest bit out of balance an invisible hand reaches down and reminds what is important. Last night just being able to take a breath without a cough, cough, spasm was all I wanted (lol).
Today I’m still a little shell shocked, but there is so much medicine in me now a repeat is unlikely. I did just cough but coughing doesn’t have the furious intensity today, a lion now tamed.
To everyone who helped me and us get HERE thank you for one of the most rewarding weeks of my life and I promise to take better care (having now been sufficiently scared to get LIFE back in balance).
To the FOMs (new and old) who have done SO MUCH, GIVEN SO MUCH I say you were in my thoughts not long after life returned, and you are in my thoughts now.
Thank you for my life.