A year ago today I almost left this life. Literally. My organs were shutting down, I didn’t have enough blood in my body to sustain life. After numerous communications from my brother and multiple medical professionals, my mother in Oakland, California received a call at 3:00 a.m. from an ER doctor telling her that she needed to get to Los Angeles immediately, but he could not say that I would still be alive by the time she arrived.
Plot twist. This was during the time when all of the Boeing 737 airplanes were grounded due to electrical errors so there were absolutely no flights to be booked unless tickets had already been in the system on a flight that was delayed or canceled.
Let’s rewind… The afternoon of March 13, 2019, I had met a friend for lunch. While we were in line at a popular restaurant to order, I started feeling lightheaded. I told my friend I needed to sit down and headed to an open table. Before I knew it, I was hitting the ground, my head having banged quite soundly on the hard tile ground while I was in full collapse.
Immediately, a crowd of people were around me asking if I was okay and coming to my aid, the most concerned of which was my dear friend. I was helped to a table, with many kind faces doing their best to assist me. 9-1-1 was called as a stranger with a phone to his ear earnestly asked me what day it was and who was the president of the United States. “Don’t remind me,” I believe I murmured.
To be honest, in that moment, what I was feeling most was embarrassment. The group of wonderful strangers who were actively trying to assess and help my situation wanted to call an ambulance. I refused. I just wanted the attention off of me and my (to my thinking at that moment) fluke of a mishap. I feigned that I was okay, when I really was not.
It’s moments like these that you realize that there are more good, kind, honest, genuine and loving people in this world than not.
The Head of Security (HOS) had been called and I repeated that I was fine. By that time, the restaurant manager, who was deeply involved and attentive, had offered me and my friend free lunch. Most of the busyness around me had settled and I was doing a good job of faking that I was okay and out of crisis. Spoiler alert…I was not.
The HOS wrote down his number and insisted that I call him when I was ready to leave so he could escort me to my car. I promised I would mainly to get him to leave.
I conned my way through “lunch” (which consisted of me pushing food around my plate) with a throbbing head from the hard bang during my fall. Had I been a cartoon character the stars would have been circling above my head.
Although my friend wanted to stay with me to make sure I got to my car, I insisted she go back to work, knowing it was her last week at her job at CAA. She was moving on to bigger and better things! I swore I would call the HOS to help me and she reluctantly gave in and left.
I did call the HOS. He came back to get me and walk me to my car. He gathered my things for me and all I literally had to do was walk. However, as we were going out the door with me just two steps behind him I felt myself falling again and seconds later I was on the concrete ground face down blood streaming from my busted lip.
This was the moment that I really got scared. I did not know what was going on with me. Why couldn’t I even walk a few feet?! I was fine when I got there! What. Was. Going. On??!!! I felt like a failure at the very basics of life.
Through a series of events that included:
1) The HOS somehow getting me to my car where I refused an ambulance again and said I’d rest in my car until I felt strong enough to drive;
2) Calling my mom panicked and still being stubborn and hard-headed until she basically said, “Girl, get the ambulance!!!” (I must note here that those of you who knew my dad know that particular term was in addition to being a beloved nickname of endearment, also — with a shift of tone — what he would call me when he was exasperated with me, though those times were rare);
3) Calling back the HOS to tell him that I WOULD like the ambulance as I was increasingly getting weaker and weaker. I simultaneously was receiving a voicemail from my manager about an audition for the next day;
4) Begging my mom to call my manager to let her know I had received the message about the audition, but at the same time let her know what was going on because…what’s an actress to do?
5) Two ambulances, including a horrific initial ambulance experience with the LAFD paramedics team, and two hospitals because my primary hospital didn’t have any beds available initially and I had to be taken somewhere else first to be triaged and have my immediate crisis managed;
6) In the wee hours of the next morning, finally being transported by another ambulance to my primary hospital…
…There I was in the second Emergency Room literally hovering between life and death.
Because of the grounded airplanes my oldest brother had to drive my mom down to get to me, but she was on speed dial with my brother down here and the ER team throughout the night sharing crucial information and frantically receiving updates as she was trying her best to get to my side.
When I woke up later that morning much of what had happened the night before was a blur after I was put in the first ambulance. However, I do remember waking up in the first hospital and my older brother being there advocating for me and my needs nonstop like a confident, no-nonsense boss in those uncertain moments.
But in my mind I was feeling fine. So, OF COURSE, the first thing I did was find my phone and email my manager to tell her I woke up much better and was sure I would be released in time to make my “STATION 19” audition.
Cue the next phone call from my mom where she informs me, “GIRL, you are in the ICU!!! You aren’t making any audition today!” (Again, copy the note above regarding my dad’s usage of the term.) I reluctantly emailed my manager back to say, “On second thought…”
Also, during that phone call my mom would tell me how fervently everyone had been praying for me. She told me that she, in addition to praying incessantly, had been in conversation with my dad on the other side. That, in fact, she was fussing and telling him, “Don’t you take our daughter! We will all be together again one day, but don’t you take our daughter now!!”
She then chuckled and said to me that she guessed my dad was up in Heaven saying, “This woman just won’t leave me alone!” That made me laugh so hard and for so long that it was the moment that she really knew I was going to be okay.
A year later this all still feels a bit unreal and surreal to me. But it is events such as this one that remind you of the blessings you have and the people who REALLY love you and have your back…as well as those who say they do, but don’t.
I’m so grateful for the people in my life who got me through this terrifying and unsettling time.
In this ordeal, which turned out to be Septic Shock, I did not have a death experience, at least that I recall. I wish I had. I would have loved to have seen my departed dad and precious family and friends again. But I am glad that I get to continue this life experience and am thankful for those special people who make it such an incredible journey.
From now on I will view March 14 as my Re-Birth Day. It also happens to be my Godson’s birthday who is one of my biggest blessings. Most importantly, this is a day to be thankful and celebrate life because we never know when it may suddenly slip away.