Friday, July 6, 2012

Fes Episode

Two days ago, after a tiring but exhilarating day in the medina at Fes, we decided to go to a music and dance show. Just before leaving, I casually popped in a Brufen tablet to ease the pain in my legs. Either before or after that, I took a single small sip from Swati's glass of white wine.

We reached the venue at 8:30 pm. As soon as I entered the room, I began feeling a little hot. As we sat down at our table, my heart started racing and I started to feel stuffy and uncomfortable. Not sure of what was happening, I decided to walk out into the open to get some air. Near the door, our kind gentle driver Hamid saw me and said something. I walked out hoping I would feel better but knew something was seriously wrong. My legs were shaky and my head was woozy. I sat down and asked Hamid, who had followed me outside, to give me his phone number in case I needed to contact him in an emergency. As I started punching his number on to my phone, I realized I couldn't press the right numbers. I was losing consciousness and I remember saying to myself "This is not happening to me. This is happening to someone else, someone who doesn't have kids who depend on her". Hamid took the phone from me and said he would enter the number for me.

The next thing I felt was the sensation of cold water on my head. Someone was pouring cold water on my head and Julie was showing me her hand and asking me how many fingers. Then she demanded that I count backwards. I don't know if I complied. All I remember is this crushing lack of breath, like no asthma attack I have ever experienced. My eyes felt as if someone was pulling them inside and my sinuses and throat seemed stuffy and blocked. Swati was craddling my head and asking me to stay awake. I croaked in my hoarse voice that I needed a doctor because I couldn't breathe.

When it was discovered that the ambulance would take at least half an hour to reach, my friends decided that they will take me to a hospital themselves, even if it meant they would have to carry me to the car which was 50 feet or so away at the end of the narrow alley. Luckily, I was able to walk hanging onto Julie and Rachel's shoulders. The ride to the hospital seemed like forever. I was hardly getting any air in and my back muscles were cramping. Swati kept talking to me positively as she held me in her arms throughout. I had a sense of impending doom and kept shifting to get some air in.

At the hospital, I was rushed into the emergency room on a wheelchair and my vital signs checked. I remember that my blood oxygen was down to 88, which Swati tried to pass off as normal (just to calm me down) but I know too much about these things. After an exchange in Arabic/French between Hamid, the nurse and the doctor, cortisone was injected and then I was nebulized for about an hour. I was able to breath comfortably by 10 pm and lo and behold, discharged!

(As soon as it was clear that I was out of danger, the four friends posed for a photo next to the bed I was lying on. Here it is...Crazy bunch!)

I learned later that I had been unconscious for over five minutes during which time Julie had tried slapping me and Swati had poured 3 bottles of cold water over my head. Medically speaking, I had suffered an anaphylactic shock due to allergy to something. I believe that it was the combination of Brufen and that one sip of wine, but really there is no way of knowing for sure. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and my airways were blocked by edema, resulting in low oxygen and therefore unconsciousness. In short, I had almost died. Read more here:

Thanks to my friends, and Hamid and the staff at the ER, I am up and about and writing about this harrowing experience. I hope that writing about it will make me less anxious because honestly speaking, I am terrified that this episode will recur. But most of all, I am happy and grateful to be alive and experiencing all that life has to offer, which is indeed a lot. 


  1. You gave a fright. But I am glad you are ok. Stay well, my friend. I send you hugs from Delhi.


    1. Thanks Gautami. Glad to be well. Had a great time in Morocco despite it.

  2. Remember Puja Analgesics and any fizzy drinks should be avoided as they cause ulceration of G Intestinal tract mucosa.Please don't worry about the episode repeating itself. You have to be careful. Please Drink lot of water. Love you very much. So keep alive ,not just for your kids but your mother who loves you immensely. Who will write such beautiful blogs my Puja? The first line warns you about coke etc. I know u will stay away from Wine. Many times one avoids water thinking it safe to gulp a dispirin with coke or fanta or limca. I know Coke and dispirin caused a very serious collapse of a gentleman at a wedding.

  3. Ah, how may lives do cats have?

    Take g a moment to say thanks for the new lease on life and ensure you enjoy it a lot more.

    Nam yo to renge kyo.