There is an interesting thing that happens when one is faced with their own mortality. Many people talk about a moment when time stands still. I’ve been arguing with myself about writing this, but I’ve decided to go ahead and write about what happened and share it, and the message, with the general public.
It was a Saturday and I was driving to Washington DC to meet some of my friends at a conference. I had decided to grab some shrimp from a birthday party earlier that day. I had no idea I was allergic to shrimp, because I have eaten shrimp without a problem in the past.
Well, half a pound of shrimp and thirty minutes later, I’m walking down the street and feel the beginnings of hives. This was different than a “normal” outbreak of hives (I have several food allergies and unfortunately hives are a way of living for me) and grasped the severity of it when I felt my face swelling. I was 2 blocks away, and turned back to go to Union Station. By the time I walked hurriedly to Walgreens to get some benadryl, my hands, feet, arms, legs, and face all felt swollen. My eyes were beginning to swell shut and I felt the onset of tinnitus. 15 minutes had elapsed.
Upon entering, I looked at the cash register person and announced, “This is a medical emergency, where is your benadryl?”
The man at the counter looked up and stuttered, it was obvious by his reaction that my face was visibly swollen. He pointed me in the direction of the “back” and simply said “Along the wall, I’ll be there to help you in a moment.”
On my way to the back, as I rushed – I walked up to a group of three employees. I announced the same thing, “This is a medical emergency. I need benadryl. Where’s your benadryl?”
One kind gentleman brought me exactly to the wall where I needed to be, and I grabbed the first box that I saw. By the time I got up to the front of the store, I collapsed. I shakily got out my wallet and threw my credit card at the cash register man, asking for a bottle of water while on the floor. By the time they handed it all back to me, I was shaking so bad and my hands were so swollen that it was hard to open the packages. I somehow managed to do it and got 3 pills down with a whole bottle of water.
That’s when I noticed it was difficult to swallow.
I vocalized this to the people standing around, and this was where my senses started getting hazy. The manager walked by and informed me that she called the ambulance and the Union Station medic. By the time the medic got to me, I still had the ability to speak and gave him my information. I shakily handed him my driver’s license and let him know my age, address, and phone number. It was at this time when my sight started to waiver.
When the paramedics arrived on scene, that’s when my body started becoming limp. I couldn’t really see anything, because at this point I went physically blind. I forced myself to breathe and stay in my body, because I noticed that it was easy for me to not be present. I felt this calm sense of urgency surging through my blood to be present, and I took it one breath at a time.
When my vision went completely black, it was strange because I could still “see”. I couldn’t really see around me, but my senses were heightened in a way. I began to see energy. It was at this time when a great Buffalo Spirit came to stand beside me. I felt the energy shift at the presence.
The buffalo spoke and said, “You have two options. You can either stay here, or you can come with me.”
I knew deep down in my core the ultimatum he presented to me. My first thoughts were of my son. The second were of all of the work I had yet to do in this lifetime. I mentally told him a firm no and instead focused hard on staying in my body and breathing.
It was hard to breathe, it felt like breathing through a straw. I knew that I shouldn’t panic, because if I did, that would make the air not come. Slow, even, controlled breathing, like in my sitting practices…even though I was dying.
That was when I heard one of the medics say my blood pressure wasn’t reading. I remembered one of them saying they couldn’t feel a pulse. I remembered the high pitched hum of a defibrillator firing up. I remember someone shouting, “Ma’am, stay with us.” I know it might sound odd, but I could have swore I heard a medic “think”, “I don’t think the epinephrine is working, we might have given it too late.”
Still breathing, the only thoughts in my mind were of my son, and the beautiful world that I still had show to him. I had to stay. I forced myself to breathe. I couldn’t leave him.
This was when the Buffalo spirit nodded.
At that exact moment, I started coming back to life and vomited all of the shrimp in my stomach. I vomited for a good 5 minutes, and then that’s when I began to have seizures/tremors from the epinephrine. I remember being paralyzed and cognizant of what was happening, but not being able to speak or move voluntarily. I was so cold. It was terrifying with that lack of control, but at the same time, I was just so in the moment, that I couldn’t think of anything else. Nothing else runs through your mind when you’re in that state.
When I came too, the only thing I could think of was to apologize to the nice Walgreens employees who had to clean up the vomit on their floor. They kept telling me, “It’s okay ma’am.”
Eventually, after the tremors had eased to the point of me being able to speak and move of my own accord, the paramedics helped me stand and get to the stretcher. That was when I noticed the IV line in my arm, and one of them had reported my blood pressure being close to 50/30. Hey, that was an improvement from not having one at all.
Since I was coming out of it, I decided to grab my phone and begin calling/texting all of the people who I was supposed to be meeting that evening, as well as inform my housemate and the one watching my child. I was told it was quite comical to see a woman who was pale as a sheet from anaphylaxis on a cell phone, while holding up her own fluid bag as two paramedics wheeled her through Union Station on a stretcher.
