The Time I Did Not Wake Up
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Health and Wellness

The Time I Did Not Wake Up

Hanging on to our life by a thread, we somehow find the strength to let go; or find the will to wake up

The Time I Did Not Wake Up

I feel as though some point in life, everyone wonders at least once what it is like to die. At 19 years old, I experienced a near death experience. It was peaceful. I was in a sleep like no other, a sleep where there was no pain, no worries, and no heartache. I was completely free of my chronic illness and suffering. Sometimes, I feel people die and it is an absolute tragedy because it wasn’t their time. I don’t understand why these horrible things happen to good people, that shouldn’t be dying so young. Other times, I believe we have the will and power to fight, hanging on to our life by a thread, we somehow find the strength to decide whether we want to let go or whether we want to wake up. That place is not an easy place to be in, it’s a lot less peaceful. You feel trapped. You feel like everyone is depending on you to wake up and you need to fight, and your heartbreaks trying to figure out how to pull through while you lay there nearly dead. But if you find the Will to wake up…that is when your life becomes a miracle.

Fall of 2014 was an odd time for me. I fell asleep everywhere and nobody understood why. I couldn’t wake up for alarms, I would sleep through fire drills, I would fall asleep in class, at a museum on the floor, on the train and even mid conversation with my doctor. I didn’t want to be asleep, I simply could not stay awake and I did not know why. I felt as though I had taken all the Benadryl in the world or had never gotten a day of sleep in my life. This went on for weeks, and then months.

Are you on drugs Tori? What is wrong with you, you can’t even keep your eyes open for a conversation; and your not even making sense! My parents would say. I would cry. Of course I was not on drugs, I was just as confused as they were. I had no idea why my body was failing me and why I constantly found myself passed out in a dead sleep at any hour of the day. My professors were concerned, I was sleeping through and missing class; nobody understood what was wrong with me... Until I didn’t wake up.

November 4th I woke up with the worst sore throat of my life and a raging fever. I never experienced a fever so high, I couldn’t even think. My mom called my grandparents who got me from my college dorm and had them take me to the doctors. The doctors assured me that it was just a virus and that I needed to take the rest of the day off from class, take Tylenol and sleep. With that, I called my mom who told me to set an alarm for 5 p.m. at which point I would call her. I took my Tylenol, got into my bed in my college dorm room and fell vastly into my deep sleep although this time was different. My body was shutting down, and I was not waking up.

At first I felt like I was a drugged animal trapped in a cage. I remember hearing the vague sound of my alarm going off but I couldn’t process why and I couldn’t convince myself to wake up. I remember sleep talking to my mother on the phone and not being able to speak words. All my body could do was sleep, but my mind was trapped and I couldn’t wake up. I remember my roommates checking on me, probably concerned because I had been asleep for hours, and then all day. I remember squinting my eyes half asleep at their faces and not processing them as people. I was one hundred percent hallucinating and half asleep with a raging fever, trapped in my cage. A cage in which waking up was not an option, and neither was fighting for my life. Then, I remembered nothing.

She rushed into the city like she never had before. Mother’s intuition was kicking in big time, and my Mom knew something was extremely wrong. By the time she had arrived my roommates had already called an ambulance. Boston PD, School Police, EMT’s they were all there and I didn’t know it. I was taken out of my dorm room unresponsive while an infection spread poisonously throughout my body. Rushed to the hospital, I was stripped of my clothing, hooked up to machines, blood was drawn, IV’s were placed, an MRI was done, a spinal tap was performed; but none of it made me wake up.

My Mom waited alone trying to process what was happening. I wish I could have woken up, and held her frightened hand; because I could only imagine the pain and fear she felt when the doctors asked her “Mrs. Ashdown you need to sit down we have a couple questions. What is your religious preference? Where is the rest of Tori’s family? You need to call them, we are doing everything she can but she is not waking up”. I can only imagine the crippling heartbreak and immense fear she felt but there was nothing I could do. I was trapped. Hours went by of being trapped and unconscious to a throat abscess that had now caused sepsis shock in my body, and there was very little chance of me waking up.

