Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Day I Almost . . . Bought the Farm

It was 1995 at a writer’s conference in Houston. I’ll never forget it. It was the day I almost . . . bought the farm, did my last jig, almost two-stepped right into the light. Yup, I almost died. And the crazy thing was that I let it happen because of a personality flaw.

Not intentionally, of course. You see, I’m a retreater.

Sure, I love being in the limelight. Love giving workshops. But when I’m angry, upset, or sick, I do just the opposite. I retreat. Yup, my hubby never worries about getting yelled at, it’s when I get quiet that he starts sleeping with one eye open. That or he starts taking my temperature to see if I’m sick. Because if I am, he’ll never hear about it from me. Heck, I’ve had surgery, other surgeries, scheduled before he knew anything was wrong. I mean, why cause a scene?

I come by this honestly. Not that I come from a long line of retreaters. Oh, no, it’s just the opposite. My flaw stems from my need to compensate for the failings of my foremothers. No doubt about it, I come from a long line of drama queens. If my aunt clipped her toenail too close, the entire neighborhood, including the plumber, and her gynecologist would know about it. They’d know about it in detail, too. Every painful pinky toe detail. If she suffered from constipation, she’d get all gussied up and make a show of going to the grocery store to purchase a laxative. She’d talk about her problems to anyone who would listen, the checker, the bagger, and even the guy buying a case of beer. My point…everyone will know about it.

The same thing happened when she was angry. I seriously think the adage, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” came into being because of an ancestor of mine.

Hence, I’m a retreater.

So that Friday night during a dinner with an editor, when I started experiencing a little pain, (just a little gastritis I’m sure) I basically ignored the twinges. First thing Saturday morning, as I gave my workshop, the twinges had become a bit more uncomfortable. I blamed it on the broccoli. I mean, we all know what that veggie can do.

Workshop completed, I decided to go up to my room and die. At the time, I seriously didn’t know dying was a real option.

Around noon, my side was really hurting. Yes, I’m still convinced it was gas—in my defense, my fever had pretty much fried all my brain cells. Anyway, I remove all my clothes and climbed into bed. That’s when I realized that not all my brain cells have been cremated. Because it hit me that if I died, someone would find me butt naked in bed. So I got back up and put on my clothes.

Before I crawled under the covers, I went against my better judgment and called my husband, who is only an hour’s drive from the hotel room. He doesn’t answer, so I leave a message.

“Hey, babe. It’s me. Give a call if you get a chance.”

An hour later, I redialed. “Hey babe. I . . . uh, call me please.” (Translation: I think I’m dying.)

An hour later. “Babe, I don’t feel very well, (Translation: I know I’m dying) call me.”

An hour later, fever around 104. “Babe, I might be sick. (Translation: It’s been nice knowing you.) Love you.”

Again, remember that my brain cells were fried from the fever. Still as hard I tried I couldn’t imagine calling down to the front desk and asking for an ambulance to go. And I really couldn’t imagine being wheeled down the elevator, through the lobby on a stretcher. I mean, this is something my aunt would have done. Dying was a much better option.

But deep down I knew I had to do something. I mean, I had books I wanted to sell. So I reached for the phone . . . but before I picked up, it rang.

“What’s wrong?” Hubby asked in a panic.

“It’s probably a gas bubble.”

He didn’t buy the gas bubble story and arrived in record time. And when he looked down at me on the floor because I had crawled to open the door, he really panicked.

Shortly later, in the ER, when a surgeon told us he’d have to remove my appendix, I argued that I’d eaten broccoli. My husband interrupted and said he’d seen a show on laparoscopic surgery to remove an appendix and it was a piece of cake. Hey, the man was trying to make me feel better.

The doctor shrugged. “It’ll take me an hour to set up that surgery, your wife will be dead in an hour.” Obviously the doctor didn’t worry about making me feel better.

Hubby sighs. “I guess you’re just gonna slice her open then.”

I argued they should give me some Beano and send me home. I argued all the way in the operating room. I argued with the prep nurse. I tried to get up and leave the room. Hey, at that point I was running almost a 105 fever and had some hardcore pain meds running through my veins. The last thing I remember was arguing with the anesthesiologist.

The doctor came in a few days later and asked, “Why in the hell didn’t you get help before you did?”

