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    Editor's Note:
    The Jeff in "Jeff's Story" is one of WebMD's most trusted medical reporters; he is also the survivor of a life-threatening medical condition. Jeff Levine shares his amazing story, from the shocking diagnosis to an emotional recovery, in a special four-part series.

    Day One: The Awakening [Part 1]

    "O, I have pass'd a miserable night, So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams."

    -- William Shakespeare, Richard III

    It was a real-life medical nightmare. The wrong decision could cost me my life.

    EVEN THOUGH I went to sleep in my own bed, I didn't awaken there. Instead, I found myself inside a tube with only a tiny window to the outside world. "Don't move," ordered a strange voice, so I tried to steady myself inside the machine that made a rather primitive-sounding racket belying its obviously high-tech nature.

    So let's go back. On Nov. 1, 2000, I was an apparently healthy 55-year-old man who had worked as a professional journalist for most of his adult life. Much of that time was spent as a medical reporter, supposedly learning things about medicine and healthcare that most people don't know.

    When I went to sleep that night, free of any symptoms, something totally unexpected happened inside my brain that caused me to lose consciousness. It turned out to be a violent seizure.

    It was not a dream. It was a real-life medical nightmare, so shocking that it was to force my family and me to face drastic choices in the coming month. As we soon realized, the wrong decision could cost me my life.