We tend to think of death as kind of a permanent thing. Even people who believe in reincarnation think of it as coming back to a different body and a different life. But sometimes, a person will fall so ill or be so gravely injured that they die - but only for a little while.
It's those cases, when death is less than permanent, that we are going to talk about today.
In October of 2018 my whole household got sick. We still don't know what caused it, but everyone came down with what one doctor eventually called "sudden group pneumonia. maybe."
My eldest child ended up in the hospital for a week with Kawasaki's, which up until that point I thought was a dirt bike or something. A few days after she came home my health took a sharp decline and I ended up losing my pregnancy.
It took a ridiculous amount of time to get the medical help I needed due to my state's abortion laws and federal abortion rules for medicaid (Did you know it still "counts" as an abortion if the child is already deceased?) A little over a week later I was finally able to get the procedures I needed.
They did not go well. Pneumonia and genetic disorders do not play well with anesthesia. I woke up a lot. And then I didn't.
From my perspective, it felt like a restless sleep, good sleep, struggling to wake up because good sleep was good and omg everyone shut up, and then having my eyes flutter open to see more people than usual (this was far from my first surgery) around me and they all had very straight, tense mouths.
I later found out one of the nurses yelled at my partner for not telling them I had pneumonia. He had told them. So had I. And it was in the chart.
I think the nurse was just stressed out by the experience (it had been a grueling and lasted about 20 hours at that point) and snapped at him. Nearly losing a patient who shouldn't have been in an emergency situation has got to be trying.
There had been chaos and tension trying to get me back, and I was obviously in the room for it, but experienced none of it. I just felt like a restless, tired body trying to get some damn sleep and these loud kids won't get off my lawn.
One Reddit user asked:
and yeah... other people were way less "get off my lawn" about almost dying.
For some it was a profound experience that changed them - and I mean really changed them, one person forgot how to speak languages they were fluent in before. For others it was nothing.
What do you hope your experience will be like?
Confidence Is KeyGiphy
I fell 3 stories back on the 80's. Broke my sternum, most of ribs on my right side, my right arm, femur where the hip joint is and fractured my pelvis in many places.
I was alert while the fire department cut the fence down so the ambulance could get me out of the courtyard I was in. Also most of the ambulance ride. I knew I was in deep sh~t when the paramedic told the driver that I was code____ unknown and to redirect to another hospital.
I remember the paramedic trying to keep her balance while she was pulling stuff out of the upper cabinets because the ambulance was swaying real hard now.
Everything became really peaceful. I was now observing everything from a different angle. As if I was above and to the right of myself.
I came too while a surgeon was sewing my left eyelid back on. As it was partially torn off when I hit something on the way down.
He asked me how I felt, and seemed very curious if I saw anything.
I died in the ambulance that day. Shock is hell of a thing.
It changed my life in so many ways. I became much more happy.. I don't sweat the small stuff as much. It also somehow made me more confident.
A Soundproof Room
So let me preface this by saying I'm immuno compromised and that's why things went bad fast.
A few years ago I got an abscess in my lower back and about 4 hours after I started showing symptoms (fever, site inflammation, pain, etc.) I started going septic while waiting in the ER. Just started REALLY feeling like sh!t.
After being admitted and already started on some hardcore broad spectrum antibiotics, I just wasn't getting better. In fact I was getting worse, and I felt awful and it hurt so badly, but nothing showing up on CAT, MRI, or X-Ray to suggest an abscess. So they thought it was a skin infection.
About 3 days in, packed with ice bags, my temp was 104.7 and my organs were starting to shut down. It was weird because I went from feeling the most miserable I've ever felt, to peace, calm, pain free, and quiet. I couldn't hear anything. Like I had just been put in a soundproof room.
I could still see my wife, my Mom, and siblings and they started panicking. (I didn't know at the time but my heart was going into a weird rhythm or something along those lines) I just closed my eyes like I was just gonna take a nap.
Remember just feeling like "I've had a good life" and only being sad I was leaving my wife behind because we had only been married 3 years at this point.
Remember seeing almost like a foggy haze, like you see in movies where they're by the docks early morning.
Remember being told "Not yet." by a figure in the fog.
Woke up a couple hours later and apparently they got me back and also gave me emergency surgery as the surgeon had a hunch where the abscess was even though charts didn't show anything. Spent an entire month in the hospital recovering. Bandage changes were a bitch because it was so deep.
