Three years ago today, I suffered the most terrifying trauma of my life. I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. My husband & I didn’t know it that day, but apparently somehow a bunch of debris suddenly gathered behind my chimney’s flue, pushing it slightly closed. Not enough to smoke up the house when the fireplace was lit, but it was just enough to fill it with carbon monoxide after hubby left for work.
As seems to be my new February tradition, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this recently. Coming close to death definitely makes you reevaluate your life. Plus the damage to my brain changed my personality a great deal, which is actually a good thing in some ways. I’ve gotten better at self care & not tolerating abuse among other things, so I’m still getting to know this new me & what I want & need.
One thing that I realized that I need to remind myself of frequently is life can change drastically or even end in an instant. (I certainly didn’t wake up on February 27, 2015 expecting to nearly die that evening or that it was going to be the first day of a new life full of weird health problems & a lot of brain damage.) I think it’s an excellent idea to life life without regrets, because you don’t know when or how your life will change or even end.
I realize living every day like it’s your last isn’t quite possible. You still have a job, housework, budgeting, family obligations & what not to consider of course. But, I think it’s an excellent idea to get in any joy in life where you can, to do things you want to do or try new things as often as possible. Even little things can make a big difference. Go for a drive without a destination in mind & blare your favorite music on the radio. Grab a milkshake once in a while. Buy a new color of nail polish (one of my favorites) or dye your hair a fun, funky color. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, why you love them & do it often. Make time for a hobby you love or pick up an old hobby you once abandoned. If time is an issue, look over your schedule & streamline it. I have a routine for my housework that helps me to maintain a clean home with spending the minimum amount of time on it. Doing a little almost daily is easier for me than doing a lot a couple of days each week since I run out of energy quickly. It also allows me more time available for writing, hobbies, spending time with friends or whatever I want.
It seems to me that society values being busy, but that just isn’t healthy or conducive to enjoying every moment in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being productive 24/7! Even God took a day of rest after creating everything, & then told His people to do the same! (see Genesis 2:1-3) He did NOT create people to be non stop busy. He created people to work & also to take time to enjoy their lives. When you get to the end of your life, don’t you want to think about what a well lived life you had & not what a busy one you had?
Another thing society values that I realized isn’t healthy is being overly positive. Yes, positivity is good. It can help you avoid depression. However, being too positive can set you up for disappointment. Did you know many people who commit suicide are known for being optimistic? They became depressed when they were repeatedly disappointed.
Being too positive can set you up for feeling shame, too. If you’re very positive yet end up feeling negatively or unable to find good in a situation, it can make you feel terrible shame. That’s not good! If you know very positive people, you also know you can’t tell them you’re sad or disappointed, because they’ll make you feel ashamed of yourself. They’re not people you can be real & honest with, & that’s not good either!
I’ve found I have much more peace & less stressful being realistic. Sure, I look for the good, but I’m also not ashamed for getting depressed, angry or disappointed sometimes. I’m also not ashamed to say sometimes, things just stink & I can’t find anything positive in the situation.
Another thing to consider… your relationships. While soul searching after my awful experience, I also took the time to evaluate the relationships in my life. When I realized that through the complete delirium of the poisoning, I still had the sense to tell my husband as soon as I saw him never tell my parents about this, it was a huge wake up call for me. I knew anyone who wouldn’t care that I nearly died couldn’t be a part of my life, & they wouldn’t have cared. I also realized some friends weren’t good for me or at least they weren’t what I wanted in a relationship. The relationships were too one sided & some didn’t even care about what I experienced. Saying, “You’ll be fine”, “But you didn’t die!” or “Glad you’re ok.. so anyway *subject change*” after such an experience showed me how cold & uncaring these people were.
What about your relationships? If, God forbid, something terrible happened to you, could you count on the people in your life being there for you? Would they be care about your pain & suffering or would they brush you off? If they wouldn’t be there for you, then it might be time to consider whether or not you really want them in your life. You deserve good, loving people with whom you can have an equal & loving relationship. There is nothing wrong with refusing to settle for less than that!
