The world is filled with near death experiences. My father once shared his own tale with me by claiming that he floated over his body, saw the doctors, but couldn't communicate. That event has since plunged him into an obsession with creating a device that would allow body-less spirits to communicate with the living.
|There's my son, Jonah, who turned 9 yesterday.
For myself, I don't feel compelled to move in that direction, though that event has definitely helped guide many of my decisions since I fell down, quit breathing, and turned blue in front of my wife, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and my youngest son (while watching Twin Peaks, no less).
My Near Death Experience
So, here's how everything went down. We were all watching Twin Peaks when my phone rang. I jumped up to answer and heard my mom's voice on the other end. We were all planning to head over to my ex-wife's house to celebrate my son's sixth birthday. Anyway, we said a couple things to each other, and that's when I started to feel tunnel vision and lost consciousness.
From my perspective, everything went black. There were no lights. There was no floating over my body. Just a big nothing. (Note: I want it to be known I consider myself a Christian, so I'm not arguing for or against the existence of anything. I'm just sharing what I experienced.)
Eventually, I began to hear a frantic voice. Then, I could see my wife, Tammy, looking into my eyes. I could tell she was very worried, and I tried to to get up--but I couldn't. In fact, I could barely move. It was like my entire body was paralyzed--or like it had fallen asleep.
Stop Breathing, Turning Blue
From Tammy's perspective, I got up to answer the phone. Then, I sat down on the couch behind me and in one motion laid down. Then, I started snoring loudly, which is what cued her in that something was wrong. Eventually my breathing stopped altogether and--right before her eyes--my skin was turning crayon blue.
My soon-to-be sister-in-law called 911, while Tammy worked on me to get me back breathing. While she didn't have a stopwatch out to "time me," both are pretty sure that I'd quit breathing for at least a few minutes. Brain cells begin to die within five minutes of no oxygen to the brain, so my life and ability to function normally were hanging in the balance while I experienced nothing.
Tammy kept blowing into my mouth until finally I started breathing again. Even then, my eyes were open, but I wasn't home. So she kept "talking" to me until I found my way back to her.
No Answers, But Still Thankful
Over the course of the next month, I was put through a gauntlet of tests in Ohio and Georgia by a variety of specialists, including cardiologists and neurologists. I wore a heart monitor day and night--calling in suspicious codes (even in the middle of the night) whenever it beeped. I intentionally made myself hyperventilate for a neurological test (talk about weird). And I went through more than a dozen other tests.
|Three years ago, I spent the weekend in a hospital bed.
Cardiologists were convinced it was neurological. Neurologists were convinced it was cardiological. Eventually, I ended up with no answers and a prescription for extra strength Vitamin D.
Without any answers, I felt like a ticking time bomb. The least little jump in my heart rate could send me into a panic. But eventually, that passed. I've learned to move on with my life, and I'm actually very thankful.
That moment, as horrible as it was, helped me realize what I was doing to myself. I was pulling all-nighters, letting myself get overly stressed out about work, and staying locked inside every day. I was truly lucky that I didn't have a similar event when I was home alone (with my 6-month-old son). If that had been the case, this blog post probably wouldn't exist.
So when I start pulling my hair out about work or bills or "a million things to get done" in a short amount of time, I now have my near death experience to draw upon for strength and patience and perspective. Nothing's so important that it's worth killing myself over. I can take a deep breath, relax my shoulders, and remember I'm alive.
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