Friday, March 1, 2013

I died today, a year ago

Well, actually a year ago today. March 1st 2012 was a beautiful late Winter afternoon when I flatined during the Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) biopsy at PinnacleHealth Hospital on the banks of the Susquehanna River. 

Since I was concealing my diagnosis of lung cancer from everyone except my daughter, here is a peak behind the curtain of that day.

Never take a minimally invasive outpatient procedure for granted. Told there was less than a 3% chance of something going wrong I relaxed to the anesthesia that is until I became “acutely bradycardiac”. As pulse and blood pressure dropped out surgeons began CPR while anesthesiologist “gave resuscitation with drugs”.

During all of this I saw no tunnel with deceased family members reaching out to encourage me to go into the light.

Instead I awoke to my thoracic surgeon’s voice asking me where my daughter was?

Blinking awake, cardiologists began descending on me because apparently when asked if anything hurt coming out of anesthesia I had pointed to my chest. Duh! My surgeons had been whomping on my chest to revive my heart.

Little to nothing was explained to me just more questions, until my daughter called on my cell phone with her famous quip “Well are you resurrected or a zombie?”

Obviously I was oblivious through it all. Apparently I was revived with an injection of atropine and epinephrine. Sorry nothing as dramatic as Hollywood images of John Travolta stabbing a long needle into the heart of Ulma Thurman as in Pulp Fiction, instead it was injected into my IV.

My anesthesiologist shared some more of the story. Besides assuring me that oxygen to my brain was never impaired he remarked about my name tags on my gown.

Since a wee lad I have had to fight to use my middle name. I never respond to my first name so it occurred to me “what if” and in preparation for outpatient surgery had made up some labels to wear on my gown, “just in case” you needed to get my attention. 

Apparently as soon as surgeons performing CPR used my preferred name, “Patrick” I rocked that flatline back to life. 

Hate name tags? Someday somewhere one may save your life.

Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @

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