The Day I Almost Died
June 3, 1998 was a day that my life changed. I had been unable to keep food or liquids
down for ten days. I had made numerous visits to the emergency room and I was told every time
that there was no medical reason I was ill. My doctor actually went as far as to say, “its all in
your head.” I was shocked, I knew something was wrong, I had only been this ill when I was
pregnant and I wasn’t. I was shaking I was so angry that the doctor would say such a thing. I
could feel in my gut something was seriously wrong, how dare he say it was all in my head.
I shouldn’t have been so surprised since men always think women are overreacting.
On the evening of June 2 I got up in the middle of the night to get a drink from the
kitchen. As I stood up the entire room was spinning, I felt like I just got off the teacups at
Lagoon. My body was sweaty and I felt like I was on fire. I was weak and shaky, as I took
a few steps I passed out. I woke up on the floor. I don’t know how long I had laid there. I
tried yelling for my husband. I was weak, I hardly had a voice. All that came out was a
whisper, “Are you awake?” I don’t know if I fell asleep or passed out again. When I woke up
the second time the sun was out. I knew my husband would be awake and getting ready for
work, he would find me on the floor. Finally, which seemed like hours he found me and helped
me onto the couch. He was ready to leave for work, as he started to leave, I said to him, “Are
you just going to leave me here?” His response was in a high pitched, no big deal tone, “What
do you want me to do, the doctor said, “its all in your head.” As I cried, I asked him to take
our three children, who were 7, 5 and 3 to their grandmothers. He angrily got them ready,
cussing under his breath that I should quit faking and watch our kids. As him and our children
went out the door I stated, “When you get home from work, I will be dead.” After all the
accusations of me being over dramatic he called the doctor. We dropped our children off to
Grandma and headed to the doctors office. After arriving at the doctors office I was told I
would be admitted to the hospital for dehydration. I had made numerous emergency room
visits over the last ten days so was relieved that finally something was going to be done. I
felt relief, I sighed, I was hopeful the doctors would figure out what was wrong. I was
admitted around 8:30am, I changed into a gown, got into bed and the nurse came in to
start and IV. Over the proceeding hour a few nurses and nursing assistants came into check
my vital signs. After my blood pressure was taken the first time I asked the nurse, “what is it?”
She ignored my question and said she would be right back. I didn’t understand, don’t I have a
right to know? A few minutes later a different nurse came in, again she took my blood pressure
and again I asked, “what is it?” The nurse said their machine was not working and she would go
get another one. A few moments later two nurses with a new machine came in. I thought, “I
do it the old fashioned way why don’t you?” My blood pressure was taken again and again I
asked. She left the room, my heart was racing and I was shaking I was so angry I could feel
my face turning red. I over heard the nurse on the phone. “No doctor, I cannot find a pulse…..
well of course she must have one, she is talking…..” I didn’t hear anything after that, I had a
sick feeling in my stomach,” something is really wrong”, I thought. The nurse returned and
explained the highest reading the blood pressure machine was getting was 50/10, they could
not find my pulse and my heart rate was 140BPM. My thoughts were all over the place, I was
a licensed Nursing Assistant and I knew this was all bad news. The nurse told me the doctor said
he would be in soon. Trying to wait patiently, sweaty and shaky a phlebotomist walked in at
10am. He did a blood draw, so many things were going through my mind, one of course was,
“How are my kids going to be without me?”
After the nurse calling the doctor numerous times he showed up at 2pm. He came in
and said, “I need to transfer you to University Hospital in Salt Lake.” My heart was pounding,
I was barely able to move I was so scared. He explained that I would be seeing an oncologist.
“Oh great”, I thought. “I knew I had cancer and this idiot said,” it’s all in my head”. Thankfully
after my anger subsided I was told he was a hematologist and they had not found cancer but that
my blood count was crazy.
I was told I could go by ambulance, my husband could drive me or I could go by Life
Flight. “Did I need Life Flight?”, I thought to myself. After a lot of questions I felt going by
Ambulance, although I was worried I felt safe doing that.
My husband had went to work after I was admitted to the hospital so I had to locate him.
I called his office and left a message with his secretary. Frantically I started dialing family
members and asked them to please find him. I remember being loaded into the ambulance, I
remember speaking to the EMT’s and I remember the rain hitting the sides of the ambulance.
The next thing I remember was waking up and my neck felt stiff and the hospital bed was
tipped up so my head was pointing to the floor. My room was dark, I could hear someone crying
quietly. I tried turning my head, I discovered I had a main line IV in my neck that blood was
pumping into. I tried to call to the person that I could hear, my voice was still a whisper. I made
some movement and my husband ran over crying. I said, “What happened?” He told me how I
went unconscious and they had found a bleeding ulcer that they had to cauterize. I had lost four
units of blood and that was why I was getting a blood transfusion. My appendix had ruptured and
I had had to have my gall bladder removed because it was so inflamed. I was thankful to be alive
at this point. My smart alec side said in a very angry whisper, “I told you if you left me at home
this morning I would be dead when you got home.” My husband said, “Cheryl that was three
days ago.” In the next few days I had to have an emergency hysterectomy. I could have left my dead. If I had not
been sent to this specialist my family would have been left without me. I learned that I had
Von Willebrands, this is a blood disorder similar to a hemophiliac. I had cysts on my ovaries
which were bleeding. Thankful the worst was behind me and grateful to be alive I didnt have
a care in the world. The doctor said when I arrived at the hospital they could not get a blood
pressure, a pulse or a heart rate, I was presumed dead. They revived me and got me into surgery.
What they found was that I was drowning in my own blood. My stomach was pooled with four
units of blood, they drained it and gave me a transfusion, over the next couple days I had to have
I knew I was going to die that day, I am relieved that I am still here, I was able to raise
my children and have grandchildren. I am very glad for the doctors who revived me and took
such good care of me. From that day on I NEVER have let a doctor tell myself or anyone else,
“its all in your head.” I ignore that comment and fight with every breath to get medical attention.