John 10:10 is beautifully said in the Amplified translation: “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Jesus died not only so we could spend eternity with Him & have a relationship with God the Father, but also so we can enjoy life while we’re alive here on this planet. There is no good excuse not to enjoy your life! You deserve it! Jesus obviously thought so too! So why not start thinking about ways you can add more joy to your daily life?
14 responses to “Getting The Most Out Of Your Life”
That’s a sobering story. I didn’t know this had happened to you. I assume your husband found you? That must have been terrible for him. It’s funny how extreme life-situations can reveal unexpected good friends and well as bad ones. I took quite a lot (breakdown & redundancy) to realise some people that I made a lot of effort were not actually real friends but what I call “fake friends”. Yes, life can change in a blink of an eye. Thank you for the food for thought.
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He actually didn’t find me per se.. what happened was it’d been working on me all day & I was unaware. Knew I felt badly but didn’t have the ability to realize something was wrong. That evening I took a shower. Came out to find the fireplace started smoking up the house just a bit. Nothing crazy. I squatted in front of it with the poker to fix it, & must’ve passed out at that point, hitting my head on the stack of firewood beside it. (Ended up getting 11 staples in my scalp & a big scar under my hair from that) I came to & the house was full of smoke. I didn’t have the wherewithal to fix it, so I opened windows & called my husband to gripe. He said he knew something was wrong immediately since that was out of character for me, but when I said “Humph.. wonder why there’s all this blood on the floor” it scared him. He called 911. Later I sent him home from the ER & he found what he described as a pool of blood by the fireplace.
It is interesting isn’t it? Traumatic situations can reveal the absolute best or worst in people around you. At least that’s one good thing that comes of it.
Ugh.. fake friends. They do make us appreciate the real ones, that’s for sure!
You’re welcome. I figured I might as well share this in case it’d help anyone. I was going to write about it anyway in my journal, as usual- I just made it a blog entry instead.
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Thank you, Cynthia. That’s a scary story of what happened to you. That was clearly a massive whack to your head – did you have contusions/bruising/bleeds in your brain as well as damage to the outside of your skull? It’s just that you said it has taken a long time to recover from this incident and I know that anything to the brain is slow to heal (although the brain can repair and recover in amazing ways). The interesting thing about traumatic situations is that quite a lot of people don’t want to hear about them. Or maybe they want to hear about the events but not the emotions. I found that people were kind to me after my PTSD & breakdown but didn’t want to know anything about it but many people pretty much ran away from me when I was being made redundant. I didn’t mind the people who said “I don’t know what to say” because that was honest. and I probably wouldn’t have known what to say in that situation.
It really was scary what happened. Thinking about it still shakes me up badly.
The hospital said I didn’t have any brain damage, but they also said carbon monoxide poisoning is “no big deal.” Clueless people! I would guess I did get a concussion though. I read about concussion symptoms after it happened & I had all of the symptoms at first. In all fairness, most of them overlap with symptoms of CMP, other than the neck pain that I still have. Unfortunately I couldn’t do follow up care because my insurance ran out at midnight the night I was in the ER & we couldn’t get more insurance at that time. I knew we couldn’t afford doctor visits & honestly, I didn’t realize just how serious the situation was for some time anyway.
What I did learn though is CMP takes months to heal from, IF you heal at all. The healing happens over 9-12 months & after 12 months whatever symptoms you still have most likely are lifelong.
That’s so true about when traumatic things happen. Very few can handle hearing about them as well as the emotions that went with them.
Those who admit they don’t know what to say at least are honest! When my father was dying, a couple I know were silent. When they came by one day & I mentioned it, one of them said that & said that’s why they didn’t say anything. I could deal with that- it was honest & they didn’t try to shut me up when I talked about it.
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That’s terrible that your insurance ran out at the critical moment – this is why people in the UK are passionate about the NHS (National Health Service) although the current government is doing its best to destroy it with underfunding and Brexit.
