More Seizure Coma Death Moments

by Elizabeth

This blog post is brought to you by a 100% Harm Avoidance gal, in the spirit of a life lived the Seizure Coma Death way. I present to you now, purely for your reading pleasure, true stories from this last month:


A fever and a hacking cough recently afflicted my youngest daughter. One night as she’s crying in pain, I wake to give her more Tylenol, to bring down her fever. I leave her room thinking, “Hmmm, she’s worse than the night before, when she slept all night without her fever spiking.” I begin to worry thus: Oh no, it’s probably that new mutant strain of the flu that’s worse than most flus but starts as a regular cold and gets worse and worse and worse until. . . it moves into the lungs and my baby might DIE.


And then, as I crawl back into bed, I notice that my big toe is hurting. This is my OTHER big toe, because the first one is already fighting an infected/ingrown nail. When I realize both toes are hurting, I think, Oh no!!! I have DIABETES!! I never knew a 5-pound weight gain could be enough to propel me into type 2 diabetes. I am going to be stuck the rest of my life having to take meds for this.

So I toss and turn awhile and Jonathan finally notices and asks, “Are you ok?” I answer, “NO! I am not ok! I think I have diabetes. Both my toes hurt. My feet aren’t healing.” He retorts, “The reason feet are a problem for diabetics is because they CAN’T feel their feet, not because they CAN; your feet are fine. Go back to bed.” So I try. Even though my toes are still in pain.

The weather here affects my feet I guess, making them more dry and calloused than usual. So maybe I need to invest in some sort of foot cream.

But probably not Metformin.



Later that week, a killer mosquito attacks Jonathan and me. First, it attacks him. We had gone to bed early that night to try to recover from the sleep loss associated with, you know, COUGHING KID. So we are tossing and turning, in and out of sleep, listening to our dear sweet little hacker, when suddenly he jumps out of bed, all flustered, saying a mosquito bit him on the lip. It’s swelling HUGE, and it hurts. I give him the Benadryl cream and we look for, but cannot find, the Perpetrator.


I cover my entire self with the sheets, except for my face, so I can, you know, BREATHE, and I fall back asleep. Then about an hour later, I wake up with a pain in my lip, and it’s a teeny tiny bit itchy. Fearing the worst, I run to the bathroom, only to discover a bite that is TAKING OVER MY FACE. Numbness and tingling spread all the way down to my chin. My lip simultaneously balloons outward and swells all the way INTO my mouth, where I can feel the bulge on the inside of my lips. I think: And when the swelling reaches my windpipe, I will die.

So I slather on the Benadryl cream and search for that blasted mosquito. When I finally find it, I swipe at it with the electric bug zapper. The zapper buzzes the mosquito no fewer than 5 times (usually 1 or 2 zaps is enough to slay a mosquito). When it falls to the ground, it is STILL WRITHING. Of course, even a mosquito as hardy as that can’t survive my foot: one stomp finishes the job nicely.

It takes all night for the swelling on my lip to go down. The tingling doesn’t fully subside until later the next day.

But my airways are still intact.

For now.

Seizure, Coma, Death

by Elizabeth

Jonathan and a friend, on his last day at the hospital.

Jonathan and a friend, on his last day at the hospital.

Seizure, coma, death: the end process of all diseases. My husband Jonathan discovered the end results of disease in nursing school, where one of his instructors made the phrase seizure, coma, death somewhat of a joke. Me? All I had to do was be born the harm-avoidant, overreacting hypochondriac that I am. I can extrapolate any symptom or situation all the way to end-of-life processes. And I don’t need the help of nursing school to do that; I can do it all by my lonesome self.

Seizure, coma, death: it’s the place I always go. For me, the worst option is always the first option. Case in point?

