Fifteen years ago today I died. I know of no other way to say it than to simply say I died. I did not see any bright light or my Savior standing there with open arms. I saw nothing. I tasted physical death fifteen years ago yet I am still alive. How can this be?
On March 21, 1998 I had consented to have a double heart by-pass operation. I knew the risks with this major surgery and I tried not to think about them. Although the whole thing seemed surreal at the time, I felt the procedure was needed to preserve my ability to live. NO ONE involved believed I would live more than a few years or be back for another operation within five years for I was in pretty bad shape.
Between June of 1997 and March of 1998 I had 10 heart catheterizations with a total of six metal stents put into my right coronary artery. I can think of no nine month period of my life more miserable than that one. Unfortunately, my body kept rejecting the stents and they failed thus throwing me back into the same state of pain, shortness of breath and anxiety each time.
My 83 year old dad had suffered a major stroke in January of 1998 in Wichita Kansas. In spite of all my physical problems, I made numerous trips from Missouri to Kansans helping my mom deal with the myriad issues associated with my dad’s condition, nursing homes etc. The stress at the time was beyond description and more than once I thought I would be the one ending up in a coffin instead of my dad.
When I slumped on my mom’s kitchen floor having suffered yet another heart attack on March 19th, I knew it was time for drastic action. When the cardiologist informed me that all of my stents had collapsed I was giving the choice of more attempts to open them or by-pass surgery. I chose the surgery even though I was in Kansas. I was frustrated and believing I would get all better with the surgery.
All I know about a heart by-pass is that they rip open your chest, pull your heart out and put it in ice while attaching the various arteries and veins to a heart/lung machine. To this day, when I think back to the fact that for a few hours my heart was outside my body in a tub of ice and my circulatory system was working by machines it freaks me out.
When the by-pass was done, my heart was put back into my chest, massaged and warmed up with the expectation it would start beating again. My brother had this operation a few years ago and his heart did NOT start beating. In due time the doctors shocked his heart and massaged it back to life. I do not know what happened with me other than I survived meaning my heart did indeed “come back to life”.
It is indeed a bit strange to remember the day you died and came back to life, but that is how I look at what took place 15 years ago. As I lay there on the operating table under the heaviest anesthesia of my life, my physical heart was not even in my body. I guess my heart had an “out of body experience”.
The months after that surgery were filled with repeated stays in the hospital due to complications and a general downturn in my overall health. Five months later, as I attended my dad’s funeral in August of 1998, I honestly believed I would be joining him shortly due to how horrible I felt and how unable the doctors were at diagnosing and treating me. But that is a story for another day.
I thank God that by His grace and mercy my heart resumed beating and 18 hours after I went under anesthesia I was up walking and most definitely alive. Much to my enemy’s disgust, God brought me through my ordeal and in His due time allowed me to help others again, as I pray I am able to do for you through these blogs.
Thank you for allowing me to share the details of this special day with you. I truly thank God for life and for YOU, the people who give my life such meaning and joy.