I was sprawled across the 2 small steps between my living room and dining room when Timmie came home. Semi-conscious perhaps. I could hear him shuffling, stomping around and calling someone on the phone yelling something. Droppie was here too, visiting from Australia. He is one of Timmie’s best buddy. He must think I’m nuts and hate me for ruining his holiday.
Timmie picked me up. My head hurt. Had I fallen? I don’t remember. I was trying to get a glass of water for myself from the kitchen to wash down the panadol I wanted to gulp down.
We got down to the lobby of the apartment compound. Timmie scolded Droppie that he should hurry up and go find a taxi for us, that it was an emergency. Sorry Droppie, I wish I could help or at least walk.
Limp, I plomped on the sofa downstairs while waiting for a taxi to reach us. Where are we going? I was in my pyjamas pants and had no shoes on.
Some bright light trailed in through the sliding doors. Oh it was the taxi. I tried to sit up. I thought I had sat up straight, but in fact I was a lump of bones piled on top of each other. Timmie had to prop me up on his chest, and half drag half carry me to the taxi.
Timmie threw me down on to the taxi seat and I stumbled across, barely catching myself. I willed my bum to stay on the seat as the driver sped along the dark, empty streets of Chao Yang Park West road. In the distance, I heard the chuckles of some lao wai (foreigner) heading home after their last drinks at Suzie Wong’s. Typical Beijing weekend.
I don’t know how long it took. To me, it felt like eternity. Timmie picked up my shambled body and carried me from the taxi to the sliding doors of International SOS Beijing. He screamed at the security guard for dozing off to sleep and not seeing us approach. A nurse heard us, and scrambled to find a wheelchair.
I flopped. I had not even a tint of residual energy left in my body or mind to lift a finger.
A few nurses scuttered across the room. Oh I was in ER. First time I had ever been to ER in my life, for all I can remember. They paged the doctor on duty.
Gently, they helped me onto the bed. In my daze, I surveyed my sanctuary, decorated with white lights and curtains, and white bed sheets in between the machines that beeped. I even had my own bathroom in this petit ward. Everything was pristine, immaculately clean, and white. There was an eerie peace to it. I thought I was in heaven and was about to meet God and defend my myself as to why I had chosen to die.
I laid stoic. They put a few blankets over me but I could not stop shivering from cold. Perhaps I was trembling not from the heated temperature in the room but from fear. Fear of what, I could not say.
One of the nurses, and I came to know later was the Head Nurse Dee Dee, stuck a little white instrument softly into my ear. Click. No temperature.
Then they rolled up my pyjamas sleeves and wrapped my bony biceps with a black elastic tape, and stuck a little black ball underneath. They shifted my index finger so it fit into a mouse-trap like device, and kept it there for a few seconds. Beep beep beeeeeeep!
“Pressure 35/60”, Dee Dee noted quietly, but diligently.
Some tall man came into the room. My eyes squinted at the bright ceiling lights so he ordered them turned off. He was the doctor I believe.
I heard Timmie mumble something about coming home and finding me on the floor and not sure what happened, and that there was glass everywhere in the kitchen.
Doctor peered into my eyes, “What’s your name?”
“No… No.. Noch-ie,” I stammered.
“Do you know what day it is?”
“Umm… Saturday…. Or 22nd… or Friday?” I managed with gasping breaths.
Doctor felt my head lightly, and at the back of my neck. “Did it hurt?”
“A little… I dunno… I feel so so, um… diiiiiii –zzy,” I continued.
Doctor decided I had not bang my head too harshly and there was no lump. They ordered an X-ray to see if I had a concussion. I don’t even remember passing through the machine.
Sudden wave of nausea overthrew me and Dee Dee asked another nurse to get me a basin with a plastic bag wrapped around it. I tried to throw up. Water. Spit. Some sort of translucent fluid. I tried to vomit my guts out because they were bothering me. The reminiscence of the tub of pills I tried to swallow burned my stomach lining. I tried to spew. But I couldn’t. And it felt worse.
Timmie went out with the Doctor and I could hear muffled voices behind the curtains. I was too tired to eavesdrop, my fate was at their mercy. They decided flushing my stomach was not necessary as I was still conscious, but I had to stay the night for observation. I was quite dehydrated it seemed, and obviously drowsy from an overdose of sleeping pills. Dee Dee came back in with a tray of assorted needles and tape, and a few packages of glucose solution.