Continue reading

It’s 1am, and I need an Epi-Pen (Or, How Harm Avoidance Can Disrupt Your Sleep)

If you are known for your 100% Harm Avoidance, and are awakened from a dead sleep by two insanely itchy mosquito bites, which are swelling your fingers into sausages, and preventing you from closing your fist because your swollen skin is stretched too tight, and your arm is numb and tingly all the way up to your elbow, you may become afraid that if that tingly feeling gets to your heart, you Might Die. (Wait. Is that the risk for snake bites? Or rabies infection? Or blood poisoning?) Then you just might wake your ER nurse husband out of his dead sleep to inform him of your fears.  This is a completely rational train of thought.  After all, he will probably need to administer the epinephrine.

But, if you wake him and say, “I think I’m going into anaphylactic shock,” he may very well respond by singing his “Hypo Hypo Hypo Hypochondriac, I’m married to a Hypo, Hypochondriac” song. Because although it may be the Worst Mosquito Bite of All Time, requiring no less than 3 applications of Benadryl cream to reduce the swelling and the tingling, you are, in fact, Not Dying. Unfortunately your husband will now know just how absurd you can be under the influence of Harm Avoidance. (But you can claim it was the 1am stupor talking.)

Not that I would know anything about that.


When It Rains Cats and Dogs

— by Elizabeth

It was my turn to lock the gate for the night. And because I picked that very moment to go, I have this story to tell:

I heard a loud noise overhead as I pulled the gate closed. It was an unfamiliar noise, so I thought to myself, “that must be gunfire.” (Here my inner paranoid reveals itself again. You too can discover your inner paranoid by moving to a different country. Then again, I possessed an inner paranoid in America, and you might too, so on second thought, an international move is not required.) No one else was running away or screaming, though, so I figured I was wrong about the gunfire.

I stood at the threshold looking nervously toward the noise. Suddenly two animals fell off my roof – a roof that’s 15 feet high and made of metal (perhaps explaining the gunfire-esque noises?).  These animals were locked in a fight. I’m afraid of wild animals – oh, let’s be honest, I’m pretty much afraid of all animals. So I did what any normal zoophobic would do: I hid inside my house.

A yellow cat flashed by. I waited a minute longer, just to be sure the other animal wasn’t going to come after me (again, PARANOID). I peeked around the corner of my door, and saw the neighbor’s dog, standing next to him, calm as can be. And all the neighbors were calm, too, as if nothing extraordinary had just happened. But I was like,A cat and a dog fell out of the sky. That’s not normal!

Sure, it feels like it rains cats and dogs during Cambodia’s rainy season, but it’s ordinary water. Two hydrogens and an oxygen, bonded together in a delightfully polar compound. It wasn’t rainy season anymore, but cat and dog rained down at my house that night.


How Not to be Kidnapped in the Global South

— by Elizabeth


1. Call your trustworthy tuk tuk driver when it’s time to run errands.

2. If he’s not available, accept the replacement he sends.

3. Bring your daughter along with you.

4. Begin to worry when he takes an unplanned detour into a gas station yet skips past the pumps. (Think: He didn’t mention anything about this. Remember you have your 4 year old with you. Is he meeting someone here to exchange drugs? Are you going to be kidnapped? Held at gunpoint? Robbed? Should you call your husband, so he knows exactly where and when you were last located?)

5. You notice he seems to be heading toward the compressed air.  That must be what he needs. No, he passes it, turns around, and gets back on the main street. Breathe.

6. Don’t freak out when he turns into another gas station, gets out, and walks away.

7. Do not panic when you start rolling backwards toward the busy street because he forgot to put on the brake. Look around calmly. Try to judge the point at which you and your daughter will need to jump out.

8. You can relax again when he turns back, apologizes, and uses the brake to prevent any further rolling.

9. Watch him go directly to the public bathroom and return 5 minutes later, presumably from Montezuma’s Revenge, Delhi Belly, or some other geographical intestinal affliction.

10. Continue with your planned errands and determine to put your paranoid tendencies to death.