Monday, September 17, 2012

Hospital Flowers

I've been meaning to share my thoughts on a subject that happened several months ago but it's taken me a while to fully digest its purpose.

On Monday May 28, 2012, I almost lost my life.

But as I saw my life fading fast I was able to find something else: happiness.

Happiness returned to me through a grave emergency.

It was in London, a completely foreign country, my study abroad group suited up for a business visit to the Conoco-Phillips branch by Oxford Street, our very first business to visit on our crazy adventure around the world. What seemed to be the safest, nicest places we had stopped by in a city with over eight million people, quickly became a snare trap to my physical breakdown.
The manager who invited us to Conoco-Phillips in London so generously offered our whole group the delicacies of England: fish and chips, of every form and kind.

A disclaimer you should know, I'm extremely allergic to shellfish. Crab, shrimp, lobster, you bet.

With this table of delectable treats I cautiously chose what appeared to be salmon or regular fish, but once I took a bite into a breaded cake-thing I saw the pink and white meat gleam inside. Yep, crab, you lost the guessing game Hillary.

I spat it out immediately and told myself to breathe, because half of an allergic reaction was psychological, so perhaps I could mentally overcome it. But as soon as I started to tell myself I was fine and not having any allergic reaction, I looked down and my arms turned white and red and began shaking.

Things began to go dark very quickly and I my body started to shut down. My professor came over in time, asked how I was doing, and I barely could breathe a plea for help. He handed me benadryl as well as water and I stepped out into the hallway to begin flushing the crab out of my system.

Five minutes passed. I looked down and saw my whole arm shaking. Everything was spinning or turning black. Ten minutes. Still shaking, my lungs were closing up and I found myself breathing harder and harder for air and my skin was tingling all over. My friends, noticing dark circles around my eyes, came up to ask how I was doing and I could barely afford enough oxygen to respond. Fifteen minutes. When was this medicine going to kick in?

This moment I realized how easy it could be to die now. I began contemplating about how fragile life is, how luck I was for modern medicine. How precious good health and happiness are, how appreciating every moment of living is so important because I don't know when it will be gone, both the good and the bad.

The whole prior year I spent so much time moping over a culmination of things that hadn't worked out for me, letting all the disappointments and failures consume all my concentration and energy.

How silly of me to make myself so miserable by focusing on all the negative before this moment, by choosing to only see all the bad.  In reality I had a wonderful life I was taking for granted!

That moment I knew all I wanted more than anything was to live. I wanted life. Not anybody else's life either, I wanted my life.

Twenty minutes. The shaking was a little less, I could feel oxygen coming into my lungs again. Hearing the cacophonous sirens of the ambulance fly by on the street, my professor asked if I needed to visit the ER. With a bigger fear of foreign hospitals at this point, I knew I was going to be fine now and shook my head no.

Thirty minutes. My body was working now, just exhausted from the anxiety and the medication. I was so grateful for the three who stood by my side as I got my health back. How grateful I was to be alive and able to enjoy our journey again.

It was completely curious to me that this happened when I am on the other side of the world. This was no coincidence. I realized how hard Satan was working to have us not make it through our trip and how much of a purpose God had for every single one of us.

More importantly, God still has a purpose for me, because that moment wasn't my time to go.  It was (and is) time for me to stop dwelling on the bad things that happened in the past, to look forward to the future, and more importantly, to be happy again.

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