Kevin Smith suffered what he called a "massive heart attack" over the weekend, prompting him to cancel a live show in Glendale, Calif., and check into a hospital, where he is recovering.
But initially, the New Jersey native just thought he was having a reaction to spoiled milk.
"I felt a little nauseous and then I tried to lay down on the floor," Smith, 47, said Tuesday in a video posted to Facebook from his bed at Glendale Adventist Hospital in California. "I wound up getting ill — like threw up, but mostly bile, so I just thought, like, you know, I got some bad milk."
However, Smith added, he soon began having trouble breathing, describing each breath as a "hurdle." At that point, Smith's camp called paramedics, who began calling for morphine shortly after their arrival.
The ordeal prompted Smith to begin thinking about his life, which he says has been an "incredible f— ride." Through the trauma, Smith says, he realized he is content.
"I just thought about everything and thought about, like, my parents and how they raised me, and my brother and my sister and my friends and my wife and my kid and this weird, wonderful career that I've had for so long," he said in the video. "And I was, like, content. Like, it was weird. I don't know how to say it. I didn't want to die, don't get me wrong, but I was like, 'If the ferryman comes tonight, I've got to pay him.' Like, what a ride it's been. What an incredible f— ride."
Doctors at Glendale Adventist found that Smith's left anterior descending (LAD) artery was 100 percent blocked, and told the Mallrats director that had he not canceled the show, he would have died. As Smith said in a previous video to fans, a blocked LAD artery is also commonly known as a "widowmaker."
To treat the blockage, doctors reached the artery through Smith's groin area, which the director said brought to mind two of his worst fears.
"My biggest fear in life: Death, number one," he said. "Number two: People seeing my d—. I've gone out of my way my whole life to not let my d— be f— seen. Never wanted to go to a hospital or a doctor for that very reason. Don't want to be judged. Obviously small."
Genital-related fears aside, the operation was a success. As Smith said, doctors inserted a stent and "bam, here I am."
"Dude literally saved my life," Smith added.
Smith attributes to cause of the heart attack to his family history; he lost his father to a heart attack in June 2003. He says lifestyle changes have caused him to drop up to 90 pounds since he was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight in 2010 over his weight, but "you just can't beat [it] because it's genetic."
With his heart back in working order, Smith said he now has a "zest for life," and thanked fans for their well-wishes.
"I am well. I'm sitting up and talking, I feel like I'm on a natural high," he said. "It was kind of like…reading your eulogy. I saw what life will be like if I die. What the reaction would be if I die, and it was very sweet."
In 2015, Smith was scheduled to shoot a project at a Philadelphia-area mall. Initially, he planned to film Clerks 3 in the area, but changed production to working on a Mallrats sequel, which then turned into a Mallrats TV series. The defunct Granite Run Mall was an early location choice, followed by Exton Square Mall. Then, in February last year, plans for both project were scrapped.