She tied a thick rubbery band around my arm, and asked me to hold my hand tightly into a fist. My attempt was in vain. Timmie had to hold my hand into a fist. Dee Dee tapped around my hand, found a relatively chubby blood vessel, pounding green from under the skin. Poke.
Needle was in, and she taped it down. Then, she connected the needle with a tube that extended from the package of glucose, and hung the package on a stand.
Dullop, dullop, dullop, went the IV drip.
My eyes flitted open temporarily, and slowly the heavy eyelids clamped down.
Strangely, my life flashed before my eyes as I closed them. What had become of me? Was God punishing me for something I had done, or not done? Maybe I’m a bad person, that’s why this is happening to me. But I thought I was a strong girl, I can will myself to get better! Every time I laid there half paralysed and ached with throbbing pain, I wonder what is this path of destruction I had gone on. Muddled with medicine, injections, and pills, the bitter irony was that I saw very clearly how I brought this on to myself.
So I stirred and struggled to get up. My body did not move an inch. It did not listen to my mind anymore.
My body needed rest to repair itself. It had sprinted for too long without taking a break, heeding to every unreasonable command my mind gave it – finish this excel spreadsheet first even though it’s midnight, fit another client meeting in, take the CFA and the GMAT and the LLM exams all in one year, make more friends, my life had to be perfect…
Finally, my body revolted. It has had enough.
I don’t know when I woke up but when I opened my eyes, the whole clinic was buzzing and people hustled. Timmie was still there, half asleep on the chair next to my bed. Another doctor came in to have one last look at me and decided I could be discharged. I got up feebly to put on my shoes and then remembered I wasn’t wearing any. The nurse gave me a pair of paper slippers.
The bill was almost half a month’s salary. Thank goodness for medical insurance. I love my company.
With Timmie’s arm supporting me, my weary soul persevered on and I got into a taxi to go home. Home, where I hid under the blankets for the next few days to contemplate the incident. I was slightly angry I had not succeeded. But I was too exhausted to devise the next attempt. Some macaroni in soup was all I wanted.
This was the first of many IV drips I had subsequently over the last 2 – 3 years, so much so I knew all the nurses in ER by their first names.
I had wished I had a pen with me whilst lying on the hospital bed to jot down all those thoughts – I didn’t want to waste time and squander life away by lying in a hospital bed. Perhaps I can be productive somehow while my arm was hooked to tubes.
Always wanting to achieve something, worried being idle meant I would be left behind.
How many times did I nearly die? I don’t think it was that many times I tried to implement my desire for death. But it was in my mind enough, like a bacteria that multiplied exponentially. People wonder what the h@ll was wrong with me and almost surprised I’m still here, breathing.
I’m not too surprised. I’m pretty resilient. I had to graze the doorsteps of death to start thinking about the purpose of every breath I took thereafter. And what doesn’t kill me (literally), makes me stronger, so they say.
I conceived the idea of this blog on one of those sejours on the white ER bed. Today I’m just that little bit stronger because I can talk about it, and help myself get better. That’s enough.
Please help me grow as a writer; I’d love to hear in the comments what you liked / disliked about this post, and what emotions you felt as you read it. Your feedback and critique would be most appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Noch Noch,
It must have been hard to write about your experiences with death. I have often thought that the point between life and death brings clarity. All at once we know what is truly important and what is not. Admittedly, while I did think of death at various points in my life, it never got to the point where I really made an attempt to carry it out. There have been close moments of deep despair, but it was never bad enough to take the final plunge.
That said, I do like to read about wars and battles partly because of the struggle against great odds and partly for the clarity that reading about death brings.
We all have some purpose to fulfill here on this Earth. That we are still alive shows there is still something we must do. But what this thing we must do is not always clear or certain. It is something we have to find or to create for ourselves.
A life without purpose is a bleak one. Yet a life with purpose is not a sprint but a marathon as your experiences show. The key to winning a marathon is balance. We must not exert all our energy at one go. Rather we should spread it out over the long run. Otherwise, we will never be able to fulfill our purpose if we burn the candle at both ends.
Thank you for sharing this thought provoking article! I hope that your reflections will make you purpose clear to you so that you can shine for others to follow towards the worthy cause you were meant to fulfil.
Irving the Vizier
That’s very well said, the life with a purpose is a marathon and we must persevere. It is about balance. Some times we might run faster, sometimes a jog, and sometimes, just sit by the wayside for a rest.
