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I teetered on the brink of death.

By February 28, 2024Reflection6 min read

Have you ever been overwhelmed, struggling for breath in an abundance of air? This narrative unfolds the day I teetered on the brink of death.

The last image my camera captured as gasped for breath.

On days awash with sunlight, a silent beckoning lures us outdoors to explore the world’s grand tapestry, a place where art is not merely observed but felt. I ventured forth, fueled by the belief I was on a pilgrimage to seize the quintessence of beauty at the 225fest.

With my equipment precisely prepared and a hopeful wish for convenient parking, luck was on my side, finding a spot a mere 40 feet from the entrance. Entering the festival with zeal, I was determined to make a lasting impression on the community I cherish. The atmosphere buzzed with the spirit of known artists, their works igniting an electric vibe that was palpable.

However, as if fate decided to intensify the day’s luminosity, I was struck by a realization with each forward step—I was not as physically ready as I thought. A wave of dizziness overcame me, making every movement an arduous task. The desire for the solace of a seat overwhelmed me. Settling down, my breath slowly found its rhythm again, providing a moment of peace.

This pause was set against the backdrop of a gospel group on the main stage, their melodies floating through the air. Nearby, a couple expressed their displeasure at the somber songs, yet the singer’s soul-stirring rendition of “Speak to my heart lord, show your holy word” struck a deep chord with me. Seated, I joined in the song, the lyrics touching me both metaphorically and literally.

At that moment, my Apple Watch alerted me to my rising heart rate. Amidst this spiritual reawakening and engulfing melodies, a thought surfaced—perhaps indulging in that energy drink had been ill-advised.

Regaining some composure, I navigated through the crowd, edging closer to the stage, only to be confronted again by my betraying breath. It was in this moment, gasping for air, that I recognized a deeper issue at play. With this realization, I made the tough decision to leave. I proceeded cautiously, taking small steps and resting when necessary, my camera gear still securely attached.

I checked Apple Maps to assess the distance to my car—just 40 feet away, a block past the Louisiana Arts Museum’s rear entrance. Yet, each step was monumental, every breath a struggle. My body, normally so dependable, now seemed to defy me, rebelling against its commands.

Awakening to a soothing warmth, I initially enjoyed the sensation before the harsh reality dawned on me—I was lying on the ground. In a rushed effort to stand, I found myself collapsing again.

A voice, filled with concern and familiarity, reached out, “Are you okay?” I managed a quick, though strained, reply, “Yes, I just need to get to my car.” The urgency to reach my car had two motivators: first, the responsibility of safeguarding thousands of dollars in personal equipment attached to me, and second, the belief that once relieved of this burden in the refuge of my car, I could take a moment to breathe, and all would be well.

I staggered towards my car, visible at the end of the block, a beacon of hope in my ordeal. Each step required a pause, using parked vehicles as supports to regain strength and breath, each serving as a temporary aid on my path to safety. Reaching my car, I carefully placed my equipment on the passenger seat, a silent witness to the day’s initial purpose, now overshadowed by my current state. “Just need to close the door,” I focused on this task, monumental in its simplicity. Once the door clicked shut, enclosing me inside, I saw my sister-in-law and nephew across the street, quickly approaching with concern visible on their faces.

A plan formed—I would drive to my brother’s house, a haven where I could ensure my safety and then call 911. This decision, a mix of instinct and necessity, marked my next step towards seeking assistance.

The drive to my brother’s home seemed endless, each second elongating in my heightened state of anxiety. As luck would have it, he was just exiting his vehicle as I arrived. In a desperate plea for help, I honked my horn and yelled for him to call 911, the words “I can’t breathe” escaping me in gasps.

Miraculously, within minutes, the sound of sirens heralded the arrival of a fire truck and an ambulance. I was swiftly given oxygen, a crucial aid in my critical moment. The paramedics, both efficient and caring, transported me to the hospital. There, a quick diagnosis revealed a terrifying reality: multiple blood clots had lodged in my lungs. Immediate treatment began with blood thinners, initiating my fight for recovery.

Now, as I sit propped in a hospital bed, I reflect on this narrow escape from death, a pursuit for air at mortality’s edge. Writing these words, I bear witness to resilience and a sequence of providential events on a day meant for capturing art beneath the sun’s joyful light in the city.

Though the art I sought to capture eluded me, every moment of that day has etched itself in my memory. This narrative, my friends, is more than just a story; it is a vivid portrait of survival, a reminder of the thin line between life and death, and the importance of heeding our body’s whispers before they turn into screams.

Pulmonary Embolism:

Signs and Symptoms

Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal. The signs and symptoms of a PE include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain that’s sharp and stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus

Call an ambulance or 9-1-1 immediately for treatment in the ER if you experience these PE symptoms.

Learn more about how a PE is diagnosed here.

Mr Don M Green

Author Mr Don M Green

Award Winning photographer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana

More posts by Mr Don M Green

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