I told him the truth. “Because my aunt clipped her pinky toenail too close.”

Hey, I was still on the hardcore pain meds.

So there you have it, my near demise. Any of you ever brushed up against the pearly gates? Are you a retreater or a drama queen?

Crime Scene Christie


Anonymous said...

Oh Christi, you poor dear!

I would have to be called a retreater.

I was picking my kids up from school one day and all the sudden couldn't swallow. It was getting worse by the second. I didn't know what was happening.

So I dropped my kids off at the neighbors...she tried to get me to let her drive me, but all I really cared about was her taking care of my kiddos, I didn't want them to see me struggling for breath. I took off for the hospital driving myself. I got a mile from the house and everything started going black (lack of oxygen I was later told).

I pulled over at a driving range. The poor guy behind the counter called 911 as I stumbled inside. I didn't want him to, but couldn't speak to stop him. I laid on his floor rummaging through my purse. I finally found hubby's business card (his office was just down the highway) and gave it to the guy.

A medic on call arrived before the ambulance and told me I was having a panic attack and to calm down. (Calm down? I can't breathe! It's a good think I couldn't talk at that time.)

The ambulance arrived and the medic announced I was having a panic attack...but a female paramedics asked if I had allergies...hubby walked in at that moment and said, "She's allergic to everything."

The female paramedic looked at the medic who arrived first and said, "This is an anaphylactic shock. Now get the hell out."

Not wanting anymore attention (because truly I think there was a power play going on in the ranks of paramedics at that time), I had hubby drive me to the hospital, but the ambulance followed us anyway.

Gemma Halliday said...

I would have sued that first paramedic's booty off. Just because you were a girl they said it was a panic attack? Sigh...

I'm a retreater, too. Case in point, the concussion I got at this summer's conference. I kept thinking, "It's just a little bump on the head." A week later when I was still dizzy and seeing stars I finally went to the doctor. Staring at me like I'm growing a second head she asks, "Why didn't you go to the ER?" My answer: "I had a workshop to do!"

Terri Osburn said...

Oh goodness. Christie, thank goodness you got to the hospital when you did. At least you likely have a really cool battle scar from the ordeal.

I'm more a rationalizer. If I have a pain, I'll rationalize that it's really nothing and I'd be wasting my money and everyone's time if I make a big deal about it. Lucky for me, most things usually go away on their own.

The gall bladder probably needed to come out sooner than I let them take it. My doctor told me I was likely going to wake up one morning and see a yellow woman staring back from the mirror. So, when the attacks got to be too much, and I couldn't eat most of the things I wanted, and I had some time off work and could afford it, I let them take it. It was only two years from when they wanted to do it. What's two years?!

Tessy - I can't believe you didn't let the ambulance take you. LOL! Thank goodness that other paramedic showed up!

Gemma - My daughter had a baggy of water when I picked her up yesterday. She said she was just collecting water. I finally got it out of her that it was originally ice. As in an ice pack. As in she'd been hit in the head with a tether ball at school. LOL! Silly child.

Christie Craig said...


Goodness, that's scary. And yup, you are a retreater. Retreaters just want the situation to be taken care without any hoopla.

Thanks for sharing.


Christie Craig said...


And you did a bang up job of that workshop, too!

Hey, I felt the same way when I was sick in '95. I couldn't be sick, I had to give a workshop.


Christie Craig said...


A rationalizer, huh? I like that term.

And I've heard gall bladder issues can be tough. Hmm, only two years, huh?


Anonymous said...

No life or death story to tell, but I am definitely a retreater. Hey, I understood every thought you expressed and I don't have a temperature as an excuse.

And I, too, can attribute my being a retreater to a relative just like your aunt. I strive to find a healthier middle ground but it's a conscious struggle.

Thank goodness for your happy ending!


Christie Craig said...


Glad to have another retreater in my midst.

And you're right, we need to find that balance.


Wendy Roberts said...

Oh Christi, my side hurt just reading that!! So glad you didn't die! I feel your pain (well, not your side pain) but your ancestor pain as I come from the same long line of drama queens and thusly I've become a kind of retreator/martyr.

Next time don't wait!

Anonymous said...

