I went for an ablation for atrial fibrillation. The night prior to the procedure my doctor came in to talk. He asked me if I was up for the procedure and I told him I did not feel good about this, and he reassured me that I would do fine given I was young and in good health. The procedure began early the next morning. I was put under general anesthesia for what would be the next nine hours. Well into the procedure the doctor found a cluster of "hot spots" the bad areas that cause interruptions in the electrical pathways of the heart and the atrial fibrillation. He ablated the first area then went for the second one and it caused my heart to stop beating. Within some time it restarted on its own. He went on to the third area and my heart stopped again but this time it did not restart.
I was in asystole or flatlined. It was during this time all of a sudden I could hear people rushing around, instruments hitting a metal tray, someone saying "Oh my God it's a very high degree heart block." I knew what this meant, but I was not afraid; I just kind of thought "whatever" because I was not feeling any pain. I was somewhere. I dont know where but I was warm, very comfortable and couldn't see anything but could sense a white room with no door or windows--nothing but white. I felt complete and utter love, unlike any love I had ever experienced. I felt as if I was not alone but no one stepped forward. I did not care if I survived.
I awoke hours later and the doctor explained what had happened. In order to make the lower half of my heart beat adequately to sustain life, I had an external pacemaker put in place. Over the next six days I was in critical condition. The doctor had hoped things would change and that it was due to swelling in the ablated areas, but nothing changed. I had to have a permanent pacemaker placed.
The doctor asked if I had any questions prior to the pacemaker placement and I suddenly blurted out, "Just dont let me die." It was as if I had no control over it at all, then I quickly made other excuses for my statement. The second procedure was done under conscious sedation. All went well and I later went home.
This experience had all come to me after I got home. I had nightmares and panic attacks which I did not have prior to this, and memories came back to me as to what I had experienced. The more clear the memories became the nightmares tapered off, but I still had trouble with feelings of panic at random times for a few months after coming home. Unfortunately with clearer memories came feelings of guilt for not wanting to come back because of my family and what it would have done to them. I felt very selfish and my only child who is everything to me would have been without his mother, my husband without his wife, and my parents would have to live through the loss of another child. I would have been one and a half months from the exact age my brother was when he passed away.
During the hospitalization I was very ill, but I dont know why I was not thinking of all these things right after the incident. There is something strange...Every nurse that came in hourly would ask if I had ever slept because I was awake every time they came in. I was also awake as they monitored the camera. How can anyone go for six days with little to no sleep? I have no idea how this could be, especially given my weakened condition. Why did I start having nightmares when the memories of the experience were so pleasant? It may have been connected to the guilt, coupled with thoughts about what if I didn't survive.
As a nurse who has patients that will go through the process of dying, I think it is much harder for those left behind than it is for the person going through it. Why? I know you don't experience pain because pain is what the physical body may display but the soul of the person has disconnected with the physical body and no longer suffers. Do I think there is something after death? Yes.