Thanks to that surgeon and rest of the staff I'm still here today!
Cease To Be
I woke up during surgery once and drowned in my own blood, I was clinically dead for about 3 minutes. I didn't see/hear anything. When I woke up I was totally unaware that anything had happened.
To me, everything had gone as planned and I had just woke up as planned. If it wasn't for the extra nurses/doctors around me, I'd have never known anything had gone wrong.
This is why I don't believe in heaven or hell. When we die, we simply cease to be.
When I was really young I went to a church party at a pastors house and went off the diving board to look cool in front of big kids.
Well, I couldn't swim so I immediately sank. I kept breathing in water every time I surfaced, then I remember feeling really tired and really calm. I looked towards the surface and saw it get further and further away everything grew dark.
Weird to say, but it was blissful. I felt nothing then remember hacking my lungs out, and nothing in between. Kid saw me and rushed over.
I don't remember being pulled out or the mouth to mouth, all I remember is coughing violently.
I have drowned as well, and it was an incredible sense of euphoria and peace and acceptance. I think back to that moment often. There was no fear, no pain, no anxiety, just the warm hug of the water.
An Insufferable Bible BasherGiphy
When I was 7, I choked on a hot dog at a backyard BBQ. Because I was quietly sitting by myself in a corner, reading, nobody noticed me until I was already on the ground and blue.
My uncle pretty much shoved his whole hand down my throat to get the food out, then did mouth to mouth and cpr for 2 minutes until I was conscious. I slipped in and out if consciousness for the whole ambulance ride to the hospital, and I remember feeling like the oxygen mask was choking me, and fighting the EMTs who strapped me to the board. I spent the night in the hospital, with a concussion.
My grandmother fainted and hit her head when she thought I was gone, and they let us stay in a room together. She taught me how to play Gin that night.
Anyway, my strongest memory is feeling the world slip away from me. I was frozen, I knew that I was going to die and I was too scared to move. My whole family was on the other side of the yard, and it felt like I was being pulled away from them into nothingness.
I don't remember any bright lights or anything like that, what I remember most is a sudden burst of noise. It was total silence and then sudden screaming and crying. I think that was the scariest thing of all, to wake up to the sound of both of my parents and even my super stoic grandfather just wailing.
I was very religious as a kid, and I think it pushed me over into a zealotry that lasted pretty much until puberty, when I decided that I liked boys more than Jesus. I was afraid that if I so much as told a fib, I would die and not get to spend eternity in paradise with my family (we were Jehovah's Witnesses).
And I was all up in everyone else's business, too, because I wanted to be sure we were all free of sin so we could be together if one of us suddenly dropped dead or if Armageddon came. I'm atheist now, so obviously it didn't stick, but I was an insufferable Bible basher for my entire childhood, basically, as a direct result of a stupid piece of hot dog.
It Was Nothing
It was nothing. I overdosed. All I remember is right before and then waking up in the ambulance. It was just like sleeping.
Same. I've overdosed and it's exactly like falling asleep. You don't remember the exact moment you fall into sleep, you sort of just drift into the darkness. Kinda the best way to go In my opinion... until they hit you with the narcan and you freeze to death.
I died on the operating table. I was awake (emergency C-section) an artery was severed, I bled out. I knew instinctively I was dying. I heard myself flat line. There was this strange sensation like a suction pulling me out of myself, I saw my body, lifeless, masked doctors and nurses rushing about and then there was darkness.
I was aware that I was no longer an individual, but part of something so much bigger, there was no fear or pain, I was at peace. I knew as if being told, but not in words, almost a collective knowledge, that I had a choice to remain in that peace or to go back into my body.
As soon as I thought of my children, I was pushed violently back into my body, it seemed smaller than before, all the fear and pain rushed back.
I am very different.
I have lost so much language. I can only speak English now, before I died I spoke German, Latin, and French in addition to my native tongue.
I had a photographic memory, also lost.
I also spent over a year in physical therapy. My body and brain have never fully recovered and it's been over 2 decades since my experience.
For a long time I thought my condition was punishment for rejecting Heaven. I have suffered chronic illness, autoimmune disorder, crushing depression, but I am still here.
There is more to this existence than I can understand. Love with your soul, in the grand scheme of things love is the only thing that matters,. Love is stronger than death. Love is the reason I came back. I am kinder now more patient.
What I lost was so little compared to what I have gained. It took death to teach me how to live.
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