My Sister jumped out of my Father’s car before it even stopped moving, nearly falling onto the cold pavement of the hospitals lot. She ran into the hospital straight passed information and found her way to the intensive care unit where she ran straight past the security guards. There was no stopping her. She wanted to know immediately where my doctor was and who was my nurse. The little bit of nursing school she had completed was kicking in, and she wanted to know everything the doctors had done and plan to try. She needed to be strong for her mother and father, and she needed to be strong for me; her little sister. I was losing my life the more the infection spread.

Bags of antibiotics and fluids rushed through my blood. Grandparents came, my aunts and uncles, they all got their chance to see me, to hold my hand, and talk to me; but I don’t remember seeing them or hearing their voices. I can just picture myself in that hospital bed, watching this all happen, begging myself to please wake up and falling to my knees crying each time my body was incapable. It was my worst nightmare. I was going to be that girl that died at 19 years old. I couldn’t do that to my family, I couldn’t leave them, I couldn’t do that to myself or my friends, I needed to wake up.

My mom was wide eyed, and dazed almost in a state of shock next to my frightened and silent father both surrounding my hospital bed; but my sister was adamant to stay awake until she knew I was okay. After maybe nine hours of remembering nothing, I started to feel like I was back in my cage. A cage in which I was still trapped in, in a deep sleep. Some of my senses were back. I could feel the love and warmth around me but I couldn’t get myself to wake up for the life of me. That is when I heard her voice. An angel? Please don’t let me go to heaven. I am too young to die. My heart began to break, as I lay unconscious, dying in my cage. It was then I realized, it was not an angel I was hearing, it was better; It was my Sister.

For some reason, I began to think of the happy times with my sister. Goofing around, our Christmas Eve sleepovers, our silly jokes, but most of all I thought about singing and listening to country music together. Especially Kenney Chesney’s song, American Kids. That was our song and no matter where we were, together or 100 miles apart, that was the song that brought us together.

When I first was able to move my body I could feel her warmth, recognizable from the handful of times I slept curled up next to her from the time I was a little girl. When I was able to put sounds together it was her voice I heard, and it wasn’t her normal voice. Britt why are you singing to me? Its not like you have the best singing voice, I laughed to myself. That is when everything made sense. My sister, Brittany; was indeed singing to me. She was singing American Kids. That is when I found the will to wake up. I flicked my eyes open for the first time in 12 hours to see her beautiful face looking into my brown eyes. She began to cry tears of Joy and yelled for my Mom, who was also hovering over my hospital bed tears coming down her face, eyes wide with joyful shock. “Hi” I said calmly.

In came the doctors. Who are you? What is your name? Do you know where you are? Who are they? They said pointed to my mom and sister. I somehow knew everything. I woke up, and it was a miracle.

Everyone wonders what it is like to have an out of body experience, and until this day I still try to piece mine together. I don’t know why I woke up, I wasn’t supposed to nor was I predicted to, but I know for a fact I was on the brink of dying and I woke up because of my sisters voice. I woke up because I knew she was trying to tell me, Tori cut it out. Mom and Dad need you, We all need you please wake up. And I know for a matter of fact her relentless silly singing was what woke me up, because nothing else was working. It was her voice, and hers only that I would respond to.

Thank you to my mother, who listened to her intuition and drove into Boston like her little girls life depended on it; because it did. Thank you to my Father, for putting your game face on like you always taught me and for keeping Mom strong. Dad, I know you are a man of few words when it comes to talking about your emotions, but I still remember your heart felt Facebook post a couple days after I woke up, expressing mothers intuition and a call you never want to receive, your love for our family and that you had never been happier to see your daughters eyes open. Thank you to my extended family for coming to see me in the middle of the night to give me all your love and energy. Most of all, thank you to my sister, Brittany. I know the nurses noticed I responded to you, thank you for giving me every breath you had for hours on end until I woke up. If it wasn’t for you singing American Kids one thousand times I am not too sure I would be here. I love you all so much, and I am so glad I can be here with you today to say I am so sorry for putting you through such a tragic experience, but most of all to live the life together that we all deserve. Thank you for never giving up on me. I will never give up on you either.

Much Love,

Tori Ashdown

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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