I couldn’t stop shaking, and the tremors continued for two and a half hours. My fingernails were blue, and my blood pressure was still pretty low. The details of my escapades aren’t really that poignant for me to explain, but I do wish to express the spiritual type of experience that one walks away with from something like this. Yes, the experience was something simple and mundane (eating shrimp) – but it almost cost me my life. Why did I choose to bring up the Buffalo in this post when I could have just as easily left it out? Because to me, the Buffalo represents a choice, and represents a power that everyone has access to.
As most know from the topic of my website, as well as my business, that I am a Shamanic practitioner and energy worker. Most know that my descriptions of events and presentation are going to have a more “spiritual” aspect to things. I host a bi-weekly Shamanic Journey Group and frequently introduce the concepts of Helping Spirits/Guides to people – because we don’t need to have a near death experience in order to have a connection to one of them. The Buffalo that came to me was not an average helping spirit that one would journey and find on first encounter. The Buffalo stood for, and represented, a connection to a greater purpose.
Malidoma Patrice Some is a wonderful Shaman of the Dagara tradition. He explains this concept beautifully, where everyone carries a certain “responsibility” with them by just existing. If a person is alive, they take resources to live. They require food, water, shelter, etc. If a person were to appreciate what they have, then they would have gratitude and know that in order to live, it takes resources. Life doesn’t freely give without any expectation of not getting anything back. There is a sacred giving and receiving, and an awareness that you are a part of a greater whole, a greater collective. If you take resources from the great web of life – that means you must give back. In the Dagara tradition, the way you give back to the great web of life is by living your life’s purpose, or living your own unique genius. I’ve talked about this before in previous posts, and on the main page of my website. I believe that we were all born into this world for a reason. Your unique set of gifts, experiences, and the way you live your life right here and right now are a type of medicine. It’s something that you bring to this world that no one else can offer. Most people choose to not see themselves as a gift, and most people avoid stepping into their power – choosing to give their power over to someone else. It is this lack of responsibility and hoping that someone is going to come along and “save them” that gets them into trouble. We lack good leadership in this culture because we are projecting our leadership on those in “positions of power”, instead of finding the leadership where it really needs to stem from. Within ourselves.
What most people don’t realize is that they are holding themselves back when they do this. When we expect other people to do the work for us, or when we don’t think that we could do the work ourselves, we cheat ourselves into superficiality. We take the “easy” way out. We were born into this life for a reason, and I believe that the purpose we have as we live our lives, is to really awaken into who we are. To be the Medicine that we came here to be.
There are three stages to becoming the medicine you really are in this world. When we first learn to pick up our medicine, it acts as a poison in our life. This is what is meant when we are “toxic”, or when people express an “ickyness” when interacting with a person. It’s because they’re spewing energetically out of a wound, and that manifests as unhealthy reactions and relationships. It’s not until we stop pushing away this “poison” and allow this poison to truly transform us. There are many people who take a spiritual by-pass to this work and say something along the lines of, “Just send love and light” without diving deep into what is driving us to act this way. It’s not until we stop and really evaluate why things are happening, and why patterns keep repeating – that we are able to come to a full understanding of an unhealthy/destructive pattern we have.
When we allow the poison to truly touch us – we are transformed. Through this transformation, we are changed and we can’t fathom being the same person that we were before. It it through this, that we touch the poison as this transformed “antidote”. This is the transformation of poison into medicine through our own direct revelation. This is the second stage.
The third and last stage is taking that medicine, picking it up, and bringing it out into the world. If we have done the work to transform ourselves and transform our poison – it’s now considered our job and our responsibility to bring that medicine out into the world to help other people.
In an indigenous culture, it would be an abuse of power to not pick up your medicine, or step into your power – when we deny ourselves what we have worked so hard to achieve. Most people don’t realize the toxic behavior they do have, and they sit there waiting for someone else to save them, destroying themselves and their relationships in the meantime.
Wake up. Realize you have the ability to do something. Every process begins within. When something upsets you in your environment, take the time to see why it really upset you. Dive into your own wounds and see what makes you tick. Who knows, maybe what really hurts you inside is a gift that’s waiting to be surfaced and you just need to wade through the poison and allow yourself to change so you can be the medicine this world needs.
All I know is that I walked out of that Emergency room a changed person. I realized that I had a lot more things in this life to live for, and at any moment it could be taken away from me. I was lucky enough to be given a choice to stay or go. It would have been so easy to have been selfish, to have looked at everything that I don’t have in this life, to look at my struggles and just have easily gone to go with Buffalo. But you know what? I chose to stay. I chose to be the medicine, because my son needs me in this world. Maybe he doesn’t know it right now, but I chose to stay for him and his generation. The ones that are just learning how to walk and talk need us here, and they need us to be fully awake and aware. We damage others when we are not aware of our actions and spread toxicity in this world.
Everyone was born into this life for a reason. The earth is in need of medicine. You are the medicine. And I am the medicine. We all are the medicine. And the earth is going to pull this medicine out of us no matter what state we are in.
The choice is yours:
Are you the medicine, or the poison?