I’m a storyteller, so let me tell you one. It all started with a bee…
Saturday afternoon I walked out the front door of our rental property we’ve been fixing up. As I walked down the stairs a bee stung me on the ankle. I was pissed (naturally) and as I stood there slapping at my ankle bitching out the bee, Mr. L walked out to see what the fuss was. Then another one stung me on the arm! I joked to him about giving him a call if I went into anaphylactic shock, and went down the block to pick up my 15 yr old at her friend’s house. Here’s what happened from there:
Within five minutes I was lightheaded, prickly in various places, disoriented, and my tongue and lips were getting numb. I went straight back to the house Mr. L was working on because I knew I shouldn’t be driving.
Within eight minutes my nasal passages had nearly swollen shut and I was sneezing and coughing.
Within ten minutes Mr. L had me at the Urgent care and I was so uncomfortable all over my body I could hardly hold still.
Within fifteen minutes I had passed out on the sidewalk in front of the Urgent Care. Luckily my daughter was next to me and caught me so I didn’t smash my head on the concrete sidewalk.
Within 20 minutes I was in the back of an ambulance, on oxygen, convulsing, with my blood pressure having dropped to 80 over 60something, vomiting, and going in and out of consciousness.
Over the next two and a half hours I was in the ER, being given various medications, through two IVs. When steroids finally took the swelling down (both internally and externally) I stabilized enough to be sent home with a prescription for several more days of steroids and an Epipen that I now have to carry with me everywhere for the rest of my life.
And yes, I’d been stung before, and no, I hadn’t had a reaction. So, here’s what I hope you’ll take away from this: Anaphylaxis is nothing to mess with. Seriously. It nearly killed me, and the doctors were very clear that a next time could.
I wish I could tell you that when I was unconscious I saw white lights and other heavenly things. I didn’t. I did have some sort of a dream, but I can’t remember it. What I do remember is that when the paramedics brought me around I didn’t want to come to. I remember fighting it and thinking, “Leave me alone. I’m happy here, I don’t want to leave.” Kind of scary, isn’t it? I remember thinking at some point that it would be really uncool to die on my family this way. Suddenly, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, no warning, no plans, or goodbyes. Just a bee sting. Honestly, I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about leaving them, except for what it meant for them. Because I had the easy part. It felt really good to just…leave. And so I did. A few times. Luckily, I came back. And naturally, I’m very glad I did. But at the time? Eh. Didn’t matter too much.
That feeling, that it’s easier to just stay where you are, then to fight your way out of something was new to me. But, it’s not uncommon in life. There are so many negative situations that we can find ourselves in that we just don’t seem to be strong enough to fight out of — relationships, jobs, families, mental illnesses. In my new release, Buried, the hero, Juan, is in one of those situations. Because of one misstep after another, he finds himself in a life of crime that he just can’t see a way out of. He’s not weak, but he’s tired, and sometimes it’s so hard to find the strength to wage that battle.
But, nothing will give us that extra push like loved ones, and when Juan is reunited with the girl he’s loved most of his life, he gets that shove he needs to break free. His heroine, Beth, is a spitfire, and unstoppable when she wants something. And she wants Juan, free of his gangster past, and all for her. She’s the most strong-willed heroine I’ve written, and Juan is one lucky guy to be the recipient of her efforts.
It releases officially on August 4th.
For more information about anaphylaxis, go here: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases