Monday, December 23, 2002, was a day full of trauma, heartbreak, miracles and rejoicing. That is the day that I, at the age of fifty, had a heart attack - also known as an acute myocardial infarction (AMI). And that is the day that is truly the first day of the rest of my life. I came as close to death as I could and still return to life on this Earth.
It started out as an ordinary Monday morning. I got up at about 5:00 a.m. to go to the gym and complete my workout routine, as I had been doing for almost six months at that time. About halfway through my routine, after about forty-five minutes, I began to feel some discomfort in my back, between the shoulder blades. Since I had just completed the lat-pull I thought I had hurt a muscle back there. So, I got a drink of water and went to set up the next station. However, before I could resume exercising, I began to feel a little more uncomfortable, just an ache but it was getting a little stronger. I also started to feel achy in my left arm, near the elbow joint. Well, two hurt muscles in one day when the same routine had never bothered me before (can you say denial? I knew you could). It's really Monday. I was also just a little nauseated, and my next thought was that now I was going to have a bug over Christmas. This was my lucky day! I decided to do a little cool-down for ten minutes on the treadmill, and things didn't get any better, but they really didn't get any worse, either. OK, I might as well go on home. I just don't feel like lifting any more weights today.
Once at home, I told my wife, Pat, what I was feeling. Her first reaction was that we should go to the emergency room. Well, denial isn't just a river in Egypt, and I thought that no, it's probably nothing. But it didn't get any better, and started to feel a little worse. So I took a nitroglycerin pill. Then it did feel better, and I thought this is a bad thing, so I told Pat we should go ahead and go down to the hospital. By now, I had been feeling bad for twenty-five to thirty minutes. I am a slow learner.
Pat drove me to the hospital and dropped me off at the emergency room entrance, and went on to find a place to park the car. I walked in and found no one at all in there. I went over by registration and a girl came out from an office behind that counter. When I told her I was having chest pains, she made a quick phone call. I started filling out the form at Triage, but was unable to complete it because it was becoming difficult to move my fingers and write. Still, I didn't think of a heart attack. Pat came in and finished the form, and shortly a nurse came out and took us into the little interview room.
The nurse, Dave, had started asking questions and filling out yet another form. By this time, we had been in the emergency room for maybe three or four minutes. So it had been about forty to forty-five minutes since I first started feeling like something was wrong. The room started to spin, and I turned to Pat and said, 'I'm going to pass out now.' And so I did. Pat had to watch as I slipped out of the chair and onto the floor. Thankfully they eased me down so I didn't bump anything. She had to witness as I lay on the floor, breathing in a 'horrible' pattern, and staring sightlessly with a fixed, glazed look. Then she said I began to have seizure activity. She told the nurse to 'do something' and he said, 'I am.' He had already made a phone call, but she gave her famous whistle and screamed for help. And help was on the way.
The emergency room staff got me on a gurney there in that small room and began shock treatment immediately. Pat said they worked on me for about thirty minutes, eventually applying the defibrillator shock a total of seventeen times in an attempt to stop a 'lethal arrhythmia'. (And boy does that leave a burn on you!) They administered t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator - a clot-buster) when the whole thing started, and later said that I had made it in the 'golden hour' necessary for that treatment to be effective. I know they gave me a bunch of stuff. I wound up with about six IV's, three in each arm, and tubes and wires running every which way. My next sight in this world was that of the doctor leaning over me with a stethoscope, admonishing me to be quiet so he could hear. I could see several people around me, and was aware of what seemed to be feverish activity. Orders for various treatments didn't make any sense to me, but they sure knew what they were doing. I just knew that my chest hurt very, very badly. I felt the pain, and it took a little time to register. I thought, this hurts. What do you do when something hurts this much? Well, I guess you scream. Maybe I'd better scream. So I did. There was a little time of back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness at this time, but finally I felt that things had stabilized, and the adventure was over. I looked up at the doctor and said, 'I'm back.' He said that I wasn't out of the woods yet, but I was at about the fifth inning (a little mixing of metaphors here, but that's OK). Around this time, a nurse came out and told Pat, 'We have a miracle. He is still with us.' What happened in the intervening thirty minutes between passing out and coming to is another story in itself.
Sometime after passing out (I have no sense of time so don't know how long this lasted) I found myself walking in a tunnel toward, well, I wasn't sure where, actually. I just know that this was a place of perfect peace, and totally without pain or sorrow. The tunnel wasn't really very long, perhaps one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet. It was pink, kind of rose-colored quartz crystal, and had stalactite and stalagmite formations along the walls. At the end of the tunnel was a bright, pure light, purer than any I have ever seen anywhere. It was tall and narrow, and rounded at both ends.
I had every sense of self, I was still me, and had the sense of walking in a body as I went up the tunnel. I had no fear, and no thought of what was happening to me. It seemed the thing to do was to walk up the tunnel. Before I went very far, though, something said, 'Go back.' I wondered how I would go back, and the phrase was repeated, 'Go back.' The voice was gentle, and the sense of being loved was overwhelming, but I turned around and went away from the light. It was then that my thoughts became focused on Pat and Jackie (my fourteen year old daughter), and how much I wanted to go back to them. Until the voice commanded me to return, though, I had no thought except to go up the tunnel and find out what was at the end of it.
When I turned around, I was facing what appeared to be the end of a cave, with a pile of stones leading up to a narrow passageway. There was a faint light shining through the passage, and I somehow knew that this is where I had to go. I began to climb up the stones, but found it difficult to climb. I slipped several times but continued to climb, finally reaching the passageway. It was when I crawled into this passage that I found myself back in my body and somewhat aware of what was going on around me. It was yet a little while before I could open my eyes and speak. I think I cried out, although I don't really know.
I do know, however, that I have been blessed with a glimpse of what lies beyond. And I don't feel like the same person inside. I had a small taste of the awesome love and perfect peace of God. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. God is love, and God loves us more than we can possibly imagine. In Him there is no darkness, none at all. He is pure and holy and righteous, yet He loves us. He is awesome and mighty, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of all things, yet he desires to draw us unto him. He loves us so much He died for us, so we could be with him forever. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has in store for those that love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9) And all who call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.
Date NDE Occurred: December 23, 2002
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Heart attack Clinical death Cardiac arrest.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Positive
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I felt light and free, and even though I had the sensation of actually walking I do not recall feeling the pull of gravity. I guess the best way I can describe it is when I went back into my body it was like pulling on a suit of wet wool clothing. I went from being unconfined and open to thoughts, ideas and impressions in a way that I had never felt before back to being almost imprisoned in this body.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Fully alert and aware.
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning It was altered only in the sense that I had no conception of time, or felt that time was unimportant.
Did your hearing differ in any way from normal? Other than the voice which told me to go back, I don't recall hearing anything.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes I woke up after passing out to find myself in a rose-quartz colored cave which angled slightly upward from my location. I was already walking up the cave, or tunnel, when I awakened. There were stalactites and stalagmites in the cave, which I had to walk around. It was very brightly lit and although I didn't see myself, I could see my arm swinging back and forth as I walked on towards the light.
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Uncertain The voice that told me to go back emanated from in front of me in the tunnel where the light was. I didn't get close enough to see what the light was, and I don't know if it was a being or something else. All I know was that the voice was one that was accustomed to obedience to its commands. Gentle but firm.
The experience included: Light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Up near a bend in the tunnel out in front of me was a vertical patch of light which appeared to be rounded at both ends. I never saw what it was, but it was the most brilliant and pure white light that I have ever seen anywhere.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe I felt as though I knew that God is Love, and He loves us. I understood that sin (wrongdoing or wrong thoughts - anything less than perfect righteousness) could not be in the presence of God. I knew that God sent Jesus to the world to pay our debt of sin so we could be in His presence.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
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 I was simply told to 'go back' with no explanation as to why. However, I felt or understood that it was not time for me to leave my earthly life. I strongly feel that God has a purpose in sending me back, and that part of the purpose is to tell people about Him and his free gift of eternal life.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate Independent Christian Church
What is your religion now? Moderate still go to the same church.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes It was so otherworldly, so out of ordinary life and the sensations were of such depth and richness that words fail to describe it.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The best part was the peace and love. The worst was when I returned and felt the pain in my body.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I have spoken to several hundred people at one gathering and about a hundred at another gathering, in addition to having sent the written account to relatives and friends who have in turn sent it on to others. I have received many positive responses, but I don't really know how anyone has been influenced.
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? I am totally at peace with death, as I know it is only a new beginning. I know that what awaits those who die and know Jesus as Lord and Savior have a future that cannot even begin to be imagined. I still don't understand how all the religions and faiths and even non-faith will be reconciled in the end. I don't know a lot of things, but I know God loves people and is reaching out to them to come to Him and accept His love.