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Monthly Archives: August 2014





With a team of nurses and doctors hovering over me and one wide eyed nurse calling for the paddles, all I could think of saying was “Don’t let me die…”.  But that sounded too cliché, so I settled for silence and hoped that the shock that they were about to give me would bring down a dangerously fast heart rate that was shaking my upper body like an unbalanced out of control washing machine. As I waited for the tech to arrive with the paddles, I was trying to calm my mind, hoping that might help bring down my numbers, which I was later told was close to 260 BPM.

In those frantic moments of activity involving my mortality I was peeking between the white coats that surrounded me hoping to at least glimpse the face of a loved one but I knew, if they had been there, that they had probably been told to move to the hallway to give the team more room to work on me. So, resigned to the tight fitting sights and sounds of the medical staff, I laid there, in my neck brace, propped up on my right side, feeling reasonably calm for a man who felt very very close to death.

It’s amazing how life works. Since 1993 until 2011 my life was as smooth, happy, content and routine as anyone could ever hope for.  Since 2011 I have faced many difficult challenges; from a failed marriage, to work place issues, to health issues.  In fact from December 2013 to present I have had to endure four separate serious medical conditions, along with the death of my father, all of which challenged my faith and left me in a state that had me less than enthusiastic for living life.  But even with all of the adversity that surrounded me I have always held onto the determination to follow through and see my problems to the end, no matter what. 

So, back to the hospital room: The nurse who was still wide eyed and who was still staring at the monitor, which was over my head and in back of me, asked me how I was feeling. The look on her face registered to me her thinking: This man should not be conscious or even alive right now. I answered, “My chest is shaking…” She replied quickly blurting out, “Don’t say anything more!” Apparently my talking had shot my heart rate up even further. The man with the paddles arrived and the nurse was back in my ear telling me, “We’re going to shock you to bring your heart rate down but it might hurt some okay?”  I nodded, “Okay. Do it.” 50 volts were applied. I said, “Ouch.”  I was no longer shaking that much from my heart beat and soon my rate fell to manageable levels. A few weeks later I met the tech with the paddles again and he told me, “You are a very lucky man…”  

So, after having surgery on my cervical spine- to open it up to allow more room for my spinal cord, I also had to deal with a complication from that surgery that could have ended my life. I am now healing and thankful that I am here now blogging about it.

I will now say what I didn’t say while I was laying in that hospital bed: “Don’t let me die.” I have a lot more living to do…. The medical team that worked on me deserves credit for keeping me here to enjoy the ride and so does God but I am reminded that this life we live is just a journey and we never know when it will end. It also reminds me of the lyrics of a song:

“Que sera, sera.  Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera.”

I hope you are enjoying your path in life.  Don’t forget to smile and laugh along the way. It’ll make life easier.


Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: You can buy his memoir Pieces Of My Path (2009). Information on the site.