Craig W's Experience

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Experience description:   

I awoke about 2 am 11/28/01 with extreme pain and pressure across the tops of my shoulders.  Thinking that I had just been sleeping in a weird position I took an Excedrin type pain pill to see if that would take care of it.  I laid back down and slept lightly for maybe another 30-45 minutes.  Then I had to sit up and figure out what to do as the pain had now increased and included my chest and went down my arm.  I was having increasing difficulty breathing.  I didn't want to have to wake up my wife and interrupt her sleep.  So I thought if I could just take some deep breaths it would help me out, but it didn't.  At this point I was feeling totally helpless, as no matter what I did there was nothing I could do to help myself.  I finally woke my wife up and told her she needed to take me to the emergency room.  On the way to the emergency room all I could do was cry as I was scared or should I say frightened because I just had to surrender my life to God.

Once we got to the emergency room the admitting nurse got me admitted, although I was certainly feeling a sense of urgency to get in to the doctor quickly she didn't seem to have that same sense of urgency.  It was as if I knew on some level I needed to get in there as fast as possible.  They got me admitted, drew some blood, had just got an IV started when I passed out and my heart stopped. 

The next thing I remember happening is becoming aware of my surroundings.  I really had no idea where I had been or where I was when I came back.  I have passed out before, but apparently never had my heart stop because of it.  And on every occasion before when I had passed out when they brought me to I had always been dreaming and I wished that I could have stayed with the dream.  This time however was different.  I had absolutely no recall of any dream or any memory of anything happening while I was gone.  I just realized I had been gone when I came back and had a profound sense of how important relationships and love were.

It took me a little time to finally realize where I was and what was or had happened.  The attending nurse told me what had happened physically once they got me stabilized.  I was pretty much in shock as I never thought this would be an experience I would have.  The biggest thing was that I wasn't afraid of dying, but more terrified of what the medical personnel were doing or wanted to do.  Dying was nothing to be afraid of.

My big remaining question is what is it that I am supposed to learn from this experience.  Further testing since that episode has shown no medical reason for me to have had a heart attack.  Angiogram showed clear as well as all of the other cardiac tests.

Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience:  Uncertain

Was the experience difficult to express in words?  Yes

      What was it about the experience that makes it hard to communicate?  Well I certainly didn't experience anything like I have heard or seen from others.  The only thing I knew is that I had been gone when I became aware that I was back.  I was very emotional about things to do with relationships and people.  For the first time in my life, other than my immediate family spouse, children, parents, and siblings I became aware that others really did care about me as a person.  It was a bit overwhelming.

At the time of the experience, was there an associated life threatening event?  Yes

      Describe:  Heart Attack

What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience?  While I was gone.  None

Was the experience dream like in any way?  No

Did you experience a separation of consciousness from your body?  No

What emotions did you feel during the experience?  While my heart was stopped. None

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?  No response

      Describe:  Love is paramount and death is only a change in a state of consciousness.  The physical body is just a house for our consciousness on earth.

Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?  Yes

      Describe:  A realization that most people really do care about others.  Especially I realized that included me being cared about by others than my own close family members.

Has the experience affected your relationships?  Daily life?  Religious practices etc.?  Career choices?  I seem to take more time to develop and nurture relationships than I have in the past.  Relationships are a higher priority for me.

Have you shared this experience with others?  Yes

      Describe:  More or less supportive.  I don't know that they could really understand it as it isn't something that I could adequately describe with our limited language capabilities.  I really don't know if or how they were influenced.

What emotions did you experience following your experience?  Crying.  I am a little unclear what the emotions were, experiencing the realization of the amount of love others had for me made me cry.

What was the best and worst part of your experience?  Best - Feeling the love and concern others have for me.

Worst - All of the medical procedures.

Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?  Yes

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?  No

Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?  No

      Explain:  I really don't think there are adequate words available to describe the experience.  It's kind of like trying to tell a person who has never tasted chocolate what it tastes like.  It just can't be done, short of the person actually tasting the chocolate.