It was New Year's Eve 2002 (and I was completely content) and we suddenly received a call from the wife of one of my closest friends. Don had been rushed to Florida Hospital and had been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. He was only thirty-nine years of age. My closest aunt (Connie) had passed away from a brain aneurysm at thirty-nine years of age in the 1960s. They scheduled him for emergency surgery and operated on New Year's Day. Don was built like a gladiator and was in great shape; I was speechless. I said a prayer, my wife gave me her scapular and I proceeded to Florida Hospital (it was pouring rain). The nurses allowed me access to Don; I prayed and left the scapular with him (I had never prayed so deeply). He underwent surgery and was induced into a coma to enhance the probability of recovering.
Less than one week later, on January 6, 2003. I was to end up in the room next to Don. The majority of the details, which follow, are not of my memory, but of my wife and family's remembrance. I had spent the day at Daytona State College (DSC). It was a pre-term planning/workday. I had taken our middle daughter along for the day. As I was driving home from Daytona that afternoon, I called my wife to tell her I was really tired and not to work too late. By the time my wife arrived home, I had cooked some spaghetti and was very tired. I had told my wife I did not feel very good and was going to lie down for a while. During the next two hours, I spent my time between the bed and the bathroom. My wife thought I was experiencing the stomach flu (our oldest daughter had just recently been afflicted with it). At one point, my wife went to make me some tea and dry toast, to settle my stomach. However, upon her return with the tea and toast, I was not to be found - until she discovered me on the floor of our bathroom, aspirating and in seizure.
Immediately, my wife called her parents and 911. The squad quickly rushed me to the emergency room at Florida Hospital (Altamonte). The staff at Altamonte determined that they were not equipped to handle a situation such as mine. I was diagnosed 'brain-dead' as the result of a hemorrhage of the right ventricle and was on full life support. Within just a few hours, I had been transferred to Florida Hospital South (by the Orlando Science Center).
At this point, it was no mere 'coincidence' that another Divine Intervention was at work. Dr. Christopher Baker was on call that night (I thank God for this). His neuro-nurse Marsha was on the floor, as was Darlene, an amazingly talented neuro-nurse. They had to relieve the pressure in my cranium and when they drilled a very small hole (yes, I had a hole in my head) they said that they had never seen so much blood come out of someone's head. Here I was in a natural coma, being placed in the room immediately beside my friend Don (who was in a drug induced coma) in the Neuro-Critical Care Ward (Fifth Floor) of Florida Hospital South, Orlando. By Tuesday afternoon, I had been administered the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (Last Rites) by Father David (who I have, on a few subsequent occasions, 'coincidently', referred to him as Father Christi). Christi is Latin for Christ and when Father administered this sacrament according to our faith (the Roman Catholic Faith) we believe the Priest becomes Christ temporarily.
No one ever dreamed that I would someday walk out of that hospital (except me). The staff tried diligently to illicit a reflex response from me. My wife had been told that each day would be taken one at a time but that if no response had been documented by the fourth day, a decision would have to be made. However, on the morning of the fourth day, the staff was quite thrilled and it was decided that I stood a chance for I had moved one of my 'pinkie' toes. The next two months were spent in the hospital and followed by another five months of rehabilitation therapies. Even though I had a long road to travel, it seems to have been a relatively easy and short journey.
There are many pictures of Jesus Christ and other religious figures on the walls of what I consider a sacred place of Divine Intervention. Don and I both fully recovered. Don and I run into each other at least once a week as we continue to play ice hockey and reflect on our Good News. Once or twice a month we skate with his son, Ryan and teach him the game of hockey; Don shines during this time and does not take his presence here for granted. We also visit Florida Hospital around the New Year Holiday, each and every year, to give thanks to where Divine Intervention continues to occur. Although I resigned as Director of our Educator Preparation Institute, I continue to profess and research in the subject areas of psychology and education. I have co-authored an educational psychology textbook and authored a learning theory (Revelation Theory of Learning). However, I believe more importantly I have balanced my life with other not so trivial pursuits. I am an active member of our parish's Ministry to The Sick, Knights of Columbus (Third Degree), I have become a Secular Carmelite and I play old-timers hockey with a community of immature men (like myself) who, for the most part, enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I have learned much throughout my life; however, my learning curve was significantly more - steep during and immediately after my coma. Here are some of the insights/revelations that were shared with me.
My life did 'flash' before me; however, this 'review' did not stop at my birth. My recollection was going back in time and 'space' well before my birth. A time and place best described as Eden-like. I have a 'recollection' of landing at the bottom of a significant hill in a 'sea' of 'people' I then climbed to the crest of the hill passed between two rocks and 'interacted' with two human-like 'persons'. They communicated to me in unison (there are some more details, my wife has written them down and we may share these later). As I awoke from my coma in my hospital bed, I looked at my wife and said 'Is it okay if I go back?' I am uncertain that I was talking to her. Although she did reply emotionally, 'YES.'
