Nothing. Sorry. But I changed. I rejected the religion of my parents years before. I wasn’t an atheist because life had to begin somewhere, and there were questions that couldn’t be answered. After the accident I had no memories of being pulled into tunnels, or being greeted by previously passed persons. However I no longer feared death. I KNEW there was something more. This was the beginning of my spiritual quest. Dying made me a seeker. It might have even softened my edges. Different story for another time.
- Car accident. As the story goes, I was unable to breathe due to a blocked passage (my kryptonite is vomit so I dance around visuals). There was a guy with a red beard standing nearby praying. I have a visual in my head that he’s standing there reading out of a bible, but I have no real memory of the accident. Next a nurse appears from somewhere and clears my airway with a pen somehow. This is the myth. The other person there won’t/can’t talk about it. He sued me & would later be my best man. I’m left paralyzed from the chest down but that’s not very important till you get to #7 below.
- During a major surgery in 1995 (Bladder replacement; known as The Indiana Procedure) my family was told that “they lost me” for a while, but revived me easily, and the surgery was a success.
- October 2006 I had been severely ill for a few weeks. I was unable to eat much of anything other than ginger ale and ginger Altoids. I was tanking and I knew it. I had changed my ringtone to “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” 911 called. I was feeling better during the ambulance ride and wondering whether calling 911 was unwarranted. I was reviewing my current symptoms and medical history with an intake nurse. He was trying to get me moved to a critical area, but kept getting “no” as an answer. My vitals worsened and still he advocated to no avail. Cardiac Arrest… as they finally wheeled me to the critical area, I managed to thank my nurse for trying tell him that no matter what happened, it wasn’t his fault.
- When I was revived, it was like I was simply being woken up. Now, in the critical area, they began asking me all the questions that I had just answered. No one thought it was a good idea to go grab the nurse that had all the information. Instead they tried to extract it from the newly revived dead guy. It was all very hectic, as my vitals were not bouncing back, and there seemed a great deal of urgency to get all of my nearly 25 years worth of medical history conveyed in 30 seconds. I began attempting to meditate at this point, as it was becoming difficult to breathe. 20-some years of meditation was helpful in remaining calm, as this frenzy was playing out around me. With a weird detachment I monitored my breathing, and was in the process of suggesting they might get this info from my first nurse, when I rudely interrupted myself with my second Cardiac Arrest.
- The medical records showed that I was given an epinephrine (epi) shot to bring me around again. Again it was just like I had dozed off. Only I couldn’t breathe very well. I immediately went to my zen breathing, while trying to tell them to stop fucking asking ME questions and go get my first fucking nurse, right fucking now. Apparently now that I had died on them twice, they were even more desperate for me to convey all the information that my first nurse (30 feet away) had. My heart was not operating well enough to pump my lungs so they were filling with fluid. So… this time I died of a Pulmonary Arrest. When they brought me back they started with the questions again. Fascinating right? They were trying to move an x-ray machine to get a picture of my lungs when I realized I was about to drown again, and said “intubate me.” One nurse wanted to wait and get the x-ray of my lungs. Thankfully the other pushed him out of the way, and told him that if a patient actually requests intubation, you just do it. Because no one, I repeat, no one, requests intubation.
- When next I awoke I was in the ICU, and pleased to find I was not on a ventilator. Apparently I went ahead and died once more, (at this point I’m just running the number up to compete with cats right?) but they caught it early with the monitors and everything, and just shot the epi into my IV. I had evidently gained a reputation for dying when people asked me medical questions, so that had ceased. They were debating whether I was septic (full body infection was how the described it) or had pneumonia, or both. Or maybe something else completely. They were going to get me stabilized and then remove my medications so they could get a baseline and figure out what was going on with me. Which leads to:
- I saved the best for last. (at the time of this writing. There will be at least one more – I realize this) They decide I’m stable enough to be moved to “the floor.” In the ICU the nurse:patient ratio is 1:1 or 1:2. In contrast, the floor has a ratio of 1:4, 1:5 or 1:6 depending upon the severity of the cases. I like to think of the ICU as this very lush oasis, where all the people and resources are all in the same place. The floor is more like a desert. That night I’m not feeling great, but I send my family home. They’re exhausted from running back and forth. All of them offer, and the girlfriend pretty much insists that someone will stay. Nah, what could go wrong? At 4 in the morning I push my nurses button, and inform the friendly voice that I don’t feel well, and maybe someone should get in here right away. After about 10 minutes the nurse arrives, and I tell her that I feel like I did in the emergency room before I “tanked.” I didn’t go over the whole “died 4 times in the last few days” thing because she had to know that right? She checked the line they had inserted into my arm to make sure that my IV was okay, checked my vitals, and told me to “hang in there,” because the docs should be arriving to do their rounds in about an hour. I’m an awesome advocate for myself. I take shit from no one, and generally can get my needs met one way or another. But I had no solid argument other than feeling “uh oh.” So she left.