All this happened in Malta in December, 2004. I was forty six years old. I am a Roman Catholic priest. During a game of soccer with a group of my fellow religious brothers and our friends, I injured my knee. It did not hurt much, though I had to stop playing the game. I bandaged my knee and kept the bandage on for three days. When my knee felt better, I took the bandage off and I developed a pulmonary embolism, although at the time I did not know that's what was wrong. From the fever patterns I developed, I became convinced it was an attack of malaria, which I had contracted several times during past years while working in Nigeria. This misled my doctor at first, but after a week, he began to re-consider this diagnosis. I became so weak and breathless that he decided to have me admitted to the hospital immediately. I was so reluctant to agree that he had to insist. In the hospital, the malaria test proved to be negative, and I was soon diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, which was blocking both lungs. I was transferred to intensive care that same evening. All I can remember of the following morning is that as I was trying to raise myself up to eat some breakfast, I passed out.I remember that subsequent to my passing out, I felt great peace and happiness. I saw no lights and heard no voices, but I do remember very vividly that as the staff nurses were bringing me back, I felt very irritated, exactly as if I had been enjoying a beautiful movie and the light had suddenly gone out during the best part of it!When I returned to consciousness, my heartbeat was around two hundred beats per minute, and the nurses kept shouting at me to breathe. Later, as the nurses changed me, I realized that I was all wet, too. It was only then I realized that I had been dead! Later, I was told about how the alarm had started going off at the very time the nurses were changing their roster and the inevitable panic that ensued about which nurses were going to attend to me and resuscitate me.As a priest, I obviously didn't change my beliefs, but now I find them strengthened. I feel now much more certain of life beyond this one! And I no longer feel as afraid to die.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.