I couldn’t believe the timing with the insurance! I’m glad it at least covered my emergency room & ambulance expenses.
Goodness.. I hope the NHS stays! Wishing you the best with that!
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Thank you x
You’re welcome. ❤
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Thank God you survived! The world wouldn’t be the same without you. You’ve helped me so much, and I know that many others can say the same thing.
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Thank you so much, Suzanne. ❤
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I had wondered how this awful thing befell you and always assumed it had to do with a car.
My God; what a nightmare.
Do you miss the parts of yourself that are gone? (And please forgive me if that’s intrusive.)
“When I realized that through the complete delirium of the poisoning, I still had the sense to tell my husband as soon as I saw him never tell my parents about this, it was a huge wake up call for me.”
Oh, boy. I never went through anything nearly like what you did, but I sure do understand why you felt / feel the way you do.
I remember once, in my twenties, telling a friend of mine (who came from a wonderfully-loving, supportive family) that, “Family are the people who try to keep you from doing what you want to do.”
Reading your story the other day made me realize that Mr. Happy now fills that role in my life: He is T.H.E. L.A.S.T. person I tell or would tell ANYTHING. It’s easier to say nothing about everything than it is to try to figure out how he’ll use it AGAINST me one day down the road.
Considering my car is almost 50 & has no emissions, it’s a surprise it wasn’t the car, but nope- the stupid fireplace.
A nightmare for sure. I just thank God that carbon monoxide hovers about 5′ off the ground so none of the furkids were hurt from it.
It’s not intrusive at all. I don’t miss the old parts of me that are gone. The new me is healthier (mentally) which is a blessing.
Wow. What you said about family is so very true of dysfunctional ones. Sad but true. They really do want to stop you from doing what you want & make you do what they want.
I understand totally! Why tell someone something they’ll just use to hurt you? It’s like being with a murderer & handing him a knife of loaded gun. It’s why I didn’t tell my parents. I knew it’d end up hurting me more than the poisoning. My father would’ve gone into catastrophizing mode (“What would’ve happened if you died?! Eric would sell the house & get rid of the cats….”) & my mother would’ve told me it’s no big deal, she can’t help me in any way because of her back problems then fill me in on the latest with that. Why put up with things like that if they can be avoided?
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I’m glad you don’t miss the old you. I was so worried about that. I guess I could liken it to how I don’t miss smoking or other bad habits I’ve broken.
Hadn’t even thought about your furkids! Thank God, indeed, about that five-foot thing, although that kinda puts it right at ground zero to mess with YOU!
If that had been me, the VERY FIRST (and likely only) THING out of my mother’s mouth woulda been, “I TOLD YOU not to get a fireplace” or “This is why I’m against fireplaces” or “You HAD to have a fireplace, huh?”
Yeah, yeah! That “catastrophizing” (never heard that before) is a HUGE favourite of Mr. Happy! Nothing is so bad that it can’t be turned into The Worst Thing EVER.
No need to worry- it’s fine. I’m glad I don’t miss the old me too. It’s kinda frustrating- I finally got to know me (not who the narcissists turned me into) just in time to lose that person & have to get to know this new me. Oh well…
Right!! I do thank God for the furkids being ok! But my word.. I’m 5’6″- the carbon monoxide was right at my nose/mouth all that day! No wonder I got so messed up- it was super easy to inhale!
HA! I forgot that! What your mom would’ve said, mine probably would have too! It would’ve been my fault. Don’t you just love narcissists? UGH!
That’s catastrophizing in a nutshell! Amazing isn’t it? Did you ever see the movie “Kindergarten Cop”? Funny movie.. anyway in one scene, the teacher says he has a headache, & this little kid says “It could be a tumor.” I nicknamed my father the “could be a tumor” kid. lol It helped me not to get as mad about it. Maybe it’d help you too.
Here’s the scene on YouTube if you want to check it out.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaTO8_KNcuo
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