June 21, 2011 was a great day for an open-water swim. Summer solstice. One of those early days of a Pacific Northwest summer where a cloudless sky and the warmth of the sun were still a surprise. I had done three sprint-distance triathlons, and I was ready to train for an Olympic distance, graduating from a half-mile swim to a mile. My friend and I met, donned our wetsuits, and got started. Soon in to the swim, I felt my lungs tighten.


Not long after, I called out. “I’m having trouble breathing. I need to get to shore.” My friend, who is precisely the type of person you want next to you in a crisis, stayed close enough to encourage, but far enough away to keep from being dragged under. Once on the dock, I could not get enough air. Gasping, I leaned back. “Relax”, I told myself. “You have to relax.” So, I did. And found myself looking down at the scene from above. I knew I had a choice. Keep relaxing, and just go away. Or, get down there and fight. So, fight, I did.

After that, things moved fast. From the paramedics that were located in a firehouse just two minutes away to the nearby police boat that transported me, I made it across the lake quickly. The last thing I remember, I was being loaded on to an ambulance. “We’re going to give you something to relax”, they said. Then, darkness …

Voices. My sister’s voice. The beeps and whir of machines. I could not move. Couldn’t lift a finger, open my eyes, or turn my head. But I could hear. “Deb, can you hear me?! Deb?” I raised an eyebrow. Fractional movement, but enough for her to notice. My sister, insistently, “She can hear me! I know she can!” “It’s just reflexive”, the nurse said. “No”, said Amy. “She is here.”

And I was.

On life support, with a balloon pump inside my heart, but I was here. As I continued to stabilize, they began to wean me from the paralytic drug that dripped in to my veins to keep me still. Soon, I could move my finger; and then my hand. I signaled for a pen.


fine yesterday wtf … At that moment, my family knew I was going to be okay. Since that day, I’ve healed. Changed jobs, traveled … bought a home. Celebrated life with my beloved family. I may be healthy for many, many years. Or, I may not. But I am not going to waste my second chance. This is a collection of stories that explores the gift I was given.

I’m still here.

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8 thoughts on “About”

  1. WOW!! What a amazing story! Thats SOO AWESOME you are able to embrace your experience, turn it into a positive and get a 2nd chance to do it!
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. I had NO idea that you went through such a harrowing event! You are an incredible inspiration; I live my life vicariously through your World travels! You are a gifted writer and should think about writing a book? Love ya Deb!

  3. Even though I had heard the story, it is an entirely different experience to read it. Thankful that we reconnected at our reunion and will never forget peaking in the conference room to see your radiant smile at Nintendo orientation 🙂 you an inspiration to so many and bring such you to all of us with your gifted writing! Thank you!

  4. You have an uncanny ability to take a reader in so much so that it’s as if we are watching a movie or a play. Your description of the scenery is incredible, and yet not too much. You are also skilled at describing feelings. And just as easily you can bring tears to my eyes, you can evoke roaring laughter. I’ve loved reading your stories…from early on when you described an experience of returning a pair of shoes (to Nordstrom, was it?) to today’s story. Can’t wait to read more for many years to come. Xoxo

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