I’ve preached in the past about disconnecting from technology to spend more time with your family, and it’s something that I truly believed I was doing. But the truth of the matter is—I wasn’t, and it took yet another health scare to prove it to me.
It was a Saturday. I had just spent a few days in amazing New York City at BlogHer 2012. After flying home I was STARVING. I stopped for lunch, went home to unpack, and at a certain point started to feel dizzy. I told myself I was just tired—until I blacked out, hit the wall and ended up in the emergency room with a gash on my eye.
Now, in typical Supermom fashion, my only reason for going to the hospital was because my BFF was getting married the following week and I knew I needed stitches. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t look like Frankenstein for her day. It really didn’t faze me that I had passed out.
When I finally got triaged, the nurse at the desk made me re-tell the story 3 times. “I must have been tired,” I said, “if not, I must have just been dehydrated. I just want to get stitched up, go home and read bedtime stories to my son.” I told her. She looked at me, told me her gut said I wasn’t going home tonight, and I better get comfortable.
Great. After being away from home for 4 days, I was now going to spend the night in the hospital to get a few stitches, be told that I’m fine and be sent home.
But that’s not what happened. That gut feeling the nurse had was right.
Blood tests showed that my levels of everything were normal. I wasn’t dehydrated either. They opened a bed for me in critical care and hooked me up to an ECG, and told me to wait for an hour and they would look at the results.
Now I was scared.
I sat there with open curtains hearing people in agony around me. I saw the resuscitation unit race past me in an attempt to save a woman's life. And when the mood shifted, I knew she didn’t make it and I started to question my own mortality.
After the hour was up the doctor came by to tell me they saw something on the results and they needed to run it again.
“Ok.” I whimpered.
In less than 12 hours I went from sitting on a plane excited to give my little guy a hug to questioning if I’d be there to give him one next year.
I’m not sure if it was the 4am departure for the airport, or the fact that my body is just plain broken that caused me to well up. I mean, I’ve had my fair share—scoliosis, asthma, busted ankles, colitis, life threatening allergies, cancer scares. I could have been the basis for an entire season of episodes of House.
The next hour of testing seemed like an eternity.
“Ok Miss Swanson,” The doctor came in. “Has anyone told you have a heart condition before?”
“Um, no, I’m pretty sure I’d remember that.”
“Well, you do, and we’re referring you to a cardiologist. You can get dressed and go home for tonight.”
A night in emergency, a test that shows I have a heart condition, and no other answers.
Although I didn't leave with answers about what was medically wrong with me, I did leave with bigger lessons learned. Time is precious. I love my family and friends more than I could ever put down on paper.
I have had dozens of health-based reality checks, but this one sticks. Seeing a woman die yards away from me sticks. Hearing her husband weeping, and reading that look in his eyes that said “I wish I had more time,” sticks.
In my case, we’re going through testing. Portable heart monitors, stress tests, ultrasounds, etc. The cardiologist says my condition “doesn’t seem to be critical at this time” because I’m “otherwise healthy” (oh the irony of that statement), but I was lucky we found it now, so they can monitor me as I age.
I get another day. And God willing, I get thousands more.
Although I don’t know anything about the other people in that critical care unit, I can guess that if they knew what was going on they wouldn’t be thinking “I wish I had spent more time on Facebook and less time cuddling with my son reading.”
So, to the cosmos, Ok I get it. Less time typing, more time cuddling. And that’s a promise.