The 2012 Academy Awards were a bit of a milestone for me. I wasn’t up for any nominations, didn’t know or have anything to do with the nominees, and had seen only two of the nominated movies (one of those being Rango- yes, that’s how out of touch I am). I spent the afternoon casually watching red carpet coverage and then live Tweeting during the actual show from my family room sofa. I watched and Tweeted the 2011 awards too. But that year, I was alone, in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV with too many bags of blood, fluids, antibiotics and steroids to count, having nearly died several days before.
I used to suffer from chronic nosebleeds after having one random and horrific one in 2006. My treatment for that in the emergency room caused even more damage, and a subsequent surgery to fix that screwed things up even more (but ultimately saved my life yet again- but that’s another post). One day in February 2011 I got a nosebleed that took a while to stop while I was waiting for my son to get out of an appointment mid-morning. For some reason it just kept trickling. After hours of this, and of course with my husband (now ex) out for the evening, I became increasingly concerned. I asked him to bring me ice on his way home to put on my nose. By the time he got home, my nose had been bleeding for almost 12 hours. I believe I had strep or something else at the time too, so he went to sleep downstairs.
At some point in the middle of the night, when I’d gone through two full, new boxes of Kleenex, I called him up because I was so scared. Scared it wouldn’t stop, scared to go to the ER again where they might do more damage. He watched me for a while on a chair in the corner of our room, and apparently I feel asleep. Before I did I remember him telling me to call on his cell if I needed him. When I woke up, he was downstairs.
When I woke up I knew immediately something was very wrong. I tried to find my phone in the dark, but my face started gushing. I tried to find the landline to no avail. Blood was everywhere. I tried to get up to go to the bathroom, probably ten steps away, and fell down. When I stood up I saw a bright, white light, like a tunnel. There were no lights on in my room. I remember being too weak to yell to him to help me. I was not checked on.
In the morning, I guess I had fallen asleep or passed out, I was woken up by my then six-year-old son. I was surrounded by blood-soaked linens. I’m not sure what happened but I remember my husband coming into the room and sending my son out. I told him, calmly, that I needed him to call 911 and have an ambulance come because I needed a blood transfusion. He thought I was overreacting. He said he could take me. I told him I could not get out of bed. We went back and forth for a while. He called his mom to come stay with the boys and dialed 911. Right after I vomited a bowl full of blood.
I remember the paramedics walking in. They literally blanched. I’m sure when they heard some guy call because his wife has a nosebleed, on the west side of Los Angeles no less, they were expecting something as severe as a hangnail. But there I was, unable to move, surrounded by blood, covered in it and clutching a bowl of it too. They estimated it at a couple or more liters just in the bowl. They also said if they’d arrived much later, I would have bled out. As in died. In my home, with my kids.
I remember them getting me onto a stretcher to get me downstairs. Halfway down I remember my oldest son looking up at me. That’s all I remember until I got into the ambulance. When I came to, as they were closing the doors, I said “I can’t die. I have two young sons.” This became my mantra.
At the hospital I got priority. I was transfused (the first of four blood transfusions, maybe six), had my nose packed and clipped with some sort of medical clothespin. With all my new blood I felt so much better already that I remember making an obscene joke when the ER doctor told me the nose packing was going to go in quickly but not that far. Stabilized, and awaiting transfer to a bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my husband asked to go back to work as he had a deadline. And then there was one.
I think I was in the ICU just one night. I do remember that I had a fabulous visit from a therapy dog and was with it enough to take a picture to send my sons. I do very clearly though remember taking to Facebook to do something I had never ever done before: ask my friends and anyone they knew to pray for me so that I would not leave my boys without a mother. It was the only thing I could think of to do. When my six week premature youngest son was in the NICU for two weeks as a newborn, I remember nurses and friends telling me they’d submitted his name to their church prayer groups and finding great comfort in that, even though I didn’t myself attend church or even pray or believe.
I was in the hospital a full week. My boys were brought one time to see me, my husband came a few. My fabulous friends a whole bunch. Thank goodness my hospital stay coincided with Charlie Sheen’s meltdown to keep me distracted. Feeling better, I was still bedridden due to the bloodloss. I couldn’t do anything unassisted. I had to go under general anesthesia in the O.R. to remove the packing from my nose as they wanted everything to be incredibly controlled. Again, right before I went under, I announced to every doctor and nurse in the room: I just want to remind everyone…I cannot die. I have two young sons.