Monday, May 25, 2009

My Toast

Whenever I am with my friends or Lithus or anywhere else for that matter and someone raises a glass for a toast, I make the toast and then quietly, subtly lift my glass skyward. Just a little. It's easy to miss if you don't know I do it or aren't looking for it. But I do it. Every. Single. Time.

There was a time when I insisted on the first toast of every evening include my toast. I've loosened up on that requirement as it got time consuming to explain, remind, butt in. Still, the first toast of the evening, I raise my own glass and think "to Gino and Cleve and Gary and Greg."

Eleven years ago today, I nearly died. I don't mean that in an oooh that was close kind of way. I'm not being melodramatic or overreactive. Memorial Day of 1998, I went into anaphylactic shock at the Marriott at DisneyWorld. The SGM and I closed ourselves away from My then 5 year old Heart so he wouldn't be scared of me I was so swollen and unrecognizable. While I could still talk, I was wandering around saying "I am not an animal." Then it stopped being funny. I don't remember much of it. The last thing I remember clearly is looking at the SGM and saying "don't let me go."

The hotel sent two men from their Loss Prevention department. Gino and Cleve. Eugenio Francisco and Cleveland...Lyndon? Little (although I think that's probably running together with Clevon Little in my head). L-something though. (Addendum ~ Lyndsey. His name is Cleveland Lyndsey) They held my hand. They talked to me. They got the EMTs there. Gary and Greg. Orlando sent two response teams and these guys were the leaders of each. They could barely get a pulse. They couldn't get a response. They couldn't get a blood pressure. I was dying.

All the while, my family is out in the other room of the suite, praying. The SGM is with me, talking to me, not letting me go. And Gino and Cleve and Gary and Greg are doing ~ whatever they were doing that was keeping me alive.

Then the epinephrine kicked in. It didn't send me into cardiac arrest as I was told later they were concerned it might. I started being able to breathe on my own. This is when I start having vague images and memories again.

There was one more moment in the ambulance. Gary explained he was going to give me a shot of benedryl and to let him know if I had an adverse reaction. I assured him I could handle benedryl. I turned and said "See, I'm feeling just..." and I gasped for air. You know in movies when a character suddenly arches her back and gasps, eyes wide, completely out of control of her body and breathing? I know how that feels for real. He cranked the oxygen up and pounded on the ambulance saying "don't dawdle." The lights and sirens went on.

I don't know why it was important to me to know their names. I know it was. I asked all four of them, over and over again until I remembered them. Gino and Cleve and Gary and Greg.

For years after, I sent flowers to the hotel for Gino and Cleve on Memorial Day. Then one year, they weren't working there any longer. But I still remember. And every single night a toast is made, I lift my glass to the four of them.

If anyone happens to know these guys, Gino and Cleve who were on duty with Loss Prevention at the Marriott or Gary and Greg, who led two of Orlando's EMT response teams, on Memorial Day 1998, tell 'em I still remember. And thanks.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee ~ and eleven more years to toast the men who saved your life.


Dennis R. Upkins said...

*Jaw drops*

Holy cripes. What a powerful story.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

I couldn't imagine life without you. I don't know how I've lasted this long before ever meeting you.

*raises glass for you.*

Krystal said...

Wow...I have tears in my eyes.


Lori Stewart Weidert said...

Me too, I'm all teared up. Here's to Gino and Cleve and Gary and Greg.

CrackerLilo said...

Oh, Gods, too damn close! Thank you, Gino and Cleve and Gary and Greg!


BostonPobble said...

Dennis R ~ Right back atcha.

Krystal ~ Cheers, indeed.

GNG ~ It was weird writing it and reliving it like that again.

Cracker Lilo ~ {{{hugs}}} to you, too!

kimber said...

I'm glad to have you here, and I'm glad to have gotten to know you, so I'll give my wee little thanks to Gino & Cleve & Gary & Grey, too. :)

Rose said...

I'm so glad that Gino, Cleve, Gary and Grey were there. Very emotional story!

2 Dollar Productions said...

Wow. Powerful stuff. Wonder what sent you into anaphylactic shock as it is scary as my wife went into it once (ant bite, severly allergic) and had to be rushed to hospital and given adrenaline. Scary stuff indeed, and a fitting toast every single time.

Gay Soldier's Husband said...

Thank the goddess for Gino and Cleve and Gary and Greg, without whom we most likely would have lost our beloved Pobble.

And a heartfelt thanks to all the emergency workers and first responders who have saved the asses of so many of our loved ones over the years.

I'll drink to that.

BostonPobble said...

Kimber ~ Ditto to you, my 2nd favorite Canadian.

Rose ~ It was emotional to write as well, which I found interesting and unexpected.

$$ ~ We actually believe it was a combination of ant venom (I'm allergic as well and had been nibbled on at the pool) and toasted coconut (but at least the pina colada at the pool while I was being nibbled was really good) but we're not 100% sure so I avoid those two things just in case.

DGSH ~ I have a soft spot for all first responders, too. How can you not love the people who deal with the situations most of us run from? *clink*