It all sounds like a crazy story but here it is, as short and as simple as I can write it.
December 28, 2017 was an ordinary Thursday... My spirits were high and my husband and I were having our morning coffee and sitting in the living room talking about how wonderful the Christmas had been. The day before this, we had gone to the coast to spend the day because all of the kids and grandkids had gone home from the celebration. We had just moved to Shady Cove, Oregon and bought a house on the river with 2 acres. This was our first Christmas in the house. I had it decorated to the hilt and because we were comfortable financially, it was full of gifts for everyone. It had been so nice; everyone had such a lovely time. Laughter and love.
As we were talking, I started having a weird sensation in my left arm just below the bicep. I didn’t think much of it. I was in reasonably good health other than a lifelong problem with kidney infections, which were managed with medication. I don’t drink, smoke, eat red meat and because I’ve been a dance teacher for a very long time, I exercise on a regular basis. The sensation was that of an ache, not of pain, but it started to increase. I suddenly "heard a voice" say, "Oh, Sam, you are in sooo much trouble."
I turned my head toward my husband Scott and told him, "Get me two aspirin, make me chew them, and call 911." I then recall getting up and kneeling in the middle of the living room and starting to pray, and I started repeating, "Amber, Heather, Chloe, Aaron" (my two daughters’ and my grandchildren’s names). Scott later told me I was worried about what I was wearing (lol) and before I kneeled in the living room, I went into the bedroom and changed out of my night clothes and into an outfit much worse matched than what I had on. I don’t remember doing that. Scott called 911 and asked his daughter Maddie to get dressed and meet the ambulance at the end of our drive (our drive was not easily seen from the road), but by the time she got dressed the paramedics had already arrived. They had just returned from a call and the firehouse was 3 minutes from our property. Rick, the head paramedic, recognized me as soon as he walked in. I had been treating him at the clinic for days before for an impacted ear and he was having problems with dizziness as a result. I remember him asking me if I was having chest pain and I said no, it was my arm.
At that moment I coded for the first time. The following is in fragments so I will recall to the best of my ability. A couple of months later, I met with my “heroes" and they filled in many things for me which I will add in later. The numbered Codes are from what I was told later as the timeline of events by Rick (Head paramedic). Code 1 (I coded 9 times in total): The paramedics started CPR, inserted IVs, etc. They defibrillated me and I returned to consciousness: The paramedics were asking me questions, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I could see a man standing behind them all. He was just standing there, watching. I remember thinking, "Why isn’t he doing something?" As they were working on me, I can only recall repeating "Amber, Heather, Chloe, Aaron" over and over. Codes 2, 3, and 4: More CPR, defibrillations. They keep trying to stabilize me and get me on the gurney to transport me to the Mercy Flight Helicopter, but even though with every defibrillation, I would wake up and talk to them (I don’t remember this), every time they would try and move me, I would code again. After the 4th defibrillation I do remember seeing "the man" still standing there and this time there were shiny objects everywhere. (I was thinking they were bright lights set up for some reason or sparks from the defibrillator - odd thoughts.) There was also someone singing in the distance, which I thought was strange. "Amber, Heather, Chloe, Aaron." "Hang on, Sam." Code 5: I woke up just as they were defibrillating, so I felt the jolt go through me. I said, "OUCH! That did NOT feel good." Code 6: I'm floating, there is a warm breeze on my face, I am at total peace. "This is so nice," I was thinking. I feel no pain. It is quiet. I think my eyes are open, I can see two paramedics working on me but I can’t hear anything, nor can I feel them touching me. Code 7: I’m in the helicopter in route. The paramedic, Michael, asks me where I would like to go. I say, "Home." I code. Codes 8 and 9 are at the Cath lab.
Apparently, I have had a "Widow Maker," 100% occlusion. Because of the severity of CPR, I have aspirated and the fluids have filled my lungs 100%. I have now, essentially, drowned. In total I was dead for 15 minutes. No blood or oxygen to my heart or my brain. A titanium stent is placed LAD to restore blood to my heart by Dr Hong, Cardiologist. Dr. Thomas is called in to further my care. She is only called for the most dire of cases. It is decided to place me in a medically induced coma and start cryo-therapy to preserve brain function. My family has now been informed that, “If I survive, I most likely will have brain damage and never be ME again.”
My Journey: I am no longer in the physical world but am very much aware. I was in many different places at different times. Here is my account of my journey as best I can describe it, although it isn’t possible to give accurate detail of it. These places are beyond description or my being able to tell you how I felt there.
- I am dancing in a wall of water. There is another person there but I cannot actually see her. I feel she is female though. I am dancing and the water is warm and purifying. I feel the warmth wash over me. I want to stay there, dancing the most beautiful dance of love and weightlessness. She tells me I can stay or I can go on. I can feel that the choice is fleeting because I know that I am being drawn into it. I tell her that I have to go...."Amber, Heather, Chloe, Aaron."