I’m still looking for my purpose. Maybe a little bit further down the road I’ll find it 🙂
Wow. I so admire your courage to share this story with the world. Thank you for your honesty!
Sending you much love all the way from Chile.
Thanks for the love from Chile! A hug back to you from Beijing. Thanks for reading my little blurbs. Appreciate the support
I think when people think of depression they dont understand what actually happens and how easily you can fall into without knowing, how much pressure you always put on yourself and how much you ignore your own body even when it is giving you clear warning signs. What you have been through is un imaginable and its amazing that your writing about your experience so openly to make others aware.
You are one of a kind and this world would be a very dull place without you and your constant creative writing and determination to tell your story in order to help others. Dont forget that. ‘ When life seems all but over and the tranquility of the clouds awaits you, just remember to think it’s not ready for me yet, I have still have a purpose here and my journey isn’t complete’ 🙂
lots of love always
Thanks for the encouragement. Glad you like my writing haha 🙂
Come back soon
We miss your smiles, and even you “sorrys”!!
Wow, you are an amazing women! And I admire your courage my friend. And you are one of the better writers out there! No questions asked!
Much love, Chris
Thanks! Grateful for the support. I’m trying to be a better writer. It’s what makes me a bit more energized
Amazing experience! It’s interesting how you mentioned that you wanted a perfect life, if only… But wait, it’s already perfect, even with all of the imperfections!
Sometimes, I drive myself nuts trying to finish this and tidy up that. Thinking that right as I’m done, life will become the best… Oh well, it hasn’t happened yet! So slow down, stop and look around to find life already there, just waiting to be lived! 🙂
Take care! Vlad
I just had a session this morning with my shrink, and he mentioned the same thing – it’s already “perfect”! I need to celebrate my life and success and stop looking at things to “improve.”
Indeed, we spent so much time trying to make things better we forget to enjoy what we have already done!
Thanks for yet another insight, I love having your input on my blog!
was just wondering where you are since I did not see you in gmail since past few days. You spoke to me well during the chinese new year preparations.
You are to get married in May. When is the D day?
How are you now? do reply and take care.
Thanks for checking on me. I’m around. But I don’t use gchat so sorry if I don’t respond. Mid May is my wedding 😀 haha you have good memory!
I’m not bad, just up and down and up and down as usual. Hanging on in there – hope you are too!
My God Noch you had me reading with eager anticipation the whole time. You are a strong writer and I was emotionally pulled through this post. Now I need a nap. 🙂
Seriously though, you writing is brave and courageous and an inspiration to me. Thank you once again for sharing your life experiences with us. 🙂
THANKS!!! I’m finding my voice through my writing and learning how to write, so means a lot to me that you tell me your emotions were stirred while reading through my description of some dark days. It took out a lot from me writing this too, brought me back to re-live it. Some think it’s not very wise, but I think it helps me make sense of my last 2 years in a different light and to grow from it.
Thanks for reading about me, and giving me encouragement to carry on writing 😀
Well, I’m glad you’re still around to tell us about it. 😉
Noch, if only you knew how important you are by simply being then you wouldn’t feel the need to prove anything to nobody…. I hope that life will continue to guide you to the knowledge of your true nature which is perfect and indestructible.
Hahah yes – so am I :p
I like that, I will start to think about that, that I’m important “simply being” me. I am rehatching some habits, just to celebrate myself for myself.
This is such a moving read Noch Noch. I was literally willing for time to slow down so that you could get to the hospital in time. I like how you captured your friends emotions and care for you. The fact that you felt like a lump of bones piled on top of each other. Just emphasizes how weak you must have felt.
Wow, am just glad you are strong and courageous enough to accept what happened to you. And are facing your fears head on. Wish you the very best in this journey called life. I would say you write in a provoking honest way with a hint of suspense. Very nice…
I’m glad you enjoyed the writing style. I was also experimenting with my creativity. I shudder though each time I re-read it, because I can still see it so vividly. It was surreal but so real. I don’t know if that makes sense. Sorry though if I caused anyone to worry unnecessarily. It was a lesson to be learnt, that I needed to slow down.
You have got me emotionally hooked from the start of this post. You should definitely write a book, if you haven’t thought of it already.
Thanks for that encouragement! I’m so grateful for that. I’m working on expanding my writing skills and yes book is on the agenda… lots to learn and practice, but one day I know I can do it!!! 🙂
I will send you a copy once that happens
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