The Day my Heart Stopped Beating

I had almost made it through the day okay. I certainly didn't expect anything this wrong could happen but when I laid down for the night, it did. My heart stopped beating.

The moment my heart stopped beating time stood still. For me it wasn't like the stories you read where the person's heart stops and then they don't remember anything after that. I remember everything. 

I remember the air leaving my lungs. I remember the horrible quiet that followed and I remember thinking that I did not want to die. It truly makes you look at life in a different light. I guess that any near death experience changes how you view things. I know that this event forever changed how I will think and live out the remainder of my time.

It gives you a deep appreciation for your life and for the lives of others. I enjoy each morning simply knowing that I am still here to experience it. I love the wonderful aroma of my coffee as it brews and delight in the first sip when it is done. I love to see children laugh and couples smile at one another. Those little things mean so very much. Life is precious and every experience that we are given is so very special.

Please take time to pass a smile or a kind hand to another. Stop to smell the flowers. It is the little things that make life so very special. Appreciate your life and the life that others have been given. We are all simply attempting to live as content as we are able to.

I do not know if what happened to me was caused by stress, medication, or from the illness that I had been fighting for the previous two years. Perhaps it was a combination of all these factors. 

The day my heart stopped beating is now quite a few years in the past but the memory remains vividly within me. My rare chronic illness was not yet diagnosed and for two years I had been battling a strange inflammatory condition which had proven difficult to diagnose and to treat. I was being given a steady stream of anti-inflammatory medicines to try but none seemed to be making much difference to the disease and there were adverse side effects that came along with so many of these drugs.

The doctors had recently discovered that I had a rare antibody known as Jo1 but even with this knowledge there still was not too much difference in my health situation. JO1 antibodies are classed under rare diseases and back then there was not much understanding of the symptoms, treatment, or the illness course, so my treatment was sketchy to say the least.

I was experiencing severe fatigue, brain fog, muscle and joint stiffness, extreme pain, breathing and swallowing difficulties. The specialist I was sent to see kept telling me that these were not symptoms of the illness and that I should not be experiencing them. There was obviously more than a little stress occurring due the lack of knowledge of my illness.

The pain and fatigue that I was experiencing and the adjustment period of learning to live disabled were also factors at play. I was a single mom and the physical and emotional stress being applied to my body and mind was very high.

I had just gotten into bed a few minutes earlier and as is my habit I was lying there thinking about the day and the issues that were of concern to me. There are a lot of concerns that come along with a chronic disability. I was worried about my health, my ability to care for my daughter, my having to quit college, and my lack of money. I was feeling more than a little stressed.

Then with a slow whewwww the air expelled from my lungs like a deflating air mattress. This was followed by a deathly quiet. It was the air leaving my lungs that caught my attention but the silence that followed is what truly shocked me.

I was thinking of the feeling of the air leaving my body and I quickly analyzed that I was no longer able to breathe or to move. Everything around me was still and there was an absolute silence in my body. I rationalized out that the deathly quiet was because my heart had ceased beating. My body was dying and I knew it. It was a feeling of being paralyzed.

Even though I was aware that I was not breathing there was no urgent feeling in my body of needing to breathe. I knew I should be breathing but I felt no physical desperation to breath. The panic was within my thoughts because my body felt nothing. Everything was silent and still except for the multitude of thoughts racing through my mind.

I listened to the silence while my mind went through a desperate search for a means to escape my predicament, "I don't want to die. It is too quiet. Why is my heart not beating? Who will take care of Cori? I don't want to die." I don't want to die alone.

Time stands still in moments like this so I have no idea how much time passed. It was probably less than a minute but it seemed like a very long time to me. 

Everything was still except for my mind which was racing with a hundred different thoughts that all came to the same conclusion. I did not want to die. I did not want this to be how my life would end.

Then I could feel the inside of my chest push outward and it was as though my heart did a huge flip upwards as it heaved in my chest. I don't know if it made a sound but to me it was like a huge oooOOOMPH and then my heart started beating again. I could hear it loud and clear.

My brain was still racing trying to figure out what had just happened and I could feel my body shaking. By now reality or shock had set in and I was very upset. With the way that I was shaking I was worried that I might give myself a second attack so I started working to try to calm myself down.

It is amazing the thoughts that run through your mind when something like this happens. I was now very aware of how close I had just come to almost dying. Perhaps I had died and had somehow managed to come back?

With the many other health concerns happening to me that the doctors could not seem to understand I did not think that they would understand this one either. I never told my doctors what happened that night. I felt fine the next day so I left the issue alone.

I looked online for similar events as to what happened to me but only found one that might explain what occurred that night. Most of the heart attack stories I found were of people blacking out and not remembering anything so from what I could understand from the articles my situation may have been a cardiac arrest.

I have remarried, my children are grown up, and I am still here. Every now and then something will remind me and I will think back to that day. Sometimes it is a newscast on someone who has been murdered, sometimes it is a personal event of someone that I know who passes on, and I wonder if that person's last thoughts were like mine that day.

It makes me sad to know that even after your body dies that your brain stays alive to let you know that you are dying. Maybe though that is why I am still alive.

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