- I am in a room made of earth. I know I need to get out. The walls are crumbling and I start digging my way to the light. I get out and see Scott in a mud puddle. He is rolling around in it saying, "It’s so warm here, you should stay." I tell him, "No, it’s not where I’m meant to be." He replies, "But, it’s so warm here and fun." My reply again is, "No.". It looks like Scott, but for some reason, I know it's not him.
- I am walking on a path. It has mounds of earth around me, like little hills, covered with small little flowers. Everywhere I walk are these "things" they are not human but I wouldn’t call them creatures, they are definite Beings of some sort. They are laying and sitting and standing everywhere I look and I try not to step on them. I feel nervous about them. They "flutter" and have a bit of a shine. They are singing the song I heard before; it is so loud, but I can't hear the words. I'm almost positive the words are in a different language. They have a solid texture but I can’t describe what that texture is. I do know that I have an urgency to leave this place...
- I am in amongst several buildings. They are brightly colored, so bright that I can barely look at them. All different colors and colors I have never seen before or can describe. The buildings are stacked on top of each other and look as if they may fall over. All different shapes and sizes, different angles. I am "aware' that each of these places hold all of my memories, experiences, anyone I’ve ever encountered, deeds I've done and everything that I have said or thought. They also contain what lies ahead if I choose to not stay. I know that I can go into any of these buildings and see what’s inside. I decide to go into the "What lies ahead." It’s not a room as we would envision a room. It doesn’t have walls, a ceiling, a floor or a door but I know I'm inside.I am made aware that since I have chosen to go back, there will be things I will have to do. That the only reason I am being given a choice is because "I've always paid attention to the little things that really matter." The gifts that the world has been given but most tend not pay attention to. "I've always stopped to smell the roses," as you might say. That though I am not perfect by any means, I have had a loving and forgiving soul and I see the world as a beautiful place even when there is darkness.... My job will be to share the knowledge I have been given today. To spread words of love and forgiveness and to touch a life whenever I am called to do so, in any way I am called to do it. That I will know what to do or what to say when those times arise. To be a person of healing. To be a person of "Light." I say I will.
- The final place before my awakening: I am in a place of pure light; I am engulfed by it. I am now mechanical. There are other people there as well, they are also mechanical, they are also working on healing. I am morphing into whatever I need to be, to fix whatever’s medically wrong with me. I am finally "told" I am able to go back. "Amber, Heather, Chloe, Aaron"....
I open my eyes; there is no one there. I am in a hospital room. I frantically pull at what is in my mouth and pull out my respirator tube. Alarms are going off; they are so loud. A nurse rushes in to see me awake. I ask, "What day is it?" She replies, "It’s almost New Year’s." I ask if Scott was here and she said they had sent everyone home because I was supposed to be in a medically-induced coma for three weeks at least. That they have never seen anyone come "out" of one without being brought out of it. That "this" is not supposed to happen. I asked to call him and she handed me her phone. It is 3 minutes until midnight, New Year's. Scott answered. I said, "Happy New Year," although it was extremely hard for me to talk. It was more like a squeaky whisper. He said, "Who is this?" I said, "It's Sam." Scott started laughing and said, "Of course it is! I will be right there," and we hung up.
Since my journey there are many physical changes within me. I now see a light around everyone. Sounds are extremely intense and I can hear layers upon layers of noises. Colors are more vivid. My hands constantly vibrate (inside them). Children come up to me or just stare at me to the point of being very noticeable and notably, animals do the same.
I am very thankful I was allowed to come back but at the same time I feel so very overwhelmed by this world now. I'm happy but I cry constantly - for reasons I have no clue about. I was a very social person before and would now rather "hide away." My husband and I didn’t have any real issues before this. He said I "became my experience" (Whatever that is supposed to mean). He started having an affair and we are now divorced. I have moved away from Shady Cove to be closer to Heather and my grandkids. I live alone. I'm not currently working because I had a complication with my kidneys and had to have an open surgery on it several weeks ago. I am healed from that now though. I'm trying to move forward with "Life" but quite frankly I’m not sure how to do it.... it will come to me in time, I suppose.
I later met with the paramedics that saved my life and was told a few strange things: Chris, the paramedic that was in control of the defibrillator, told me that they all had several talks about the fact that there were times that I was without a heartbeat and not breathing but I would say things to them in whispers and that I would reach up and hold their hands as if guiding what to do. He said that none of them had ever experienced anything like that before and can't explain it. They had all agreed not to tell me but Chris thought it was so profound that he wanted to share it with me. Scott had said that the paramedics had, on several occasions, looked at each other but he thought it was because they didn’t think I was going to make it, but Chris recalled that was why they were looking at each other.
I have seen "The man" or "The watcher" as I call him several times since my NDE. It has become less often and I'm still not sure who he is or what his purpose is. Perhaps my guardian, I'm not sure.