My behavior is similar to yours, much to the annoyance of my hubby. A few years ago I had a charlie horse in the calf of my right leg that just wouldn’t go away. It annoyed me all day long. I massaged the leg and tried to walk it off but it just kept hurting, but hey, it was just a charlie horse right. That night I go to bed in pain, the next morning I get up in pain, this was one darn annoying cramp. Another day of massaging and walking with no relief, but hey, it was just a charlie horse right. The second evening I casually mentioned to my dear hubby that I had a charlie horse that was really annoying me. He asked how long had I’d been hurtng and when I answered two days he flipped out. He was quickly down on his knees checking out the leg. Gee, the color was kinda gray and the leg was kinda swollen. I never noticed that, but hey, it was just a charlie horse right. Hubby grabbed the phone and called our doctor. She told him not to wait for an ambulance and to get me to the ER as fast as he could. She would call ahead and they would meet me at the door. Hmm, I guess its not a charlie horse after all. After the ER docs pushed blood thinner into me I was told I had a cluster of blood clots in my calf and I could have dropped dead any time in the last 48 hours. Yikes. After the hubby calmed down and I stopped freaking out we made a deal. I obviously lose the the ability to think clearly when I am in pain, I just shut down and go into copeing mode. I promised to tell him about ANY PAIN after a few hours and let him decide if it is significant or not. It really is quite nice to have him around. Take care of yourself ..... Mo

Christie Craig said...


Those ancestors can really make a impression on us, can't they?

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Yup, the whole charlie horse experience sounds just like something I would do. Hmm...I think we need to work on that a bit. :-)

Thanks for stopping in.


Keri Ford said...

I fall in between. I don't make a drama moment out of everything, but I learned long ago that I only get one of these lives/bodies and not to play around with it. :O)

Christie Craig said...


That sounds like sound advice. I'm trying to remember that, too.


Estella said...

I guess I'm a retreater too. I hadn't been feling well for about a week and I finally asked my husband to take the day off and take me to he Dr. I spent 10 days in the hospital with pneumonia. The Dr told my family he didn't think I was going to make it. That was 10 years ago.

Christie Craig said...


Yikes...I think there's a lot of us retreaters out there. And when you think about it, being a retreater is almost as bad as being a drama queen. Well, almost...

Thanks for posting.


EmilyBryan said...

Bless your heart. I'm so glad not to have my appendix. I've had 2 close friends nearly die because that useless bit of anatomy.

But I confess to my annoyance that I have been diagnosed with panic attacks. The first time it happened, I was certain it was the BIG ONE. It was like a freight train rolling over my chest. If it hadn't happened to me, I'd never have believed it could feel so real. And the stupid thing is all in my head!!!!

Now that I know what it is, I calmly go into my Lamaze breathing, chanting "This too shall pass." Someday, I may actually have a heart attack, but at least I'll be calm about it.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Emily,

Jeepers, those panic attacks are nothing to sneeze at. I have a friend who has them and they are scary. They may not kill you, but they make you think you're dying.

And she said it does feel like a heart attack. Or at least what she thinks would feel like one.

So keep that breathing and chanting going. And thanks so much for stopping by.


catslady said...

I think it's a woman thing. I had what I thought was a heart attack shortly after giving birth to my daughter. I ignored it until the pain kept getting worse and more often (3 days) when I finally went to the doctors. I was poo-pooed - all in my head, just had a baby etc. 3 months later I almost died from a gall bladder ready to burst.

Christie Craig said...


Yikes. That sounds bad. I've heard the gall bladder symtoms are just like a heart attack. Doesn't sound fun.

I think you're right, I think most women are retreaters. Then again, there are the exceptions...the drama queens.
Thanks for stopping by.


Jenyfer Matthews said...

Catslady beat me to the punch - I was going to say that it's probably a woman thing. We have too much to do to let a little thing like pain or illness get in the way! Can you imagine your husband (and of you) feeling that sort of pain and saying "don't worry about me, it's just gas" :)

I've never had a life and death thing, but I have ruptured two discs in my back (on two different occasions) and just gone on about my business...

Christie Craig said...


My husband say it's a little gas? Not likely!!

He would whine about dying, but it would take four of me to get him to go to the doctor.

Thanks for stopping in.