When you are close to God, it is significantly peaceful and beautiful. 'Life' does not end when we die; we carry on in spirit. Your life does flash before you as you pass; however, for me I kept going back before my birth to a time and place much like Eden has been described in the Bible. God is with you; even when you think he is not (I could reflect on this so profoundly when I awakened, He was with me throughout my life). Some of our greatest twentieth century role models for mankind are, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and interestingly enough, a non-Christian, Mahatma Gandhi. There are others. More precisely it is not the type of religion you practice, it is how well you emulate our Greatest role-model.
Date NDE Occurred: '01/07, 08. 09/2003'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness Massive bleed to the right ventricle... Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
I was in a coma from massive bleed to the right ventricle.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal When I awoke out of my coma.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I awoke out of my coma.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
As I mentioned I 'felt' like I was in an Eden-like place. It was if I had traveled back in time (B.C.) and place (Eden-like).
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes See main narrative for details.
The experience included: Light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Although it was much more like a general brightness (like a significant Florida sunrise).
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm My life did "flash" before me; however this "review" did not stop at my birth. My recollection was going back in time and "space" well before my birth. A time and place best described as Eden-like. I have a "recollection" of landing at the bottom of a significant hill in a "sea" of "people" I then climbed to the crest of the hill passed between two rocks and "interacted" with two human-like "persons" They communicated to me in unison... (there are some more details, my wife has written them down and we may share these later...
What emotions did you feel during the experience? All positive, happiness, anticipation, wonder.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control See main narrative for details.
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Probably not; however, there is a degree of uncertainty due to the fact of being re-directed and being infused with such profound knowledge and the realization that there is no need to fear death and most importantly that there is also no need for any fear or anxiety as we exist here.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Uncertain When I reached the crest of the hill and passed between the two rocks; I was 'intercepted by the two beings who communicated in unison to me. My next recollection was waking up and verbalizing 'Is it okay if I go back.'
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate Catholic (Vatican II)
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I have been drawn suddenly towards Carmelite-spirituality (I am now a Carmelite laity). I now attend the Latin-Rite (pre-Vatican II) movement of our faith. I bring and distribute communion to Catholics in hospitals on a regular basis. I receive communion weekly from a Carmelite Priest.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist Catholic (Latin-rite)
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I have been drawn suddenly towards Carmelite-spirituality (I am now a Carmelite laity). I now attend the Latin-Rite (pre-Vatican II) movement of our faith. I bring and distribute communion to Catholics in hospitals on a regular basis. I receive communion weekly from a Carmelite Priest.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes My career at my college has peaked; I was geared towards administration. I have been re-tooled to a more Thoreau-like existence. One that is more diverse and more centered on my and my family's interests. I have a renewed love for teaching and learning at the college level. I love to teach. My wife and I are closer - specifically because I realize what a gift she was to me from Him. I am closer to two of my three daughters (my oldest is in college and although I am probably closer to her I am not certain).
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I was infused with significant 'wisdom' that has aided me and others - I have authored a learning theory.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Absolutely! Before my coma, I was a 'good' and productive person (I was Program Manager for our Education Program at our college and I would probably have been considered a 'Pew' Catholic). However, I have been infused with profound wisdom/understanding - I do not fear death, I realize he will assist us in times of need; and we may not have complete 'free will' at least if we are 'in-tune' with Him. Chaos is the absence of God. I no longer pursue my 'college ladder.' I am more content professing, researching, and pursuing interests like Carmelite laity, hockey and family.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Thanks to my wife, she recorded significant amounts of my experience and I do share this with friends, family, and others. Their reactions were generally positive and some were influenced positively.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I was chalk-full of so much knowledge and peacefulness. As I began to unload it on myself and others significant positive changes occurred. My peacefulness is still with me. I sleep 'like a baby'. We recently had some significant rains and a two foot square part of our roof caved in by our fireplace in the middle of the night. It awakened everyone except me. Before my coma, I was a light-sleeper. I was suddenly aware that throughout my life, He was beside me and now I am aware of His presence. I no longer worry; as I re-habilitated in the hospital I was cheerful and received the nick-name of 100% I constantly mentioned to the doctors and nurses that I was 100% when I could not even move.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I feel wonderful; it is much like the analogy of the child who learns from his father or mother (at an early age) how to react to his immediate environment. I do feel like I have been re-born; although I use the word re-born with much caution because I do not think of it as in the 'Bible-belt' sense. My loved ones view me as a significantly different person (although they still love me; they understand I am different). Perhaps if we think of it as in the 'bare-naked' sense of Stimulus-Response you will begin to understand.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Prior to my coma I was gifted with fore-knowledge of a chopper crash. This I believe may in some way be insightful; however, I have no earthly idea how.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Include a question similar to:
Were there any experiences before the NDE that may in some way be linked?