I wasn't sure whether or not to post on this message board. I was invited to this board by a friend, and had to give it some serious consideration. I have since decided that it might be helpful to get these feelings out.
I had a unique experience on Wednesday, February 6, 2002. That was only 5 days ago. My 34th birthday was Friday, February 8, 2002. As I slept in my bed on Wednesday evening near midnight, I had a strange dream of my stepfather holding me in his arms as I was being rushed to the hospital in the back seat of a taxicab. My heart was beating so fast (in my dream) that I thought it would explode. The dream was so intense, that I woke up...
When I woke up, my heart was actually beating fast. I lay there waiting for it to slow down, thinking it was an anxiety attack, but it seemed to beat faster. I could not call out for my children. I could barely breathe. My breaths were short bursts, like when a woman is in labor. I dialed 911 and told them I thought I was having a heart attack. They said to stay calm, they were sending someone right over. I dialed my daughter's phone across the hall and told her to come in my room right away. She did.
She was terrified, and I didn't have any words of wisdom for her. Here I was - dying - and I could not think of anything clever to say to my oldest child. Somehow that still bothers me more than the incident itself. I stopped trying to think at all. Suddenly, my ex-husband was here (my daughter had called her dad) and the paramedics were upstairs in my bedroom. They were poking and prodding and telling me to remain calm.
My heart was racing at 200 beats per minute. Really. My daughter said that she was watching the heart monitor the whole time they were working on me, and the lowest it got was 198. So, they attached all of these electrodes to me - everywhere. Then they found my one good vein and gave me an IV, then proceeded to carry me (a heavy 200 pound woman) downstairs on a gurney. That, in itself, was enough to bring on a heart attack. They started going down the stairs, then one said "I should go first", and turned around, then the other one said "No, I think I should go first", so it took a while simply deciding who would bear my weight down my steep stairs! I kept my eyes closed all the way down!
Then I remember feeling cold and asking for a blanket. They said, "We are only going to be outside for a second, we're taking you straight into the ambulance, hang in there". My daughter heard this, and ran upstairs to get her comforter off of her bed and brought it to them. Next thing I knew I was in the ambulance, still breathing in short spurts with my heart racing at 200 or thereabouts.
I just knew I was dying, and I was thinking of all the things that I thought I should be thinking about. What do people think about before they die??? I thought about my children, who would care for them (ages 13, 9, and 7). My son would be 8 tomorrow (born one day before my birthday) and I would be gone. Who would take care of my babies??? And my home? Nobody could afford to pay my house note. Is my insurance current? Will it cover the cost of my home and my burial? Wait! I think I have homeowner's insurance. And credit card insurance. And bank account insurance. But, is it accidental only? Where did I put all of this information? Will anyone be able to find the papers? Where is my ex-husband? Is he following the ambulance? Oh, my goodness...my grandmother. She's 90 years old, and I'm her heart. This will kill her. She will die of a broken heart. And, my baby brother. He's more like my son, and he's so far away in Maryland, he will be devastated. He has no money to travel to Texas.
Somebody please call him, and my mom. I'm so scared. And, my thoughts were racing like this for what seemed like forever in the back of that ambulance.
Then one of the paramedics said, "We will have to give you Adenison. You will feel really strange, but it will be okay. You're doing good. Just try to relax." When they injected the adenison in my arm, I felt myself float away...they actually stopped my heart. But, it didn't help. My heartbeat was still racing. They said, "We will have to double the injection. Okay, we're going to give you adenison again. You will feel strange again. You did good the first time. It'll be okay. We need to slow down your heart." And, I felt myself float a little higher. It was like I turned into air for a few seconds.
Then I literally FELT my heart start beating again. I don't remember seeing a light, but I do remember feeling totally weightless, and out of body. It was a very unusual experience, to say the least. At the hospital, I began to feel better as my heartbeat slowed down. I remember thinking how close I came to leaving this world. My entire perspective changed.
I decided to take a new outlook on life. Nothing and no one bothers me anymore. I was all alone in my pain in that body on Wednesday, and by the grace of God, I was given a second chance. I was told that if they didn't slow my heart down, I was headed straight to heart failure. Needless to say, it was a very frightening experience. I have determined to make some serious lifestyle changes, to include losing at least 50 pounds, and to reduce my level of stress.
That's my story. I hope that someone will be blessed by it, and learn the very important lesson that "people don't last forever". Live each day as if it were your last, because one day, it will be.
Six months later
I am doing well, very well. Thanks for your interest. I have truly developed a new outlook on life. I am in full-time ministry. I am a volunteer chaplain at one of our local hospitals where I do rounds visiting the sick and dying, and comforting the family members of loved ones who have lost someone. I also work as volunteer server and counselor at the Mission Soup Kitchen, which caters to the poor, homeless and working poor of our community. I do this only once a week, on Wednesdays, but I truly enjoy it. Additionally, I am a member of the JAIL Ministry team, a group of volunteer Christians who visit the local juvenile detention center once a week, on Thursdays, to mentor and offer bible study to the young inmates.
Also, I will be hosting a foreign student from Korea beginning August 10th. This is the day his flight arrives. He is 15 years old, and a Christian. I will host him, with no financial return (strictly voluntary) for 10 months. Prayer is requested as I undertake this mission, since I do not speak a single word of Korean!
At any rate, I feel that I have come to a complete understanding of my purpose in life, and that is to serve and love others. I do not judge ANYONE - 'for men have judged and judged wrongly'. And, besides, we are all measured by the measure which we meet. In other words, if I judge, I will be judged equally. So, I have let that go in all aspects of my life.
I am a much better listener than I used to be, especially to my children. I used to send them away when I was busy or resting. Now, I will stop whatever I am doing to listen to them, knowing that I am being trusted with their deepest thoughts and feelings. We have also begun a family bible study each evening and each child gets a chance to select a story to cover.
And finally, I have honed my spiritual 'intuitiveness' to a science. I am able to pick up vibes from other people and know when they are feeling or headed towards depression. I offer telephone counseling through Keen for those who are sad, depressed, lonely, or simply need a friend to listen to their problems. My first 3 minutes are always free, and my hours are very flexible. If I am not available at the time of the call, I refer my callers to members of my tele-counseling group. My website is http://www.keen.com/Mother+Joy. I have been able to help many people, and have received only positive feedback. I hold a five-star rating on Keen, and many of my callers have become regulars because they trust my intuitiveness, insightfulness, compassion and honesty.
Well, I hope I have answered your question appropriately in spite of the 'shameless plug' to my telephone counseling service. But, it is something I truly enjoy, and have been extremely blessed by.