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Barely Breathing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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It was the fifth inning, we were up by two runs, there was a runner on second base with only one out, and I was behind the plate as catcher. This was the situation when my life was almost taken from me.

As one of the best batters for the opposing softball team came up to bat, I called for a curveball. As I heard the crack of the bat, I immediately looked up, searching for the ball. In a split second I was on the ground flailing and gasping for air. The ball had not gone far; it only tipped the bat, then hit my exposed neck at about 70 miles per hour. The ball hit my windpipe and nearly caused me to have a fatal asthma attack. Luckily, I had my inhaler in my bag.

Some say this was just a game and I should have stopped playing and gone to the doctor. However, softball is my life; my team is my family, and I would never let them down. I had to stay in the game until the end. I finished the game – we won by two runs – and as it ended my mother decided I should get my neck examined due to the discoloration, swelling, and harm this injury could have done to my windpipe.

The doctor gave me a 12-hour steroid shot to control the swelling. The ball had hit the narrowest part of my windpipe, making the possibility of swelling fatal.

Against my mother's wishes, I went to school the next day, with the thought of make-up work convincing me to go. During third period, I realized why my mom had not wanted me to go to school; I began having more and more difficulty breathing.

I ran to my coach's office to tell him and he called my mother, telling her to come immediately since he could see I was struggling. Because my mother could not get there quickly enough, my aunt came and take me to the doctor.

When she saw my face, she rushed me to the car and headed to the emergency room. On the way I could barely get a word out. My aunt had called the hospital, so when we arrived the nurses were waiting with a wheelchair ready to rush me in. As it turns out, this was a deciding factor of life or death for me.

The nurses brought a portable X-ray machine to view the bones in my neck, to make sure that none were out of place. To check for swelling, the ENT (ear, nose, and throat) surgeon had to place a scope up through my nose into my throat without medication since there wasn't time.

As my mother and ­father arrived, the ENT surgeon said she needed them to sign the order to intubate me, or I would die within minutes. The swelling had almost completely blocked my windpipe, allowing little air into my lungs. This was the scariest thing that I have ever been told.

As my mother quickly signed the order, they rushed to intubate me. My mother kissed me, saying, “I love you, Sunshine, to the moon and back.” As they rushed me down the hallway, my father ran with me. He kept saying, “I love you more than anything, my little girl. Everything will be okay.” He tried to hide his tears; this was the only time I ever saw him cry.

When they told my father he had to let me go, this made him cry harder. At this point I was in a room with people running around, yelling things I did not understand, but these people were here to save my life. The nurse gave me anesthesia to put me to sleep.

I tried to tell the nurse that I was still awake, but my body would not move and I could not speak. I could feel everything that was being done to me. As they inserted the tube down my throat, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. But instead of being able to tell them to help me, I was lying on a surgical bed in pain, helpless.

Though the nurses were giving me anesthesia, I kept waking up. I was on the ventilator for three days, and was awake most of the time. The pain was so unbearable I tried to rip the tube out of my throat, so they were forced to tie my hands to the bed.

At the time I felt like giving up, I saw my boyfriend, my brother who came home all the way from Athens, my nana who came from Tennessee, my papa, my mother, and my father. For all of these people and many more reasons, I had to fight. I could not give up on them. After this point, I do not remember much. However this was not the end of my journey.

After three days of intubation in the critical care unit, I was moved to the intensive care unit for two more days. My family and friends stayed with me every minute. I was unable to speak, drink, or eat, but I could communicate by writing on a dry-erase board.

My mother and brother were the ones who kept everyone calm and together, but when I wrote “Help me” on the board, they both nearly broke down. This was the first time they truly understood the pain and fear I was facing. After five days, I was allowed to go home. I stayed home from school four more days because of the strain of talking.

I never realized how many friends and loved ones I had until I received all of the cards, balloons, and flowers people sent me. If it had not been for these people who kept me in their thoughts and prayers, I would not be here today.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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kaci bush said...
Apr. 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

it was a really hard situation to be in and it has had a huge impact on my family and my friends.  It truly made me appreciate life and I am fine now besides being hormonal and gaining 30 lbs from the steroids they gave me and im glad too. 

im really sorry to hear about your cousin but God has a plan for everyone and I know that he is still here today for a reason

 
htrae22 said...
Mar. 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm
i cant believed this happened tp you this should not happen to any young person are you ok now?  i am very glad you didnt die
 
Dreamcatcher said...
Mar. 2, 2011 at 1:54 pm
My cousin almost died yesterday. If it had not been for his dad's experience with medicine, he would not be here. Even so, he barely made it. So I can imagine how that situation would be really terrifying for your family.
 
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