Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A day (or night) in the life, or My own worst enemy

            “Provo girl found dead in hallway after accidental drowning”

What could prompt a headline like that, you might ask? Well, let me tell you about my night a few weeks ago. My poor roommates have already heard this story 4 or 5 times, but it’s a pretty good one.

So after a late night of homework I fell gratefully into bed around 12:30 and slept soundly. My slumber was disturbed, however, and I awoke at 1:30. I realized I felt pretty unwell. I dragged myself out of bed and out to the hall bathroom (which is approximately 5 or 6 steps from my bedroom door) so I can do an illness assessment in the light without disturbing my roommate. In reality, it went something like this:

Me (after opening my eyes a crack): “ugh…bathroom…” *thump* *stagger*. Because I am in reality only half awake. At this point you should know that this clever narrator of yours turns into an illogical whack job when only half conscious. Let’s keep going.

I get to the bathroom and decide that I should take some medicine and get back into bed ASAP. To me at this point getting back into bed is a life or death situation because a)I don’t feel good and b) every functioning intellectual pathway in my brain is saying “I must go back to sleep. Right. Now.” Easy enough, right? No. My biggest struggle still lay ahead of me.
The medicine I needed was sitting on my dresser, in a nice impossible-to-open, individually wrapped plastic square. And I was still in the bathroom. But if I went in my room, I needed to get back into bed. But before I could, I needed that pill. But to take the pill, I needed water. Which was in the bathroom. Which is where I was, but I didn’t have anything to put the water in to get it to the bedroom. I was stuck. I kid you not, this was my thought process. I sat for a moment, pondering the injustice of it all in the face of my deep desire to get back into bed. 

I never once considered walking the 20 feet to the kitchen sink which would have as many glasses as I could ask for, just waiting to be filled with cool, portable water. I also never considered walking into my room, grabbing the medicine, and walking back to the bathroom. While this was a feat that could have been accomplished in under 30 seconds, it was unfathomable. Because any and all forward motion on my part must be focused on getting me back into bed. I had no other option. Despair began to settle in.
But then, a miracle! An additional little neuron in my brain rousted itself from sleep and whispered to me, “You, Emily, you can transport the water! In your mouth.” How could I have been so blind? The answer had lain right in front of me the the entire time! It was simple, really. All I had to do was to fill my cupped hands with water, slurp it into my mouth, and then make my way to the bedroom, pop the pill in with the water, swallow, and then climb victorious into my bed where I would find rest and good health restored to me. I nearly cried at the beauty and simplicity of it! Well, I got very excited, at least. 

My cheer restored, I happily filled my hands and then mouth with water, flipped off the light, and worked my way down the incredibly short hallway to my bedroom. But then a funny thing happened. I…couldn’t breathe. Oh no! In my half-dazed joy I had forgotten that for the last ten years I have been unable to breathe very well through my nose (my doctor suspects a deviated septum) and tonight it was especially difficult. I could feel the panic begin to rise. I couldn’t breathe through my mouth, because it was full of water. I couldn’t breathe through my nose, because I just couldn’t. I was going to die…

Wait! There must be a solution! I wouldn’t go out that easily. I was a fighter. And there was a solution. “Swallow the water,” you might say. “Turn around and go back into the bathroom and spit it out,” you suggest. “Remember the kitchen with the cups?” you ask. I didn’t remember. In fact, none of these basic options ever struck me as viable, because I couldn’t turn around at any cost. Even if that cost was my life. What was my plan, then? Move faster. Get in and beat this thing before it beat me. I forced my paralyzed-with-fear self onward toward the goal. As I moved, I choked. I spluttered. I snorted, trying to open up an air way in my stubborn nose. The impossible breaths came faster as the panic rose and the need for oxygen pressed down on me. 

I made it into my room. My roommate’s prostrate form lay before me in the dark. Good, she’s still asleep. I didn’t want to wake her up, but I was still coughing and choking around the water in my mouth and forcing tiny amounts of air through my blocked nasal passages. I stumble over to my dresser. Success! I found the pill. The pill that will make me feel better and justify everything I had been through that night. I was moments from my goal of being back asleep in bed, the whole ordeal behind me. But now I must wrestle said pill from its absurd packaging. WHO thought this plastic/foil contraption was a good idea?? At this point my hands are shaking, my lungs are screaming, and hope is fleeting. I find that I am not, after all, ready to give it all up. You know. Life.

And then, another miracle. The pill came free. I hurriedly popped it into my mouth and did something I should have done so many times before: I swallowed. Air flooded my lungs. My head cleared. Happiness returned. I crawled back into bed and was instantly asleep. 

The next day I was casually talking with another roommate about how her night had gone. She had hung out with a boy until 3:30 that morning! At the mention of that, my night of shame washed over me in a horrific tidal wave. Had they come back here to the apartment at all? Were they in the living room at the time of my great struggle?? Had they heard me in effect drowning myself in the hallway? But they had not been there. There were no witnesses. My dignity, such as it was, was in tact. Such as it was...

And that, friends, is how I nearly died from drowning in the hall.           


  1. Emily!!! I'm pretty sure that is the best thing that I have ever heard! I love your stories! I miss you my friend :)

  2. Haaaaa, haaaaa, heee hee he he he haaaaaa, haaaaaaa... (breathing) heeee heee he haha haaaaa!!! I just have to say the live telling is even better!